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Freedom of movement and residence for persons in the EU is the cornerstone of Union citizenship, established by the Treaty of Maastricht in 1992.

In my last visit to Bulagria (not Schengen area) as EU-Citizen they have asked me the reason of my visit in Bulgaria at airport. Does I have to tell the reason of my visit when arriving in another EU country? Do they even allow to ask such questions at airport when EU guarantees freedom of movement shall entail the abolition of any discrimination (me non-Caucasian look but EU-citizen) ?

Edit: I have to mention that I was with my friends (also EU-Citizens) and no questions were asked to them.

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    They may ask questions to get further information about you, maybe they didn't think your ID looked like you etc and trying to catch you out. They don't have to let you in, they have their own immigration policy. It would be very serious reasons not to let you in though, e.g. a danger to the public. – BritishSam Apr 26 at 10:08
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    It's there country, they can ask you what they want, I get asked questions coming back to my home country(The UK). They don't have to prove anything to ask you the questions. I get your question is about freedom of movement, but they have a right to protect their country over this, FOM in the EU isnt 100% there are ways to not be admitted, even between schengen, although that's harder to police. – BritishSam Apr 26 at 10:26
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    @NRandhawa the point of my question (I deleted it because I decided it wasn't constructive, but I guess you'd already seen) was that you seem to accept they can stop people who appear to be a threat. But it's not clear how you think that would work, as you don't seem to accept that they're allowed to check whether or not somebody appears to be a threat. – Chris H Apr 26 at 12:38
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    @ChrisH they're certainly allowed to do database lookups when the traveler presents his or her passport or ID card. That doesn't require questioning. N Randhawa: the Schengen Borders Code was significantly amended a couple of years ago (after some high-profile terrorist attacks committed by EU citizens) to require several specific database lookups, where it previously allowed such checks on unspecified databases only "on a non-systematic basis." I am not certain whether this applies to Bulgaria, but in general the focus is definitely on increased scrutiny of free-movement travelers. – phoog Apr 26 at 15:49
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    I don't understand why people are voting to close as opinion-based. This is an objective question about whether EU border guards can ask certain questions. – David Richerby Apr 26 at 16:03
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When you're asked a question, you give more information to a trained examiner than simply what's in your answer. Your tone of voice, degree of eye contact, your body language and facial expressions, how long you take to give an answer: all these and more communicate information. El Al famously extensively train their security personnel to pick up on and correlate all this other data; various customs and border services around the world try, and to varying degrees succeed.

So don't get hung up on the idea that you're being asked a question just because they want to know the answer. Sure, what you say will be of interest to the border guard, but what else you communicate while answering will be of interest also. They're trying to identify people using fake credentials, people entering with the intention of committing crimes, people impersonating other people, and the like, and asking a few simple factual questions gives such people a chance to give themselves away.

You do, as you point out, have a qualified treaty right to enter Bulgaria as an EU Citizen. So you could perfectly happily give anodyne and content-free answers if you wanted: I'm just coming to see Bulgaria, I don't have any particular plans, I don't really know where I'll be staying, etc. You may find your questioning is more prolonged than those who are prepared to answer in detail, but at the end of the day you are an EU Citizen, and your bona fides are in order, so they need a good reason not to admit you, and you're not obliged to provide them with one.

  • You are right. EU has qualified treaty with all EU-member states so if I don't even answer baseless questions at immigration they have no reason to deny me the entry. – N Randhawa Apr 26 at 18:01
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    I don't think the OP has the correct understanding of "right" in this context. As a US citizen I have an absolute right to enter the country, but that didn't stop me from getting a rather long interview about how I spent my time in Mexico, on a trip long ago when I was young and had medium-long hair. – Andrew Lazarus Apr 26 at 18:53
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    @NRandhawa The thing is, if you don't cooperate, it'll take them a lot of questioning until they're absolutely certain that you're really an EU citizen and that you don't fall into one of the categories that would exempt you from the right to enter (such as being a dangerous criminal). As soon as they're satisfied that you're not a threat, they'll gladly let you in, but it may take hours before they come to that conclusion. – TooTea Apr 26 at 20:08
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    @NRandhawa Unless you meant the question in a purely philosophical sense, I think I understand it just fine. They can't just know if you're an EU citizen and they're asking such questions precisely for that one purpose: to find out if you're indeed an EU citizen and not someone else with a fake passport. – TooTea Apr 26 at 20:29
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    @TooTea and that, I had hoped, was the entire thrust of my answer. – MadHatter supports Monica Apr 26 at 20:39
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Freedom of movement does not imply freedom from immigration inspection. The border agent may ask you whatever they want, including nothing at all. Freedom of movement is about the right to travel to, live and work in another member state without the administrative issues of visas and work permits, etc.

Freedom of movement is not absolute, either. If you are deemed a risk to public safety or public health, you may be refused entry.

This is common. As an Irish citizen entering Ireland I am often asked where I went and what I did there.

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    Yes, they are. Being an EU national does not exempt you from being asked questions by immigration when crossing a border. – Richard Apr 26 at 11:48
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    That immigration officials are allowed to ask you questions?! – Richard Apr 26 at 12:00
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    @NRandhawa Essentially no. My proof is that there is no legislation saying that anyone is exempt from immigration procedures. – Richard Apr 26 at 12:38
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    @NRandhawa if you want to know what EU law says, the freedom of movement right is derived from Directive 2004/38/EC - for what it says about entering a country, see Article 5. I'm no lawyer, but I certainly don't see anything in Article 5 (or elsewhere in the directive) to suggest there's any prohibition on asking EU citizens questions about the purpose of their trip. – Chris H Apr 26 at 13:58
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    @NRandhawa see also the summary of the legislation: "Key points: EU citizens with a valid identity card or passport may: Enter another EU country without requiring an exit or entry visa." - nothing to suggest they can't interview you to verify you're not a security risk, they just can't require you to hold a visa. – Chris H Apr 26 at 14:09
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Immigration Officers have to establish that the ID card/passport is a genuine document (not forged or counterfeit) and that the person presenting it is the rightful holder of that document (not an impostor).Tech equipment goes a long way but a conversation with the passenger helps to establish credibility. For example an Officer may ask a few clarifying questions if encountering an 18 year old with long hair and a full beard presenting a passport whose passport photo was taken 5 years earlier when they were a baby-faced school boy with a crew cut. The Officer may ask if the passenger has more recent photo ID such as a driving licence. In respect of intra-EU travelers,these actions are not to impede free movement but to ensure that the person facing the Officer is the person who is entitled to free movement by virtue of presenting a genuine document, of which they are the rightful holder.

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