Ibiza's Airport

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For the first time since Brexit came into force early last year UK citizens will now be permitted to use the EU e-gates at some Spanish airports. The measure has been introduced by Spain’s Interior Ministry to help avoid bottlenecks at the country’s busiest airports this holiday season.

Holiday makers with a UK passport can now enjoy using the automated border control e-gates to scan their passports in Spanish airports like citizens of EU and Schengen nations. However, this is only being introduced at selected airports, The Local reports.

Many of Spain’s Balearic Islands will see the new rule introduced, as airport staffing cuts have seen mass delays at the non-EU passport queues. The Spanish airports to be implementing these new passport rules include, Alicante, Barcelona, Bilbao, Girona, Gran Canaria, Ibiza, Lanzarote, Madrid, Málaga, Mallorca, Menorca, Valencia, Fuerteventura, Sevilla, and Tenerife Sur.

There will also be an additional 500 border officials deployed across these airports, as they are the busiest in Spain. The measure is being brought in to ease strain on airports ahead of peak holiday season, The Local reports.

Spain is currently seeing around 85% of the pre-Covid tourist numbers month-on-month. The country expects to see a yearly total close to that of 2019, when 83.7m UK tourists flocked to the holiday hotspot.

However, despite the new passport control rules Scots are warned that they will still be required to have their passport stamped at the border at the Spanish airports listed above, even if they are able to use the e-gates. The UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) advises UK citizens to get their passport stamped at a manned booth.

UK citizens are required to have their passport stamped on entering and leaving Schengen countries, such as Spain, without a visa. This is to show that their stay hasn’t exceeded their 90-day visa-free limit, the FCDO advice states.

The FCDO’s latest advice on travelling to Spain states: «Check your passport is stamped if you enter or exit the Schengen area through Spain as a visitor. 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.»

Since Brexit came into effect in January 2021 UK tourists have had to join the non-EU passport queue to have their passports checked by a police officer and stamped. The Irish Mirror reports that this has caused at least 15,000 travellers to miss a flight connection since March 1 at Madrid’s Adolfo Suárez airport alone, Spain’s Iberia airline estimates.

Scots entering Spain will still need to show their fully vaccinated Covid-19 status, a negative Covid-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to departure, or an antigen test taken within 24 hours of departure. Alternatively, they can show a medical certificate or recovery record to prove they've recovered from Covid in the past six-months.

Portugal also made the decision to allow UK citizens to use their e-gates in April. UK citizens must still have their passports stamped on entering and leaving the country, the FCDO advises.