Services Our expert insights reveal the key consumer and industry trends shaping global services, including best-in-class innovations in technology, customer experience and sustainability to thrive in dynamic times.

Will the European Entry/Exit System Cause Border Delays?

Alexander Goransson Profile Picture
Alexander Goransson Bio

2024 will see the introduction of new migration formalities which will impact visitors to Europe’s Schengen zone, with an expected 285 million arrivals into the area this year.

How European travel authorisation schemes, EES and ETIAS, will impact travel

From October 2024, 29 European destinations, mostly EU and/or Schengen countries, will implement the European Entry/Exit System (EES). This could disrupt passage into the Schengen zone for inbound visitors, who will need to provide biometric facial and fingerprint data on arrival.

By mid-2025, the EU is expected to take a second step and implement European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS)

Source: Euromonitor International

This will entail pre-registration formalities by all visiting passport holders from 59 source markets, who do not currently require Schengen visas. These include key sources such as the US and the Schengen zones’ largest neighbour, the UK.

Under the ETIAS scheme, visitors will need to pre-register online by entering family, personal and address details, as well as information on education, employment and the first country to be visited. The ETIAS will cost EUR7 (USD8) and will be valid for unlimited trips over a 3-year period, subject to having a biometric passport with outstanding validity of 90 days and not exceeding the current maximum stay of 90 days within a 180-day period.

ETIAS applications can be made by third parties, such as travel intermediaries, on the visitor’s behalf. The applications are expected to be completed within four days in most cases. From a visitor’s perspective, the scheme is inexpensive and valid for multiple trips, but having to pre-register personal information adds another layer of complexity which could be a deterrent.Chart showing arrivals into EES

Risk for disruption when crossing borders by car

For visitors from outside of Europe, ETIAS will be of little consequence as this is usually pre-planned travel and the EUR7 fee will be marginal relative to the overall spend per trip. Logistically, the border crossing formalities will change only marginally and the facial scanning and fingerprinting are not expected to significantly slow passage through migration at airports.

Nevertheless, EES implementation is being delayed until after the Paris Olympics to avoid any disruption.

The main impact will be on travel between the UK and Schengen zone, by far the largest flow into ETIAS destinations, with over 23% of arrivals

Source: Euromonitor International

Even more of a challenge will be passengers arriving by car on ferries and the Channel Tunnel’s LeShuttle. The latter is expected to be the largest single entry point for cars into the EES zone. Unlike present arrangements, passengers will need to exit their vehicles to be scanned and fingerprinted. The operator, Eurotunnel, estimates that the typical processing time for a car will increase to up to seven minutes, from less than 60 seconds at present.

Eurotunnel benefits from being an integrated operation, running the tunnel, shuttles and terminals. This gives it an advantage over ferries, where shipping companies and ports are run by separate actors. This could place pressure on ferry terminals’ capacity, not only when entering France, but also Spain, which has flows to manage from North Africa. Extended processing times will also apply to all other land borders, such as those in the Balkans.Chart showing sea arrivals

Disinformation main threat to smooth implementation

ETIAS will entail the simultaneous implementation of complex IT systems across 29 countries, which has its own risks. A challenge for the EU will be to build traveller awareness regarding the ETIAS scheme, especially among UK visitors who have been used to needing only a valid passport to visit Europe.

The European Commission sees disinformation about the ETIAS as a key challenge. It is currently aware of approximately 60 unofficial sites providing “information” on the scheme, not all of which are up to date. Disinformation about the scheme could also be spread via social media. There is also the risk of third party sites charging excessive fees to process ETIAS applications on behalf of travellers.

Even if LeShuttle and ferry terminals are well prepared ahead of EES implementation, potential consumer anxiety over border processing times could lead to passengers arriving early and overwhelming waiting areas. In February 2024, regional news site Kent Online ran a headline warning of 14-hour delays, citing a report of a worst case scenario by Kent Count Council, home to the port of Dover and the Channel Tunnel terminal. Further such scare stories could negatively impact consumer confidence in cross channel travel.


  • EES EU: Entry/Exit System
  • ETIAS EU: European Travel Authorisation and Information System


Interested in more insights? Subscribe to our content

Shop Our Reports

Consumer Foodservice in Middle East and Africa

At the end of the review period, consumer foodservice in Middle East and Africa was continuing to recover from the major dip in sales seen in 2020, when…

View Report

Identifying Tactical and Strategic Opportunities in EV Charging

The report examines the global landscape of EV charging, comparing its development against the rising uptake of EVs. It then takes a deep dive into EV charging…

View Report

Consumer Foodservice in Western Europe

After a strong recovery in 2021 and 2022 from the pandemic-induced steep decline seen in 2020, growth in the Western European consumer foodservice industry…

View Report
Passport Our premier global market research database with detailed data and analysis on industries, companies, economies and consumers. Track existing and future opportunities to support critical decision-making across all functions within your organisation Learn More