Eurostar passengers set to be fingerprinted twice in new EU five-step check-in - sparking fears of travel chaos

22 May 2024, 10:17

The new Eurostar check-in system is coming in later this year
The new Eurostar check-in system is coming in later this year. Picture: Alamy

By Kit Heren

Eurostar passengers will have to be fingerprinted twice as part of a complicated new check-in system that authorities say will boost security.

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Passengers will have their photo and prints taken twice - once on each side of the English Channel - as well undergoing as security and exit checks before making the journey.

People making the journey will be sent a guide on how the EU's new Entry/Exit (EES) system works before their trip, which will also explain why it is being brought in.

But there are fears the system could spark "chaos" when it is brought online, which is expected to happen in October this year.

Read more: Exact date for new EU Eurostar checks set and how much earlier you need to arrive revealed

Read more: Sadiq Khan calls on ministers to prevent post-Brexit border checks set to cause Eurostar travel chaos

People queue for Eurostar departures at St Pancras Station in London as a bank holiday weekend begins.
People queue for Eurostar departures at St Pancras Station in London as a bank holiday weekend begins. Picture: Alamy

The system, which is due to be brought in on October 6, will let authorities collect more data on people travelling, which they say will help them improve security. It will replace the physical stamping of passports.

Simon Lejeune, Eurostar’s chief stations and safety officer, told the Telegraph: “We’ve got a big job on our hands to educate our passengers, to start talking around EES publicly and to make sure there is an awareness there.

Eurostar train heading towards France through Ashford in Kent.
Eurostar train heading towards France through Ashford in Kent. Picture: Alamy

“We are investing in our passenger information processes and we are going to design a checklist that enables passengers to know exactly what to expect.”

Eurostar will increase the capacity of its departure system and put more staff on shift to help people check in smoothly.

Mr Lejeune added: “We’ve invested a huge amount of time in modelling passenger flows using a digital twin of the station to anticipate hundreds of scenarios.

"With our knowledge of passenger demographics – when people arrive, what nationalities they are – we know that this setup can cope with the challenges of EES."

Passengers walking past a class 374 Eurostar train at London St Pancras International train station, London, UK
Passengers walking past a class 374 Eurostar train at London St Pancras International train station, London, UK. Picture: Alamy

The Justice and Home Affairs Committee of the House of Lords warned that too few people know about the changes - and this could cause problems when the new system is brought in.

The committee's chairman, Lord Foster of Bath, said: "We have seen major disruption at Dover and Kent when there are delays at the border, and long queues at airports when systems are down.

"Planning for a gradual and well co-ordinated implementation of the new schemes is vital to ensure similar chaos at our borders is avoid".

Eurostar train approaching the Channel Tunnel terminal at Folkestone, Kent, UK
Eurostar train approaching the Channel Tunnel terminal at Folkestone, Kent, UK. Picture: Alamy

Five steps Eurostar passengers will have to go through under new system

  1. Register passport, facial image and fingerprints, and answer four questions about your trip at St Pancras
  2. Go toticket gates at least 45 minutes before your train is set to leave
  3. Go through security checks
  4. Go through UK exit checks
  5. On arrival at France, go to passport control for fingerprint and facial image checks

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