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Treatment of arriving flight for Customs/Immigration - based on airport of departure, or based on passport?

Someone with multiple passports mentioned this to me. It’s an interesting difference between airline ops and GA ops.

If you land at say Gatwick or Heathrow, you end up in a big hall with loads of people, from all kinds of flights. The customs can’t really keep track of who came on which flight – with the exception of flights at certain times when every arrival is a long haul one and then they turn up in force. So you use the exit door marked EU nationals or NON-EU nationals, according to your passport.

If you land from a GA flight, you are assessed according to which country the flight departed. But is this correct? Let’s say you fly Serbia to Germany and you hold a Swedish passport. Why is the flight not intra-schengen? For Customs purposes (control of goods) it probably needs a Customs inspection but for Immigration purposes (control of persons) it does not need an Immigration inspection. Yet, that flight is illegal unless the destination airport has both Customs and Immigration.

It gets even more interesting if someone holds multiple passports. For post-brexit UK, holding an EU passport might be useful in some airline flights (avoid the queue with 100 Russians getting their visas checked) but will make no difference with GA flights. Well, if you arrive at Aero EDNY the minibus driver asks you where you came from and you can tell him anything you want and if you hold an EU passport you can enter the exhibition directly

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Let’s say you fly Serbia to Germany and you hold a Swedish passport. Why is the flight not intra-schengen? For Customs purposes (control of goods) it probably needs a Customs inspection but for Immigration purposes (control of persons) it does not need an Immigration inspection. Yet, that flight is illegal unless the destination airport has both Customs and Immigration.

Serbia to Germany is non-Schengen and non-EU, so both customs and immigration are needed. Wrong example.

The passport you hold doesn’t have anything with the fact which country you’re traveling from and to. If I travel from Paris to Berlin, I can have Nigerian or Swedish passport it’s the same.

The counters where you pass control are divided to EU and non-EU for the efficiency. E.g. at Croatian borders it’s usually EU and non-EU while intra-Schengen you often see CH and NO added to EU.

Last Edited by Emir at 17 Dec 19:10
LDZA LDVA, Croatia

Ah but if you landed at any number of big airports in the EU, from Serbia (or Kathmandu for that matter) and you had an EU passport, you could go into the “EU Nationals” channel.

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

But that is just a queue management or skill of the immigration officer management tool.

Whether the flight is intra schengen only depends of the take-off and landing airfield. If intra-schengen, no immigration check.
So whichever passport you’re traveling on, you have the same absence of check if you do Shoreham-Kemble or Troyes-Lyon Bron or Pontoise-Hamburg or Rome-Madrid.

Nympsfield, United Kingdom

Peter,

intra Schengen flights don´t need any channel, neither EU/EFTA passports nor others.

Extra Schengen, they separate European (including EFTA states normally) from non-European passports, as the former usually are faster tracked. If you queue up at a “All Passports” counter, you may end up behind someone who can´t easily be admitted or who needs deeper checks and therefore a small queue may well turn out to be much slower than a huge one on the European lane.

It will be interesting how UK passports will be treated in the future in such cases (obviously not in the UK, but also there, theoretically either they plaster a “UK” sticker onto the EU/EFTA lane or get their own lanes) but in European airports, where obviously you always will need immigration (as now) and customs as well (post Brexit and transition period).

LSZH, Switzerland

Peter wrote:

Ah but if you landed at any number of big airports in the EU, from Serbia (or Kathmandu for that matter) and you had an EU passport, you could go into the “EU Nationals” channel.

Wrong, first you will pass through passport control, regardless your passport, then you will have the choice of EU/Non-EU which is about customs, not immigration. At least this is how it’s done in most airports I have been to commercially.

Arriving from intra-Schengen you will not pass from passport control, again, regardless your passport.

ESME, ESMS

Dimme wrote:

Wrong, first you will pass through passport control, regardless your passport, then you will have the choice of EU/Non-EU which is about customs, not immigration. At least this is how it’s done in most airports I have been to commercially.

Arriving from intra-Schengen you will not pass from passport control, again, regardless your passport.

Yes but passport is usually divided EU vs non-EU too.

EGTK Oxford

Intra-Schengen is to all intents and purposes a domestic flight, no immigration or customs checks, like a domestic US or UK flight. You don’t even need a passport, you can travel on a national ID card, as many Spaniards and Italians tend to do.

JasonC wrote:

Yes but passport is usually divided EU vs non-EU too.

Yes, but that doesn’t mean you have a choice. You still have to pass passport control regardless the booth.

ESME, ESMS

Dimme wrote:

you will have the choice of EU/Non-EU which is about customs, not immigration. At least this is how it’s done in most airports I have been to commercially.

The choice you mention is at the customs passage, not the passport control. These are the (in)famous red/green doors after baggage collection.

As mentioned by others, there is no passport control when arriving/departing from one Schengen country to/from another. The Schengen and non-Schengen areas of the airport are separate, so that passport checks are only done on those arriving or leaving to/from Schengen, regardless of passport of the passenger.

The flows of people within an international airport are very tightly regulated, depending on “arriving from” country, “departing to” country, and whether transit or not. Lots of permutations that need to be considered when managing pax flows and barriers/doors. Depending on the airport, this can appear quite transparent or for historical reasons it is a real mess and not at all clear how it is managed!

Brexit is going to be a big headache for many international airports, both in the UK and on the continent. I’d add time when travelling commercial starting February, just to take into account all the temporary measures until permanent flows are in place.

Mooney_Driver wrote:

If you queue up at a “All Passports” counter, you may end up behind someone who can´t easily be admitted or who needs deeper checks and therefore a small queue may well turn out to be much slower than a huge one on the European lane.

I think this is the primary/only reason there are separate queues for passport control. Passport control for Schengen nationals is faster than the rest.

Anyone having two passports, one Schengen and one non-Schengen, would be anyway advised to use the Schengen passport at any Schengen passport control if for no other reason than to avoid questions related to a non-Schengen passport such as “when did you enter?” “how long will you stay?” (no stamp, resident visa, etc).

Last Edited by chflyer at 18 Dec 07:13
LSZK, Switzerland
39 Posts
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