back to article's e-Borders zombie still lurks under the English Channel

“The UK government has made a commitment to reintroduce exit checks by 2015. The Home Office will deliver on this commitment,” said the Home Office in July. Actually, it probably won’t, replied deputy prime minister Nick Clegg. Home secretary Theresa May told Parliament’s home affairs committee in April that exit checks were …


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  1. Chemist


    Nobody has checked my passport outbound from Dover for years and I travel 3-4 times a year. The only check I expect on our current journey (I'm in Switzerland at the moment UK-France-Switzerland-Italy-Switzerland-France-UK ) is the UK check at Calais

    1. JohnG Silver badge

      Re: Ferry

      For those using the channel tunnel, the government could just ask Eurotunnel for the data. The Eurotunnel automated check-in terminals at Folkestone always greet me by name before I have provided any data. As I have never provided my car registration details to Eurotunnel, it seems that they use number plate recognition and link this data with passenger bookings when passengers enter the UK.

    2. Uffish

      Re: Dover Ferry

      The Dover port French police box is usually manned but they don't seem to consider passport checks as a normal part of their duties. On the other hand, whenever I turn up earlier than booked (to cadge a lift on an earlier ferry) the car is systematically pulled into the customs inspection shed for a chat and a look in the boot, so at least the UK customs has a working database at Dover.

  2. cortland


    Shall a Channel swimmer be denied entry at the coastline for lack of documents?

  3. Lexxy

    Papers Please

    Ministry of Admission

    Official Bulletin

    All citizens now require an exit permit.

    Glory to Arstotzka.

  4. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Let's face it, they're stuffed.

    The problem is that all governments try and develop policies on the fly, to try and tackle symptoms of a particular (often temporary) problem. Then they get totally snarled up in the unforseen consequences (unforseen by them, everyone else spots them). I'm just waiting for some loony in the Home Office to demand that babies get a passport before they're born (with ultrasound scan photo), to prove they have right of entry to the country!

    They need to go back to principles, which are based on who is allowed to ENTER the country.

    1) British subjects do not need the permission of anyone to leave the country.

    2) British subjects only need to show their passport to enter the country

    3) non-British people entering the country need permission and need to identify themselves (passport, optional visa)

    4) non-British people can leave the country whenever they like.

    So develop some border controls based on the principles. Be consistent. If everyone entering and leaving needs to be checked, then close the border (again) between N.Ireland and RoI.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Let's face it, they're stuffed.

      ....then close the border (again) between N.Ireland and RoI.

      That one really made me laugh, even when it was a "real border" it was never a real border. 22,000 soldiers couldn't close it in the 60's, 70's, 80s, &90's. Short of a Berlin 1961 setup that's a non starter, and even then it can't work because the two economies are so intertwined. There are even plans to share parts of the two health services. As for asking UK citizens from NI to show a passport to travel to the rest of the UK .. fuck off!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Let's face it, they're stuffed.

        Not worth it?

        Not many illegals want to travel to Ireland first (ferry from Spain?) to then slip across the border into NI and thence transit the Irish Sea and on to the allegedly gold-paved streets of metropolitan London.

        1. Maharg

          Re: Let's face it, they're stuffed.

          “Not many illegals want to travel to Ireland first (ferry from Spain?) to then slip across the border into NI and thence transit the Irish Sea and on to the allegedly gold-paved streets of metropolitan London”

          Who says they have to go to London? There are quite a few large cities and towns on the way or closer, or do you think Belfast, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Carlisle, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Cardiff and Swansea don’t have illegal immigrants in them?

        2. BongoJoe

          Re: Let's face it, they're stuffed.

          {i}Not many illegals want to travel to Ireland first (ferry from Spain?) to then slip across the border into NI and thence transit the Irish Sea and on to the allegedly gold-paved streets of metropolitan London.{/i]

          I think that the Government's plan is that when said immigrant sees the streets of Holyhead he gets back on the ferry and retraces his steps back to his point of origin.

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: Let's face it, they're stuffed.

            It used to be a lot more common in the 60s/70s when planes landed at Shannon to refuel

            Somebody would get off the plane from which ever 3rd world country was currently being fscked, claim asylum and be given an Irish passport and a bus ticket to Dublin ferry terminal pretty much on the spot.

            There is a fascinating bio of an irish civil servant where he explains the Father Ted-ness of Irish politics in the era.

    2. Number6

      Re: Let's face it, they're stuffed.

      Technically, if you're a British subject then you can't be denied entry at the border. Of course, they might demand proof, which is where a passport comes in, but it's possible to turn up with an expired passport that is still clearly you and get in with that. Of course, this approach may be thwarted by airlines and ferry companies who won't let you board without a valid passport.

