I will be flying from Tampa, laying over in London (Gatwick airport), then on my way to Sweden (Arlanda airport). I was wondering what to expect regarding Customs and Immigration.

I will be flying round trip on Norwegian airlines here in a few months. I'm curious about what I will need to do when I get to London. I have a 2 hour lay over to Sweden, along with a 5 hour lay over on the way back.

I know the UK is not a part of the Schengen zone, but does this mean I may have to go through Customs and Immigration at both airports? Or not until I reach Sweden?

I have tried to ask my airline about this. One person says yes, another says no. I'm at a loss now.

  • 5
    The question the airline should be able to answer is whether your bags will be checked through or have to be collected and rechecked at Gatwick. Jun 28, 2019 at 0:55

3 Answers 3



International to international flight connections

If you’re arriving at Gatwick from an international flight, are connecting on to another international destination you have some choices to make depending on your circumstances:

  1. If your hold bags are through checked or you’re travelling with hand luggage only and you have your boarding pass, simply follow signs for Flight Connections*. There is no need to clear Passport Control or Customs.


  1. If your hold bags are not through checked, you must collect them at Gatwick. Follow signs to Baggage Reclaim – you will need to pass through Passport Control on your way – and then either use our free GatwickConnects service or proceed to the check-in desk for your next flight.
  • By the letter of the law if your hand luggage contains items that need to be declared to customs, you're meant to to do it at the first port of entry to the EU. In practice, I suspect most people make one declaration when they have their checked bags.
    – origimbo
    Jun 28, 2019 at 10:50
  • 1
    @origimbo especially since one doesn't normally encounter customs officers when transferring from one flight to another in an EU airport. Where would you go if you had something to declare? How would you find the customs officers (assuming you had time to do so when running from your arrival gate to your departure gate)?
    – phoog
    Jun 28, 2019 at 14:05
  • @phoog As with most admin that people rarely bother with, it's officially down to the traveller to be proactive, although I believe all EU airports will provide some official mechanism for airside connections to make contact. I don't know about Gatwick, but for Heathrow this is (or used to be) an unloved phone near secondary security.
    – origimbo
    Jun 28, 2019 at 14:38

I suppose you have both flights on the same ticket. In that case:

  • your luggage will be checked through to your final destination
  • you should get boarding passes for both flights in Tampa
  • you will not need to go through passport control, reclaim your bags, or go through customs in Gatwick
  • you may have to go through security, though
  • you will then proceed directly to your gate

The other answers have covered the specifics but the big picture is that it doesn't really matter. As (presumably) a US citizen, you don't need a visa to visit or transit in the UK so, depending on whether your bags are checked through (ask when you check them in), you either follow the signs to connecting flights or to baggage claim. If you need to go through passport control in either case, you won't have a choice so you can't accidentally do the wrong thing. Likewise in Sweden: when you follow the signs to baggage reclaim, you won't be able to accidentally not go through passport control by doing the wrong thing.

The only cases where you need to know in advance whether you're going through passport control are countries where you'd need a visa.

I have to say, it's really poor that the airline can't answer the simple question you asked them.

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