Exit checks have come into force at airports, ports and international rail terminals in the UK.
It is hoped the checks will improve the government’s understanding of who is leaving the UK and create a clearer picture of who is staying in the country.
They will also help the police and security services track the movements of known criminals and terrorists.
The Home Office has been working closely with ports and carriers, who are collecting the exit check data from their customers, since 2013.
The government said earlier it has helped design a system that takes into account the unique needs of businesses and the challenges faced in each port or on each route in order that the new checks are brought in with the least possible impact on customers.
The minister for security and immigration, James Brokenshire, said: “It is right that we have an immigration system that is fair, that tackles illegal immigration and that clamps down on those who try to cheat the system by staying here when they have no right to do so.
“Exit checks will provide us with vital information that confirms a person’s exit from the UK.
“The coalition Government committed to reintroducing them in 2010 and the Immigration Act 2014 put in place legislation which gave carrier and port staff the powers to carry out these checks.
“Port and travel operators are experts in their business and know their customers best, which is why we’ve supported them to design and trial the systems for collecting data in a way that will minimise the impact on customers.”
The UK already has one of the most comprehensive systems in the world for recording who travels across our borders: delivering on our commitment to reintroduce exit checks will make us more secure and better informed than ever.
Exit checks will take place at all airports and ports in the UK.
Information that is included in passports or travel documents will be collected for passengers leaving the country on scheduled commercial international air, sea and rail routes.
The data collected will provide the most comprehensive picture we have ever had of whether those who enter the UK leave when they are supposed to.
The information collected will improve our ability to identify and tighten the immigration routes and visas that are most vulnerable to abuse.
Exit checks data will help us to target individuals who have overstayed their visas and are in the UK illegally.
For example we can use new powers brought in by the Immigration Act 2014 to remove driving licences and prevent individuals from opening bank accounts where we know they have not left the country.
While predominantly an immigration and data tool, the checks will also improve national security by helping the police and security services track the movements of known or suspected criminals and terrorists, supporting the wider work across government and law enforcement agencies.
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