      Passports for young children are largely a joke anyway, my son had his first photo at age two months and was then travelling on that passport up to his fifth birthday, by which time he didn't look anything like the picture.

      1. Chemist

        Re: Let's face it, they're stuffed.

        "Technically, if you're a British subject then you can't be denied entry at the border."

        Certainly my mother returning to the UK, having lost her passport a couple of hours earlier, was allowed in without it at Calais with only the briefest of form filling.

      2. Muscleguy Silver badge

        Re: Let's face it, they're stuffed.

        That works elsewhere too. Going back to NZ before Xmas the eldest could only afford to get one passport renewed so opted for the UK one so she could come back to her job (important). She rocked up to immigration in NZ, NZ citizens queue, presented her expired passport listing her place of birth, NZ. No problem, waved through with a smile and the usual 'welcome home' that greets returning Kiwis. Can you imagine that here?

        Mind you an island nation 3hrs flight from anywhere else and no internal borders is easier to control entry and exit than here. Mind you more than one major criminal has disappeared, probably via fishing boat and last year an Austrian guy who had overstayed for 20 years or so was finally caught. He lived in his car, travelling about doing odd jobs to avoid detection. He got recognised and shopped by a member of the public.

    3. jonathanb Silver badge

      Re: Let's face it, they're stuffed.

      You can't "close the border" between Northern Ireland and Ireland, because there are far to many crossing points, due to the fact that it was originally the same country.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Let's face it, they're stuffed.

        You can't "close the border" ...due to the fact that it was originally the same country.

        There are probably a few Germans who would disagree

        1. Uffish

          Re: Old East/West German border.

          Why did he get the downvotes?

    4. Ian Johnston Silver badge

      Re: Let's face it, they're stuffed.

      British subjects do not need a passport to enter the UK; we need only prove our identity. A passport is the easiest way of doing that, but not the only one.

  5. David Cantrell

    And things will get even more exciting if the Jocks vote to leave.

    1. Number6

      Haven't you heard? The Westminster and Holyrood governments have been quietly asking the big construction firms to tender bids to rebuild Hadrian's Wall in the event of a Yes vote.

      1. Dave Bell

        I am sure that rebuilding Hadrian's Wall will be popular in Newcastle.

  6. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Just join Shengen and get over with it

    Based on the amount of hassle (or actually lack of) when travelling in Shengenized Europe and the amount of hassle at British borders I can say: "We should just join shengen and get over with it".

    This solves it once and for all. I know this will leave a lot of unionised home office parasites out of work so it is rather unsurpsing that anything leading to that has been sabotaged for the last 15 years.

    Europe has had that too and had both its customs and border pararistes removed. They had their saboteurs too (removed and overriden).

    I know about the ID part. I got one and it is quite handy as well. Makes for a good passport supplement/replacement. It allows you to travel around all of the Eu while one of the wannabie dictatorships that still want visas is molesting your passport @ their embassy pretending to do security "checks".

    1. Tony Humphreys

      Re: Just join Shengen and get over with it

      There is one reason overriding all as to why we wont join shengen - money.

      Fewer passports will be shifted, and a huge drop in income. Its as simple as that!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Just join Shengen and get over with it

        "Fewer passports will be shifted "

        Do you think issuing passports makes money ? Not a bureaucrat then

      2. jonathanb Silver badge

        Re: Just join Shengen and get over with it

        You need a passport to get a job, claim benefits, open a bank account and so on, so people will still get them.

      3. Ian 55

        Re: Just join Shengen and get over with it

        Three reasons: the Daily Mail, the Daily Express and the rest of the racist press.

        1. P. Lee Silver badge

          Re: Just join Shengen and get over with it

          What does race have to do with nationality?

    2. h3

      Re: Just join Shengen and get over with it

      I went on the Eurostar fairly recently and it was totally painless getting to Brussels but coming back going through customs took half an hour at St Pancras.

      Is there some way politicians going to and from Europe get to skip that ?

      (If they are so bothered about making Britain great for business. (To the point where they are willing to spend huge amounts of money on making the journey from Leeds to London half an hour shorter but they choose to waste the exact same amount of time for what should be a very simple thing).

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just join Shengen and get over with it

      To be honest we just need to start colonising other worlds, then we can abolish all terrestrial border checks and reserve passports for off-world travel.

      It'll give the Daily Fail et. al. something new to rant about - keeping Johnny Off-Worlder from from coming down here and breathing our naturally occuring oxygen!

