EU. New European Union rules have been introduced forcing all passengers crossing the Schengen* area’s external borders to have their passports scanned by the police, slowing down processing times and potentially affecting dwell times and spending in non-Schengen shopping areas of EU airports.

An amendment of the EU’s Schengen legislation requires all passports to be scanned at external borders

Previously, only a proportion of passengers who went through passport control had their documents scanned. However – since 7 October – as a result of the EU’s amendment of Schengen legislation, all passports are being compulsorily scanned against relevant databases as part of a drive to improve security and monitoring.

At Copenhagen Airport, Vice President Communication, Henrik Peter Jørgensen, commented: “We’re working closely with the police to do everything we can to help passengers get through as quickly and smoothly as possible. However, we do expect increased waiting times in passport control, so we’re asking passengers travelling out of the Schengen area to arrive in good time.”

Gateways across the EU are having to increase the numbers of officers and service staff to help passengers get through as fast as possible. At Copenhagen, the airport added four new passport control lanes before the summer peak and expects to have four more in place by the end of the year. “All the same, we hope that passengers travelling out of the Schengen area will remain patient,” said Jørgensen.

The Danish hub is also building two new passport control areas in Pier E and Pier C at a cost of more than DKK700 million ($112 million), and anticipates its long-term capacity for passport control will treble.

The new EU rules only apply to passengers who are leaving the Schengen area. For destination within it, including all domestic passengers, the rules remain unchanged.

Countries within the Schengen agreement are: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden, as well as Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland.

* The Schengen area is the common travel area within the EU, and some non-EU states, which allows the free movement of persons without border checks – considered a fundamental right guaranteed by the EU to its citizens. Some 400 million EU citizens have this right as well as many non-EU nationals and tourists.