Travellers Face Exit Checks When Leaving UK

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Travellers leaving the UK will have to undergo exit checks to help police track illegal immigrants, criminals and terrorists staying in the country without permission.

The exit checks will collect personal data on passports as people leave the country by sea, air or rail via the Eurotunnel link with France.

The information will allow police and border control authorities to identify much sooner whether immigrants or tourists have overstayed their visas and are staying in the country illegally.

The data will be used to electronically bar people from staying in the UK by withdrawing driving licences, stopping them from opening bank accounts and removing the right to rent.

Under the right to rent try-out currently underway in the West Midlands, landlords must check passports and visas allow the right to live in the UK before letting a property.

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Illegal immigration

The measure will be rolled out across the rest of the UK later this year.

Police and security services can also access the information to keep tabs on suspected criminals and terrorists.

Exit checks will be implemented at ports and airports from April 8, 2015.

A Home Office spokesman said: “Britain needs a fair immigration system that caters for tourists and businesses but also cracks down on illegal immigration so people who have no right to stay in the country are dealt with as quickly as possible.

“Exit checks will provide much of the information the authorities need to carry out this vital task. In the long term, the checks will help tighten border and visa protocols by highlighting strong and weak areas of our procedures.”

The exit checks process has taken the Home Office and travel carriers two years to design and implement.

Sophisticated systems

The aim was to operate a system that delivered the information needed by government agencies concerned with immigration issues while at the same time disrupting travel for everyone else as little as possible.

“Britain already has one of the most sophisticated immigration systems in the world, and exit checks take them a step further,” said the spokesman.

“Ports and carriers are ready to work with us on this and we hope to see a seamless introduction with the minimum of disruption over the next few weeks.”

Several ports and carriers have confirmed that they are ready for exit checks.

“We have worked on this for a while and passengers should not face any delays and should not change their travel plans because of the new checks,” said a spokesman for Eurotunnel.

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