British holidaymakers travelling to Portugal have been issued an important warning over their boarding passes and passport.
Earlier this month, the Foreign Office said people from the UK arriving in Lisbon, Porto, Faro and Funchal could use fast-track lanes at passport control despite Britain leaving the European Union. This meant Brits could use eGates to avoid passport control queues while visitors from many other non-EU countries would have to wait in line to have their passports manually checked and stamped.
According to ChronicleLive, it states: “On arrival or departure, check you are eligible to use the e-gates and that you are in the right queue. When using an e-gate, your entry/exit is recorded on the computer system.
“A border officer may also stamp your passport after you have passed through the e-gate, this is for airport operational reasons.” The government is asking Brits to make sure that their passports are stamped by border officers – even if they use the eGate system.
The travel update has been issued so that UK holidaymakers understand the important role passport stamps and eGate records play in policing and enforcing its 90-day visa-free limit for short stays. The guidance states: “Border guards use passport stamps and e-gate records to check you’re complying with the 90-day visa-free limit for short stays in the Schengen area.”
The Schengen Area, separate from the EU, is a group of 26 European countries, including Portugal, that agreed to abolish their internal borders to help with the free and unrestricted movement of people. The updated UK travel advice adds: “If relevant entry or exit stamps are not in your passport or visible to a border officer on the computer system, a border officer will presume that you have overstayed your visa-free limit.”