Canary Islands police in Lanzarote make change affecting all British tourists | World | News

National police officers stationed at César Manrique-Lanzarote International Airport have been stamping the passports of British passengers at the controls for flights arriving from the United Kingdom.

This requirement to check passports upon entry and exit from European territory has been in effect since January 1, 2021. The United Kingdom left the European Union on January 31, 2020, but a transitional period was established until the end of that year.

Thus, from the first day of 2021, British citizens are considered nationals of third countries and must undergo thorough checks with mandatory passport stamping, although no visa is required.

But it is now for the first time, after three and a half years without doing so, according to police sources, that an instruction from the Head of the Border Post at César Manrique Airport has clearly and directly ordered officers to stamp the passports of UK citizens.

„It was never done even though we were well aware of the obligation to do so,“ sources consulted by Diario de Lanzarote indicate. This obligation was established in a 2016 European regulation known as the Schengen Borders Code, which mandates passport stamping even if controls are relaxed.

It means British citizens‘ passports must be stamped both upon entry and exit without exception, as the inspection in this case is thorough as required by European regulations.

The instruction was given to airport agents in late June, ordering them to stamp British citizens‘ passports according to directives received from central border authorities of the Directorate General of Police, which has a Central Border Unit.

Until now, despite knowing about this regulation, officers were „subtly and verbally“ instructed by the Local Police Headquarters in Arrecife, „with the approval and knowledge of the Superior Headquarters and the Central Border Unit,“ not to stamp passports under the pretext of „speeding up the passage of British tourists.“

As reported by this newspaper, out of a staff of 49 national police officers assigned to César Manrique Airport, only 30 actually perform their duties at the border post, while the rest are engaged in other services at Arrecife Police Station.

In addition to this reduced number of police officers, there are shortcomings at the airport itself – border police control for departures must be carried out at 11 out of 12 boarding gates, which is practically impossible.

Police sources explained that due to the lack of a single control point for departures, „several simultaneous controls must be conducted at different gates“ as many flights coincide within very tight time frames.

Although national police officers are now following regulations and stamping British passports upon entry and exit, on days with high flight volumes to the UK, such as Tuesdays or Thursdays, this task becomes impossible with current resources.

As a result, on those days about two-thirds of British citizens return to the UK with their passports stamped upon entry but not upon exit, which could lead to serious problems. Since 2021, their stays in the EU are limited to a maximum of 90 days within 180-day periods.

The stamp serves as proof of their actual time spent in EU territory.

For example, if a British tourist spends a week on holiday in Lanzarote in January and wants to return in May but did not have their passport stamped upon exit, it will appear as though they stayed in EU territory all that time. In theory, they should be denied entry both to Lanzarote and any other European border.

„AENA and airlines face thousands of claims from British tourists who will be recorded with an entry stamp but not an exit stamp daily,“ sources added.

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