The Government is working closely with ports and carriers for the introduction of exit checks at the border from 8 April.
Exit checks will improve the government’s understanding of who is leaving the UK and create a much clearer picture of who is staying in the country when they have no right to be here. They will also help the police and security services track the movements of known criminals and terrorists.
The Home Office has been working closely with ports and carriers, who are collecting the exit check data from their customers, since 2013. This has helped design a system that takes into account the unique needs of businesses and the challenges faced in each port or on each route in order that the new checks are brought in with the least possible impact on customers. The launch date of 8 April was chosen so that carrier staff are not conducting new procedures for the first time at the busy Easter weekend.
The Minister for Security and Immigration James Brokenshire said:
It is right that we have an immigration system that is fair, that tackles illegal immigration and that clamps down on those who try to cheat the system by staying here when they have no right to do so.
Exit checks will provide us with vital information that confirms a person’s exit from the UK. The coalition Government committed to reintroducing them in 2010 and the Immigration Act 2014 put in place legislation which gave carrier and port staff the powers to carry out these checks.
Port and travel operators are experts in their business and know their customers best, which is why we’ve supported them to design and trial the systems for collecting data in a way that will minimise the impact on customers.
It is vital for the country’s economy that our ports operate smoothly and that families can get away on holiday on time, and important for our security that we continue to strengthen our borders. After two years spent working closely with the ports we will stay focused on successfully introducing these checks together.
The UK already has one of the most comprehensive systems in the world for recording who travels across our borders: delivering on our commitment to reintroduce exit checks will make us more secure and better informed than ever.
Eurotunnel Le Shuttle said:
We are ready for exit checks.
Eurotunnel has expended considerable time and effort to prepare for the Government’s introduction of exit checks at all ports and airports from 8 April 2015.
We have been working hard to ensure that the checks will not affect our customers’ journeys. Customers need not change their travel plans as a result of exit checks, and should turn up as usual for their booked departure.
Advice on travel via our Folkestone terminal, and on how customers can help speed up their journey, is on our website, www.eurotunnel.com.
The Port of Dover said:
The Port of Dover is at the heart of the UK economy handling £100 billion of UK-European trade each year.
To accommodate Exit Checks and minimise disruption to the town and the Port of Dover, we will continue to seek the support of the relevant agencies with which we work closely in order to help us deliver their national security objectives.
We are playing our part, but this issue affects us all and our role is to ensure that together with all partners we keep traffic, Dover and the UK economy moving.
MyFerryLink has been working hard on developing systems that will provide the Exit Checks data requirements for Government at the same time as ensuring the long standing positive customer experience of ferry travel is maintained and we are confident we will achieve that for 8 April and beyond.
MyFerryLink customers can contribute greatly to the successful implementation and continuing operation of Exit Checks by having travel documents for all the passengers in their vehicle to hand on arrival at check-in so that our well trained staff can complete the Exit Checks process in the most efficient and timely manner.
Further MyFerryLink would encourage customers to plan a little extra travel time into their journey to the Port of Dover to ensure they arrive at check-in no later than the minimum check-in time.
How will exit checks work?
Exit checks will take place at all airports and ports in the UK. Information that is included in passports or travel documents will be collected for passengers leaving the country on scheduled commercial international air, sea and rail routes.
The data collected will provide the most comprehensive picture we have ever had of whether those who enter the UK leave when they are supposed to. The information collected will improve our ability to identify and tighten the immigration routes and visas that are most vulnerable to abuse.
Exit checks data will help us to target individuals who have overstayed their visas and are in the UK illegally. For example we can use new powers brought in by the Immigration Act 2014 to remove driving licences and prevent individuals from opening bank accounts where we know they have not left the country.
While predominantly an immigration and data tool, the checks will also improve national security by helping the police and security services track the movements of known or suspected criminals and terrorists, supporting the wider work across Government and our law enforcement agencies.
More information on exit checks can be found here.
The Minister for Security and Immigration James Brokenshire recently visited St Pancras to watch trials of the exit checks procedures. Footage of the visit and an interview with the minister can be found here. Immigration Minister visits St Pancras