UK: Passport exit checks reintroduced after 17 years

UK: Passport exit checks reintroduced after 17 years

Anyone leaving the UK will have their passport checked and details sent to the Home Office under new rules now entering force.

The re-introduction of exit checks, which were scrapped in 1998, was part of the Immigration Act passed by Westminster in 2014. The government says the checks will help combat illegal immigration and cross-border crime.

According to the BBC, exit checks have started at the Eurotunnel terminal in Folkestone and P&O Ferries’ terminal in Dover without any major delays.

Data collected on those leaving the UK will be handed over to the Home Office, which says it will “improve our ability to identify and further tighten the immigration routes and visas that are most vulnerable to abuse”.

The only exceptions to the new exit check system will be for coaches of children from the European Economic Area (including the UK and the rest of the EU) who are under the age of 16.

While the system is being rolled out, exit check officers will only verify 25 per cent of scanned passports, with a move to 100 per cent verification by the middle of June. The verification process takes longer and the staggered roll-out is reportedly to prevent disruption on journeys.

Immigration minister James Brokenshire said: “Port and travel operators are experts in their business and know their customers best, which is why we’ve supported them to design and trial the systems for collecting data in a way that will minimise the impact on customers.”

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