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Since Iceland is part of the Schengen Area is it possible to travel there by plane from mainland Europe (Schengen Area country) without a passport?

The Schengen Area has abolished passport control between mutual border countries, which would lead me to believe that either every country borders Iceland (ie. you can travel to/from there passport free) or no country has a border with them (ie. there is no point in them being in the Schengen Area).

As there is no passport control between Schengen Area countries, could you fly from say Germany to Iceland with no passport check on arrival in Iceland? I'm assuming you still have to show your passport at security in your departure airport.

The reason I am curious about this is because I live in Ireland (not a Schengen Area country). Another question I have is why isn't Ireland in the Schengen Area, while Iceland is, seeing as neither country share a land border with a country in the Schengen Area?

Could it be because of Schengen Area visas? For example - is Iceland happy for American Schengen visa holders to travel there freely, while Ireland would rather have them apply for specific Irish visas?

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Yes, you can travel between Iceland and other Schengen countries without going through any passport checks. I've done this many, many times.

Note, however, that the airline may require a passport (or other Schengen approved travel document) before they'll let you board the aircraft.

Thus, in practice, you'll usually want to have your passport along for trips to Iceland.

  • Note: "without passport" is not true. There is just no systematic passport control, but every country is allowed (and it should do) random checks. – Giacomo Catenazzi Feb 26 '18 at 16:56
  • @GiacomoCatenazzi "should do"? Many countries find random checks to be an impermissible violation of civil rights. – phoog Feb 26 '18 at 22:18
  • @phoog: random check at borders. – Giacomo Catenazzi Feb 27 '18 at 6:14
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To answer the question about why Ireland is not part of the Schengen Zone: The UK explicitly opted out of the Schengen Agreement. Ireland shares a land border with the UK (Northern Ireland) and there is strong political will for that border to be a soft border. As a result, Ireland has opted to form the “Common Travel Area” with the UK which is a collective Immigration zone that is distinct from the Schengen Zone.

  • Cheers. What would be the point in Ireland and the UK not being in the Schengen Area though? At the moment we share a land border and are both in the EU. Iceland don’t share a land border with anyone so wouldn’t they just be subject to normal EU immigration policies? I’ll ask this as another question. I realise I’ve probably made a bit of a mess of this one. – Andre Feb 26 '18 at 15:04
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    @Andre the basic point of the UK remaining out of Schengen is one of sovereignty. The UK did not want to allow other countries to be able to determine who could enter the UK. The CTA is a very different arrangement from Schengen; for one thing, an Irish visa does not permit its bearer to enter the UK (unless it is endorsed for the British-Irish Visa Scheme, which is relatively new and rather limited in scope). That question really does belong on Politics, not here. While you're at it, why not ask about Greece and Malta. – phoog Feb 26 '18 at 15:25
  • @phoog. You mean Cyprus, not Greece, I think. – TRiG Mar 6 at 13:26
  • @TRiG I mean Greece. Cyprus is not in the Schengen area. Greece and Malta are both, like Iceland, Schengen members that do not share a land border with any other Schengen country. – phoog Mar 6 at 14:13
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The main purpose of the Schengen rules is to let EU citizens drive across land borders without having to stop and show papers. The unified visa system is just a side effect of this goal. So there was an abolition of systematic passport controls but not an abolition of the requirement to carry passports and to show them to competent authorities upon demand.

Distinct from that are airline security checks, which apply to domestic flights as well. Airlines want to know whom they carry.

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    While the original Schengen treaty spoke of "resolve to achieve the abolition of checks at their common borders on the movement of nationals of the Member States," the current TFEU says "The Union shall develop a policy with a view to ensuring the absence of any controls on persons, whatever their nationality, when crossing internal borders." So it may be more accurate to say that the purpose of the Schengen rules was to let EU citizens cross borders without having to stop, but that the current purpose is to allow everyone to cross borders (by any means) without immigration checks. – phoog Feb 26 '18 at 22:27
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    Furthermore, the EU has no requirement to carry ID; only some member states do. Other member states do not. – phoog Feb 26 '18 at 22:27
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    @phoog, it would be impossible to have open borders for EU nationals without open borders for all. I seriously doubt that there would be the political consensus to open travel for foreigners if it wasn't to remove checkpoints for the citizens. – o.m. Feb 26 '18 at 22:39
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    @o.m. I don't doubt it, especially since the "abolition of checks" has been somewhat rolled back even for EU citizens in the last year. But the fact remains that the stated goal of the Union is open internal borders for all. – phoog Feb 26 '18 at 22:44

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