Post-Brexit, many UK citizens feared long waiting lines at passport checks within the European Union (EU). However, Portugal has just become the first country in the European Union to open e-gates at airports that allow UK citizens to be fast-tracked, rather than have to have their passports checked manually. The e-gates can be found in airports in Faro in the Algarve, Funchal in Madeira, as well as Lisbon and Porto.
While this is not what was decided with Brexit, EU member states have the right to set their own travel rules. The new measure means that UK citizens are essentially treated in the same manner at the airport as EU citizens. The e-gate system can also be used by nationals from Australia, Japan, Singapore, and New Zealand.
In 2019, around 2.5 million British nationals visited Portugal. Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy PC Agency believes this is the right move for tourism in Portugal, commending the country for “clearly leading the way in recognizing that they have to process vast numbers of British visitors as seamlessly as possible otherwise there would be long queues this summer”.
The e-gates read the passengers’ biometric data to authenticate documents in less than 20 seconds. It uses facial recognition to match the photograph on the document to the passengers and involves the system searching an international database. Quickly and surely, passengers are on their way in no time.