Travelers in Dover will face queues up to seven times longer this summer due to the implementation of a new fingerprint check system in May.
The new Entry Exit System (EES) will photograph and fingerprint people from third countries crossing the border into and out of the European Union.
As part of the Brexit agreement, the UK requested inclusion in the new system, which is set to go into effect in May 2023, after contributing to its development while a member of the EU.
Non-European citizens, including Britons, will be required to have their fingerprints and a facial biometric analysed every time they enter and leave the EU.
European Commission’s department for Migration and Home Affairs said: “EES will replace the current system of manual stamping of passports, which is time-consuming, does not provide reliable data on border crossings and does not allow a systematic detection of overstayers.”
According to models developed by the Slovenian government, the additional checks will increase border wait times by up to four minutes.
However, Doug Bannister, CEO of the Port of Dover, warned that checkpoint wait times could increase by up to seven times.
He estimated that the additional requirements would add up to 10 minutes for a family of five in a vehicle on their first trip after EES is implemented, compared to 45 to 90 seconds for border checks now.
Speaking to the Transport Select Committee, he said: “What we have heard is that it could be two minutes per person to register, plus two minutes for the car, so that’s 10 minutes for a car full of four people.”
British travellers will also have to pay an online “eurovisa” fee of £6 and must pre-register.
The Port of Dover boss said the new EU system of biometric checks for travellers could cause “significant and continued disruption for a very long time”.
Steven Woolfe, Director of the Centre for Migration & Economic Prosperity, blamed French border authorities for the delays.
He said: “We have to be honest that Brexit will be a factor in the initial stages, because obviously once we decided to leave the European Union there had to be a change in the way we undertook our passport control.
He added: “There were 11 to 12 thousand people going across each day, and they didn’t have enough staff. So now, we cannot blame it on Brexit we can only blame it on the administration, controls of the French border control system.”