What to Know About Europe's New Tourist Registration System

The EES will be introduced in select European countries beginning next year.

We've heard about the ETIAS (and the fee attached to it), which non-EU travelers will need in order to travel to Europe starting in May 2025. Now, you should also know about the EES—which is a different thing, but still something you'll need to do in order to enter EU territories.

Dubbed the post-Brexit Entry-Exit System, the EES is an automated registration system that non-EU travelers who don't require a visa to enter the EU (including UK travelers) will need to do when entering selected countries in Europe. Those include all EU member states (except Cyprus and Ireland) and four non-EU countries in the Schengen Area, namely Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland.

If you're confused about the difference between the ETIAS and the EES, don't worry—we're here to help. While the ETIAS is, de facto, a visa waiver similar to the US' ESTA (which is needed by non-American tourists), the EES is simply an entry and exit pass. According to the ETIAS website, the EES "records every migration in the external Schengen area borders," and both the ETIAS and the EES are made to ensure the safety of all individuals. Basically, the EES will keep track of how long a person stays in the Schengen Area to make sure that nobody overstays their permitted time of 90 days within a 180-day timeframe.

The way it works is pretty simple, too. Upon entering one of the applicable countries from an external EU border, travelers will have to scan their passport or travel document at self-service kiosks (or, in some countries, even on mobile apps). That way, the traveler's information such as name, biometric data, and both entry and exit date and place will be recorded. Legal residents and long-term visa holders will be exempt from the EES procedure.

Air borders, maritime borders, and international land locations in the Schengen Area will be equipped with automated EES barriers, which will scan and check travelers' EES registrations through border guards or e-gates.

Originally, the new registration system was supposed to launch in 2022, but it was then postponed to May 2023. Then, it was once again delayed until the end of the year, but now EU officials have confirmed a new timeframe, and the EES should become operational between the third and fourth quarter of 2024, Euronews reports. According to officials, the reason behind the multiple pushbacks had to do with reported difficulties linked to contractors not meeting deadlines.

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Serena Tara is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist. She will beg you not to put pineapple on pizza. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.