February 20, 2023

European Travel for UAE Residents No Longer Requires Schengen Visa Stamps

Passport stamps are not just an indication of crossing a border but also a record of cherished memories for travelers. However, for non-EU visitors entering the Schengen Area, the joy of collecting passport stamps may soon be a thing of the past. The new Entry/Exit System (EES), set to launch in November 2023, aims to replace the traditional system of manual passport stamping with the digital registration of travelers. In this blog post, we will discuss what the EES is, how it works, and what it means for UAE residents traveling to Europe.


What is the EU Entry/Exit System (EES)?

The EU Entry/Exit System (EES) is an automated IT system designed to register the details of non-EU visitors who are visa-exempt or hold short-stay visas. The EES will digitally record the name, type of travel document, biometric data (fingerprints and facial images), and the date and place of entry and exit every time a person crosses an external EU border. The EES will also record any refusals of entry.

According to the European Commission's department for Migration and Home Affairs, the EES is intended to replace the current manual passport stamping system, which is time-consuming, unreliable, and does not provide accurate data on border crossings. The EES will enhance security in the EU by improving border control checks and self-service systems. However, some countries and the airline industry have expressed concerns that a lack of preparation may cause teething problems when the system is launched.


When will the EES launch?

The EES was initially planned to launch in 2022 but was delayed until May 2023 and November 2023. The system's delay is due to the extensive technical requirements needed for the successful implementation of the system.


Who will be affected by the EES?

All non-EU visitors to the Schengen Area will be affected by the EES. Under the new system, travelers with visa-free access to the Schengen Area will be required to obtain travel authorization online through the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) before arrival. The ETIAS will launch in phases once the EES is operational.


What does the EES mean for UAE residents traveling to Europe?

For UAE residents traveling to Europe, the EES means that physical passport stamps will no longer be issued. Instead, the EES will digitally record the details of their entry and exit every time they cross an external EU border. This new system is expected to be more efficient and faster for travelers than the traditional manual passport stamping system.

However, it is important to note that until the EES is launched, UAE residents traveling to Europe will still need to obtain physical passport stamps as proof of their legal entry and exit from the Schengen Area.


What about Brits post-Brexit?

For Brits traveling to the Schengen Area post-Brexit, obtaining passport stamps is still a requirement. The stamps act as proof that they have not overstayed their visa-free limit of 90 days within a 180-day period. This requirement applies even after the EES is launched.

The EU Entry/Exit System is a major development in the way border controls are conducted in the Schengen Area. While it aims to be more efficient and reliable than the traditional manual passport stamping system, the EES will require travelers to adapt to new processes and procedures. UAE residents traveling to Europe can take comfort in the knowledge that the new system is designed to improve security while still allowing hassle-free travel to the Schengen Area.


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