    4. JohnG Silver badge

      Re: Just join Shengen and get over with it

      For the UK to join Schengen, there would need to be internal controls i.e. a requirement to carry ID, address registration and probably some other changes to bring the UK into line with other Schnengen states. As ID cards have been thoroughly killed off in the UK, Schengen membership for the UK seems extremely unlikely for the foreseeable future.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Just join Shengen and get over with it

        Whilst ID cards do occur in Scandinavia (i.e. countries inside Schengen) you are not legally required to either carry one on your person, or even get one in the first place - in practice it is true that you will need something like an ID card to deal with banks/get served drinks if you look young, but the point is they are certainly not legally required by either the police or any other authority. And instead of an ID card for the afore described circumstances you could of course use a passport instead if you wish (not that I think it makes much difference either way - from a Big Brother point of view).

        Given this is the case, I don't think the UK would have to do much to comply with Schengen rules. In fact the UK is already part of SIS (Schengen Information System), which is probably the most intrusive part of Schengen --> basically amounts to an information sharing platform for police/security services across borders within Europe. The other thing that *might* be required is the introduction of fingerprint data into the latest generation of passports - probably for me personally the most objectionable aspect of it all (I'm a dual national so have experience of getting both Swedish and UK passports). I like Schengen but dislike the notion of any state authority getting its hands on any more of my biometric data than is strictly speaking necessary.

        Take-home message? Fact UK is not part of Schengen is mostly down to exaggerated fears of Johnny Foreigner IMO, plus the notion that being outside it means it's harder for illegal immigrants to enter the UK. The latter especially is I think somewhat tenuous. No matter, UK joining Schengen wouldn't go down well with the DM/Sun/Times/Telegraph - hence won't happen for a long time to come (if ever).

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What's the betting that requiring "exit papers" is just phase one? The next phase will be a tax^M^M^M administration fee for the papers.

  8. Number6

    Just check the passport of everyone coming in at their port of entry, and require carriers to record the details of everyone leaving and hand it over to the border people, a bit like the US does. Throw in the requirements to collect fingerprints from citizens of any state that imposes a similar requirement on British citizens just to spice up the mix.

    Amend the law so that those wishing to travel on Eurostar to seek asylum in the UK must declare themselves to a UK border official in France before the train leaves Calais, otherwise they get put straight back on the train to France.

    1. MrXavia

      Train? Don't you mean thrown into the channel and required to swim back?

      Seriously though the right to asylum should be on first safe port, so unless France is considered an unsafe nation we should never get any asylum seekers over from france

      1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        @MrXavia - again, welcome to Shengen

        Quote "Seriously though the right to asylum should be on first safe port".

        Once again, waddaya think the Shengen regs are? Exactly that - first safe port. If you try to claim anywhere else you are loaded on the first train/ship/plane to your homeland.

        This particular part of the Shengen regs does not make the Italians (especially the ones living on Lampedusa) and the Spanish very happy, but that is the way it is. So Britain being part of it would have funnily enough made more difficult to claim assylum, not easier. Yeah, I know, the Daily Beobachter and the other nazi rags do not like this fact.

        1. veti Silver badge

          Re: @MrXavia - again, welcome to Shengen

          Why do you think the UK *hasn't* signed up to Schengen?

          Fewer genuine asylum seekers implies fewer bogus asylum seekers (because the latter rely on a healthy population of the former to hide among). Fewer bogus asylum seekers implies less slave labour for employers too tightfisted to pay minimum wage. Less slave labour for them means less backhanders to their MPs, and fewer people getting incensed enough to buy the Daily Fail/Depress/Etc.

          Once you realise that *nobody* involved really means what they are saying - the press are every bit as hypocritical as the politicians, and the activists are mostly being played by someone who's making money - it all starts to make a lot more sense.

  9. JC_

    Interesting article, it explains something I've always wondered about. On my last UK visa application I had to list the entry & exit dates for trips abroad; you'd think that the "Border Agency" would already have this information, which is a pain in the arse to reconstruct from dozens of passport stamps, but clearly not!

    No matter how badly run a government department is, you can count on Theresa May to make it worse.

    1. Ben Boyle

      Same thing for immigrant visa in the US - list every visit ever made to the US, with dates, reason for travel and accommodation addresses.

      Always fun when you've been back and forth at least every six months, for both business and pleasure, over the preceding six or seven years.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sorry to be pedantic, but you do clear both borders on Eurostar too.

    From St Pancras to the continent: French Border Police check your details after the security check.

    From Bruxelles-Midi to the UK: Belgian Border police clear you into a 'dead zone' of... 5 yards deep, enough to queue up for UK Border Agency to check you back into the UK. Those travelling to Lille only go through a different channel.

    From Paris Gare du Nord (and presumably Lille Europe) to the UK: The UK Border Agency checks your paperwork.

    Ferries from Dunkerque (DFDS primarily): First a French border check, then you drive 20 yards to the UK border check where they go through your stuff while you wait.

    Ferries from Dover to Calais (as foot passenger on P&O): You are taken to a UK border + drugs check by bus, before re-boarding it for the drive to the passenger entry of the P&O ferry terminal.

