Europe has been named as the worse place to travel this summer due to ongoing airport chaos. But the Spanish Tourist Board has introduced a new solution to make travelling to Spain and passing though Spanish airports easier than ever for the millions of Britons that holiday in Spain every year.
Britons have been unable to use the e-gates at Spanish airports since Brexit meant that Britain was no longer part of the EU.
But the Spanish Tourist Board have reversed this decision, and will be allowing Britons to use the automated border control e-gates once again, and they will then have to queue to have their passports stamped once they’ve passed through these gates. Here’s everything you need to know about this policy change, and how it might affect you:
A Huge Impact on Border Control
Spanish border control has experienced a huge surge in visitor numbers in recent months, with post-covid travel finally returning to pre-covid visitor numbers. This, coupled with the lengthier post-Brexit immigration process for Brits, means that queues have increased considerably, with some visitors queuing for a couple of hours or more. More than 20 percent of all foreigners arriving in Spain each year are British nationals, so reducing the queue time for this group will be good news for many. Acording to a statement released via the Spanish tourist board on their Facebook page: "British Citizens can now use the Automated Border Control eGates for Schengen passport holders at select Spanish Airports: Alicante, Barcelona, Bilbao, Girona, Gran Canaria, Ibiza, Lanzarote, Madrid, Málaga, Mallorca, Menorca, Valencia, Fuerteventura, Sevilla, and Tenerife Sur."
This will not only be good news for Britons who can use the e-gates again, it will also be good news for other third-party nationals because the queues that they will experience should decrease without so many Britons in it.
How Else Are the Spanish Authorities Reducing Queue Times?
Queue times in Spanish airlines were becoming problematic. According to Spanish airline Iberia, the huge volume of travelers at Spain’s airports has led to approximately 15,000 passengers missing their connecting flights so far this summer. The reason for these missed connections was long queuing times.
As well as introducing the use of e-gates for British passport holders to mitigate these queue times, the Spanish authorities have also allocated an additional 500 police officers to Spain’s busiest airports.
Why Do I Still Have to Have my Passport Stamped?
The reintroduction of the e-gates for British nationals is great news, but it is important to remember that once you have used these gates, you may still have long queues to have your passport stamped. This is to comply with Schengen travel rules which the Spanish government can’t circumnavigate, and which dictate that all third-party nationals travelling without a visa must have their passport stamped when both entering and leaving Schengen countries.
It is essential that you ensure that your passport is stamped before you leave the airport. According to the Schengen Visa Info website “A Schengen visa is a short-stay visa that allows a person to travel to any member of the Schengen Area, per stay up to 90 days for tourism or business purposes.” and the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) advises those travelling to Spain to “check your passport is stamped if you enter or exit the Schengen area through Spain as a visitor.” This is essential because if your passport isn’t stamped both as you arrive and as you leave the country then, you may appear to have overstayed your 90-day visa-free limit. This could result in difficulties when you try to travel back to the Schengen area again.
If you have left the country without obtaining both an arrival and an exit stamp, then you can ask the border guards to add this to your passport: you can obtain this by showing them your passport, boarding pass, plane ticket, or any other concrete evidence of your arrival and departure from the country.
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