The Spanish Tourist Board has announced that Brits can now enter Spain using the Automated Border Control e-gates, but will still need to get their passports stamped once through the gate.
Since Brexit, Brits have been unable to use the e-gates at Spain’s airports, which has led to excruciatingly long queues, with some visitors queueing for a few hours.
Figures show that British visitors actually equate to more than 20 per cent of the foreigners who arrive annually in Spain, so this move will be good news for many.
The Spanish tourist board took to social media to confirm the news of the U-turn saying, "British Citizens can now use the Automated Border Control eGates for Schengen passport holders at select Spanish Airports: Alicante, Barcelona, Bilbao, Girona, Gran Canaria, Ibiza, Lanzarote, Madrid, Málaga, Mallorca, Menorca, Valencia, Fuerteventura, Sevilla, and Tenerife Sur."
Spanish airline Iberia has said that the volume of travellers at Spain’s airports has led to approximately 15,000 passengers missing their connecting flights, due to the long queuing times.
Spanish police union Jupol pointed out that “with summer just around the corner, there will be a notable increase in passengers who will take longer to pass the controls. Therefore, there is no doubt that there will be more congestion.”
So with this in mind a new rule was put in place on June 20, to help ease the pressures at some of Spain’s busiest airports.
Not only will British visitors be able to use the e-gates, meaning they will be able to scan their passports just like any EU or Schengen citizen, but airports will also have reinforcement of roughly 500 extra police officers.
This all sounds great however, British visitors still have to have their passports stamped in accordance with Schengen travel rules. These rules state that those travelling without a visa must have their passport stamped when both entering and leaving Schengen countries, which means that the speed at which the queues are moving has not exactly improved.
The stamping of passports allows authorities to ensure that Schengen visas are not being broken by travellers. In fact, the Schengen Visa Info website states that “A Schengen visa is a short-stay visa that allows a person to travel to any member of the Schengen Area, per stay up to 90 days for tourism or business purposes.”
The latest travel advice from the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) advises those travelling to Spain to “check your passport is stamped if you enter or exit the Schengen area through Spain as a visitor.”
Adding that “Border guards will use passport stamps to check you’re complying with the 90-day visa-free limit for short stays in the Schengen area.
“If relevant entry or exit stamps are not in your passport, border guards will presume that you have overstayed your visa-free limit.
“You can show evidence of when and where you entered or exited the Schengen area, and ask the border guards to add this date and location in your passport.
“Examples of acceptable evidence include boarding passes and tickets.”
Without the exit stamp in your passport, you could be seen as overstaying in the country.
This is because the new restrictions, which have been in place since the UK left the European Union, allow Brits to only stay in Spain for 90 days over a 180-day period.
Updated: August 04, 2022 CET
Updated: August 04, 2022 CET