British travellers have been issued advice when going through Portugal after authorities recently opened up electronic passport gates to UK citizens.
It means holidaymakers can speed through passport control at specified e-gates at airports in Lisbon, Porto, Faro and Madeira.
The new change had sparked some confusion. Since Brexit, fliers have been required to use manned immigration booths in Portugal to have their passports stamped on entry and departure.
Passport stamps are proof that Brits haven’t overstayed their 90 day visa-free limit, leading UK citizens to wonder if they still need them after going through e-gates.
The UK Foreign Office issued an update on May 19 laying out what travellers need to do – and a warning for people using immigration booths.
Using e-gates in Portugal as a British citizen
UK holidaymakers have been allowed to use the gates since the change on April 25.
The update clarified that residents should not be stamped, though Brits may still get a stamp even when using the e-gates.
The Foreign Office says a ‘virtual stamp’ is issued to Brits using e-gates to enter and exit Portugal, but a border officer ‘may also stamp your passport after passing through the gates for ‘operational reasons’.
Its update reads: “E-gates are in operation at Lisbon, Faro, Porto and Funchal (Madeira) airports for use by British and some other non-EU passport holders. These e-gates are separate to the e-gates for EU/EEA/Swiss citizens.
“On arrival or departure, check you are eligible to use the e-gates and that you are in the right queue. When using an e-gate, your entry/exit is recorded on the computer system. A border officer may also stamp your passport after you have passed through the e-gate; this is for airport operational reasons.”
Warning when using immigration booths
People can still go through immigration booths, but should make sure they’ve gotten stamps.
The update continues: “If you use a manned booth, check that your passport is stamped by the border officer when you enter or exit as a visitor.
“Check your passport is stamped by the border officer when you enter and exit Portugal as a visitor.
“You can use the manned staffed immigration booths or, if you are aged 18 and over, the e-gates designated for UK and some other non-EU nationals. Hand your passport for stamping to the border officer after you have passed through the e-gate.”
What happens if you don’t have virtual or physical passport stamps?
The Foreign Office explains: “If relevant entry or exit stamps are not in your passport or visible to a border officer on the computer system, a border officer will may presume that you have overstayed your visa-free limit.
“If you are missing entry/exit stamps, you can show evidence of when and where you entered or exited the Schengen area and ask the border officer to add this date and location in your passport. Examples of acceptable evidence include boarding passes and tickets.”
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