    1. Chemist

      "Ferries from Dover to Calais "

      By car there will normally be no-one bothered at the French check after which you can drive to the ferry company booth and the only check there uses number plate recognition and "Are you Mr xxxxxxx ?"

      Additionally you might be stopped by security to check the vehicle ( for bombs or whatever) - this has never happened in dozens of car crossings but is fairly common in our motorhome

      1. h 2

        I was stopped for a check at Dover a couple of months ago and asked if I had any sharp objects in my vehicle. I don't know if he was an off duty airport guy.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Well, just so long as they don't extend the airport-style checks to liquids... syphoning the petrol into 100ml bottles will be a bitch!

  11. Kubla Cant Silver badge
    Big Brother

    How's it supposed to work anyway?

    So they get a massive list of everybody who comes in to the country, and a similarly-sized list of everybody who leaves. In due course they have a smaller list of people who were entitled to come in but should have left by now.

    What then? Do they scour the country looking for all the aliens who should have left but haven't (or maybe have left, but weren't noticed)? They don't seem to have much success doing that at the moment, so it seems unlikely that an increase in the number of aliens they have to find will make things better.

    1. Chemist

      Re: How's it supposed to work anyway?

      "How's it supposed to work anyway? "

      I like the way you put this. Go to an enormous amount of time and money to generate two enormous lists ( no doubt with inaccuracies ) and then subtract to get a small list that has cost £????? and is still, no doubt, rather inaccurate

    2. John 98

      Re: How's it supposed to work anyway?

      Absolutely correct. I know a failed asylum seeker who phoned the number on those vans they put out in London asking for his passport so he could go home. Answer "We don't have a department for that". Drop this whole massively expensive farce and join Schengen.

      1. Graham Dawson

        Re: How's it supposed to work anyway?

        I'll trade you joining schengen for leaving the rest of the EU and joining the EEA instead. We can be like Norway - who, believe it or not, don't have to implement EU laws without any say. They can and often do ignore them. The only areas they can't ignore are certain areas of regulatory law, which membership of schengen or the EEA requires they comply with.

        However, almost all of the regulatory directives are simply implementations of standards, regulations and so on and so forth created by various committees of the United Nations, the ISO and other such transnational organisations. The EU has very little input except to re-write them into the languages of its member states. As an EU member state we no longer have any individual say on those committees and have to maintain a joint presence with the EU.

        Given that fact, the greatest benefit to us is to be outside the EU so we can properly represent our interests on the primary source of these regulations, and in Schengen and the EEA so we can benefit from the free-trade agreements without having to implement every stupid piece of one-size-fits-all legislation Brussels decides to send our way.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: How's it supposed to work anyway?

          "We can be like Norway - who, believe it or not, don't have to implement EU laws without any say. They can and often do ignore them."

          Except they don't. Norwegian domestic law is surprisingly aligned with EU law because it just makes things easier. It's the same in Iceland - that's why in Iceland's accession negations seven chapters of the treaty were immediately closed without need for the Icelandic government to change domestic law.

          1. Graham Dawson

            Re: How's it supposed to work anyway?

            Way to miss the point. Besides, Norway regularly ignores EU directives, so you're wrong anyway. They have the choice, you see; they can implement what is good for their country and ignore the things that are against their national interest. We can't..

            And Iceland abandoned the accession talks in august.

            1. Dave Bell

              Re: How's it supposed to work anyway?

              A part of the problem is that the EU system requires national parliament to put EU Directives into National Law. There are enough differences in such things as the organisation of courts that details need to be local.

              So every one of the bad European Laws our press rails against has been passed by the UK parliament. The detailed text has been prepared by the British Civil Service. Getting out of the EU will not change who is responsible for the laws well will have to follow. There is no guarantee it will change any of the Bad Laws.

              I do know of things which have been difficult in the UK partly because we don't have structures which the rest of Europe has. For instance, an identity card system which evolved in the Victorian era to support a conscript army. Those armies are obsolete, but the ID cards are a normal part of life, and support Schengen. Similarly, when the system of EU support for agriculture changed in 1992, Britain had to start from scratch with recording land areas and who farmed them. Some of the design choices of the system our glorious leaders set out were difficult to implement.

              So be careful what you ask for. Please.

  12. damian Kelly

    Technically I ought to tell a bunch of people should I scoot over to France on my boat. Do I bother? Not often anymore. I make sure I have the right documentation but I am seldom asked for it beyond occasionally needing proof of who I am to secure a spot in a harbour. Even with a trip to Morocco in the voyage log the customs man (who I seemed to have bumped into rather than explicitly asking to come aboard) seemed more interested in the electronics suite than what I had aboard.....


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