Under plans to strengthen checks at European borders laid out by the European Commission, international travelers would also have their stay logged and monitored by an electronic system, which could become operational by 2015.
The system would alert authorities to persons overstaying the length of their visa.
Biometric data would be submitted by travelers from outside the EU when applying for a visa, while those not needing a permit would be checked on arrival.
Automated border-control systems and guards would be able to check visitors' identities using the biometric data, with EU and trusted travelers from outside the EU able to speed up the process by using automated gates.
The Commission is also investigating the possibility of requiringas an alternative to requiring a visa.
From 2009, all EU passports will feature a digital fingerprint and photograph and,
The measures would apply to the 24 nations within the EU's Schengen zone for passport-free travel. All EU states except Bulgaria, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania,are part of the border-free area, to which non-EU members Norway and Iceland also belong. The U.K. is believed to be .
The Commission is also looking at creating a European border surveillance system to help prevent unauthorized border crossings, reduce the number of illegal immigrants dying at sea, and reduce cross-border crime within the EU.
The Commission said the system would use "state-of-the-art technology" for border-surveillance purposes and focus first on the Mediterranean Sea, the Canary Islands, and the Black Sea before being widened to the "whole maritime domain" of the EU.
Data gathered for the system would be
Nick Heath of Silicon.com reported from London.