New passport checks for Greece holidaymakers

British holidaymakers heading to Greece this summer have been warned to expect delays at the country’s airports.

Extra passport checks by Greek police are set to mean increased waiting times for Europeans travelling to and from certain destinations, including the UK.

The new security measures have been introduced by Greece under the 2017 Schengen Borders Code regulation, which will eventually be applied by all Schengen member states.

Travellers from non-Schengen countries, including the UK, have been urged to allow extra time to reach their departure gate so that police can carry out additional database checks.

Interpol database

As Britons make more than three million trips to Greece every year, the Foreign Office has recently updated its travel advice to highlight the potential for delays. It said: “You should ensure you arrive at the airport in good time.”

There are 26 countries in the Schengen area, making it the world’s largest visa free zone and allowing nationals from these places to travel free from border checks.

The 2017 directive recommends that member countries enhance their internal security by checking the details of EU citizens travelling from or to a non-Schengen country, including against databases such as Interpol’s list of stolen and lost travel documents.

Brexit arrangements

The UK and Ireland do not participate in the borders and visas aspects of the Schengen agreement and continue to operate border controls with other EU member states.

British citizens can still travel across Europe visa-free for a maximum of 90 days, something that the European Union has said will continue after Brexit. This is based on there being a reciprocal agreement for EU citizens travelling without visas to the UK for short stays.

One impact of Brexit, however, is the need for Britons to ensure their passports are up to date in the case of a no-deal withdrawal from the EU. This means the document will need to be less than 10 years old and have at least six months on it before it expires.

Failure to ensure this will mean not being able to travel to most EU countries as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. A passport renewal usually takes three weeks.