It’s happening to me for the second time. During a flight from Moscow to Paris, while connecting in Belgrade, an officer stopped, making me wait as all the other passengers looked at me though I represent a threat.

After a long conversation, full of questions, this immigration officer start taking pictures of my passport (main page, Schengen visa, Russian residence). I was so angry, but I couldn’t say anything. Is what he did legal or not? Does he have the right to take a picture of my identity documents using his personal phone?

  • 5
    He probably has no right to take pictures of your papers using his personal phone, but are you certain it was his personal phone? The phone might have been the property of the Serbian border police.
    – phoog
    Nov 12 '18 at 22:16
  • 3
    What an officer might do (or be prevented from doing) in a particular airport would depend on the law in that particular country. Nov 13 '18 at 2:00

Generally, you have the right to decline any such activity, as you have the right to not answer some or all question. However, the officer has the right to deny you entry, and it probably would be the immediate consequence, so you should consider if you want to execute your rights.

Note that you have no right to be admitted, and he can do anything that the law of his country allows, which is typically a lot, before he admits you.

Technically, even if he asks you for something clearly illegal (like having sex with him), or does illegal things, and you raise a stink, you might still be rejected and removed from the country. You can sue the country, and maybe you win, but you might well not be allowed to enter on that day, or ever.


Provided he was acting in an official capacity, you have very little recourse and his actions were lawful. While annoying, what you describe doesn't sound unusual or especially invasive. It may have been a Government owned or sanctioned phone.

Transit zones are still in the sovereign territory of the host country and you are subject to their laws and border controls, including inspection. Keep in mind, not all Passports can use a Transit Zone so you don't have any 'right' to not be checked.

  • 1
    "provided he was acting in an official capacity ... his actions were lawful": this is either incorrect (because officers can violate people's rights) or depends on begging the question (if we accept a definition of "in an official capacity" that excludes unlawful acts).
    – phoog
    Nov 13 '18 at 15:13
  • @phoog Well, no. The statement is entirely correct. But there's no way to know for sure if he was doing a random check of just being a creep. What OP describes doesn't sound particularly unusual, invasive or out of place. Realistically, he wouldn't do that 'just for fun'.
    – Johns-305
    Nov 13 '18 at 15:18
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    No, the statement is one of two things, and neither of those things is "entirely true." One option is that it is entirely false. For example, a border officer who detains a traveler without cause is acting both in an official capacity and unlawfully. The same would be true of improper use of personal data. The second option is, if you argue that an unlawful action is by definition not an official action, that the statement is entirely meaningless.
    – phoog
    Nov 13 '18 at 15:25
  • @phoog Nope, statement is still correct. You're splitting hairs. IF being the operative word. If the officer was not acting in an official capacity, OP can file a complaint/grievance with the appropriate authorities. I'm done with this.
    – Johns-305
    Nov 13 '18 at 15:56
  • 1
    "If the officer was not acting in an official capacity, OP can file a complaint..." are you saying that someone whose rights are violated by an officer acting in an official capacity cannot file a complaint?
    – phoog
    Nov 13 '18 at 16:11

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