Practices of border control increasingly rely on digital biometrics in order to sort and filter cross-border movements. But while its effects are well examined in migration and border studies, less is known about the intricate ways in which biometric bordering is politically negotiated and socio-technically put into practice. Therefore, in this paper, I trace the contested emergence of one particular scheme of biometric border control currently in the making: the EU’s Smart Borders Package. Proposed by the European Commission in 2013, it aims at digitally registering all third-country nationals’ entries to and exits from the Schengen area, while simultaneously accelerating the border crossing of certain travellers. I argue that, unlike other forms of biometric bordering, the Smart Borders Package problematises border control primarily on the level of its temporalities and constitutes the speed of border crossings, the timing of control as well as third-country nationals’ duration of stay as distinct objects of governing. Meanwhile, the project’s political negotiations have sparked techno-political controversies that repeatedly brought it to the brink of failure. Yet, these controversies have significantly enhanced the intelligibility and practicability of biometric bordering, contributing to the emergence of what I call the self-service border.