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Brexit For Members

Will Brits in Italy face travel problems under new EES passport system?

Clare Speak
Clare Speak - [email protected]
Will Brits in Italy face travel problems under new EES passport system?
UK border signage is pictured at the passport control in Arrivals in Terminal 2 at Heathrow Airport in London. (Photo by Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP)

The EU's new Entry & Exit System (EES) of enhanced passport controls is due to come into force later this year, but will this create more headaches for non-EU nationals who need to prove their Italian residency rights?

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Currently scheduled to start in autumn 2024 (unless it’s delayed again, which is possible) the EU’s new Entry & Exit System is an enhanced passport check at external EU borders.

You can find a full explanation of the new system and what it means for travellers HERE.

Those crossing an external EU or Schengen border for the first time will be required to complete EES ‘pre-registration’ formalities, including facial scan and fingerprinting.

Several groups are exempt from EES, and one of them is non-EU nationals who have a residency permit or long-stay visa for an EU country.

A European Commission spokesman told The Local: “Non-EU citizens residing in the EU are not in the scope of the EES and will not be subject to pre-enrollment of data in the EES via self-service systems. The use of automation remains under the responsibility of the Member States and its availability in border crossing points is not mandatory.

“When crossing the borders, holders of EU residence permits should be able to present to the border authorities their valid travel documents and residence permits.”

READ ALSO: What will EES passport system mean for foreigners living in Europe?

But there have understandably been questions about how this exemption will work in practice.

Most airports, ports or terminals have two passport queues – EU and non-EU. It remains unclear whether the non-EU queue will now have a separate section for those who are exempt from EES.

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It appears that exempt groups will not be able to use the automated passport scanners – since those cannot scan additional documents like residency permits – but should instead use manned passport booths.

What does this mean for travel between Italy and the UK?

It seems that nothing will therefore change for those who already have to show their Italian residency documents along with their passport when travelling to and from the UK (or another non-EU country) in order to avoid having their passport incorrectly stamped.

UK citizens who were legally resident in Italy before the end of the Brexit transition period are in a somewhat unusual position, as Italy is one of a handful of “declaratory” countries in the EU where getting a post-Brexit residency card (Italy's is known as the 'carta di soggiorno') was optional, rather than compulsory.

The British government has long recommended that British nationals who were resident in Italy before Brexit should obtain the card as it's the easiest way to prove residency rights and avoid delays at the border.

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In practice, many of Italy's British residents have since found that the post-Brexit residency card is also necessary in order to complete various bureaucratic procedures within Italy.

READ ALSO: EES: Could the launch of Europe's new border system be delayed again?

But will the EES system mean that the card now becomes a de facto requirement when travelling between Italy and the UK?

The British government on June 10th, 2024 updated its Living in Italy website to state: "British residents in the EU will be exempt from registering with the EES but they will be required to show a residency document as agreed under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement or the Schengen Border Code."

For British residents in Italy, this will be one of the following documents, as detailed in Annex 22 of the Border Code:

  • Permesso di Soggiorno (Italian residency permit);
  • Carta di soggiorno e Carta di soggiorno permanente (Post-Brexit residency cards granted to UK nationals and their family members under the WA);
  • Modulo di richiesta della Carta di soggiorno (Application form for a residency card under the WA)

Therefore it seems that the carta di soggiorno will be required for travel for those who do not have a permesso di soggiorno (residency permit), which is generally the case for British nationals who were resident in Italy before Brexit, as they arrived under EU freedom of movement rules and were not subject to a residency permit requirement.

In practice though, EES does not appear to change much for this group, who already need to show the carta di soggiorno (or another document from the list above) along with their passport when travelling in order to avoid getting a stamp in their passport.

You can find our full Q&A on EES HERE.

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