Tourists going on holiday to Europe are being warned to prepare for ‘chaos’ thanks to a new passport rule at airports.

The new EU Entry/Exit Scheme (EES) is due to come into force this year, which will make facial recognition tech mandatory with eGates at airports inside the EU.

It means you will have to submit fingerprints and facial scans just to enter any EU country such as Spain, France, Italy or Greece. The EU also collects data on your name and ID on your passport, the place you entered or left the EU and the date, as well as a log of any refusals to give data from October 2024.

Anton Radchenko, CEO at flight compensation firm AirAdvisor says the new passport rule could create “chaos” at passport control because the technology is prone to outages like those seen at Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester and Edinburgh recently when a system issue saw huge queues and delays at the airport.

The EU says about the scheme: “The main advantage of the EES is saving time. The EES replaces passport stamping and automates border control procedures, making travelling to European countries using the EES more efficient for the traveller.

“The EES also makes it easier to identify travellers who have no right to enter or who have stayed in the European countries using the EES for too long. It makes it easier to detect travellers using fake identities or passports. Finally, the EES helps to prevent, detect and investigate terrorist offences or other serious criminal offences.

“The EES applies to you if you are a non-EU national travelling to a European country using the EES for a short stay of up to 90 days within any 180 day period.”

The EU also stressed that you will be denied entry if you refuse to give your details, adding: “As a non-EU national travelling for a short stay, if you refuse to provide your biometric data, you will be denied entry into the territory of European countries using EES.”

AirAdvisor’s Anton said: “eGates are notoriously prone to outages, you only need to look back to May 8 when passengers arriving at major airports including Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester and Edinburgh were affected by huge delays due to eGates failing. A nationwide system network issue persisted for more than four hours, with some passengers speaking of spending longer in queues at arrivals than they did on their flight.

“While the new plans are designed to offer ‘frictionless’ travel, if the roll-out of the technology isn’t flawless, passengers could face chaos at UK borders when systems go down. When this technology fails, you need human border staff on hand to process passengers manually, airports will need to be conscious of this – and won’t solely be able to rely on the new technology.

“There are currently around 270 eGates in place at UK airports and railway stations, which will need to be upgraded to accommodate the new technology. Passengers who miss a flight due to security or immigration processing reasons unfortunately do not have the right to request the airline to book a new flight free of charge.

“If you find yourself in this position with a non-refundable fare, you can still talk to airline staff to try and get a refund. Even with a non-refundable ticket, you can still claim back airport taxes and fees, which can be a few hundred pounds, and pay extra to buy a new ticket next day.”