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I'm traveling from US to Croatia via Frankfurt International.

I vividly remember going through a passport control last time I took this trip. However, at the Frankfurt International Airport website it says:

"You are arriving from outside the Schengen Area and your destination is in a non-Schengen country: Usually no passport check is mandatory, provided that that you do not leave the transit zone. Depending on your nationality, you may require a transit visa. If in doubt, please contact an embassy or consulate of your country"

Now I'm confused because Croatia is not a part of Schengen (but it does belong to EU) and I certainly did not leave the transit area.

Would there be a passport control for my trip? Am I losing my marbles?

  • You're sure the check was at Frankfurt? And that it was a formal check by government border officers? It is pretty common that the airline staff will check your passport before letting you board, to verify your identity and make sure you will be eligible to enter your destination country; any chance that's what you're remembering? – Nate Eldredge Jun 30 at 20:32
  • Have you checked your passport for stamps to jog your memory? Maybe the itinerary wasn't what you remember. Maybe you had another layover in a Schengen country on the way? – jcaron Jun 30 at 21:59
  • I have on occasion gone through passport control unintentionally, or at least without needing to do it, in various Schengen airports. The thing is, if you were arriving from the US and leaving to Croatia, or vice versa, and you went through passport control at least once, you should have gone through passport control twice (or any even number of times). You should also have stamps in your passport, one for each time you went through. If you have no stamps then you probably had your passport checked somewhere without formally crossing the border, whether by the government or the airline. – phoog Jun 30 at 22:06
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    Since your memory of the passport control is vivid, perhaps you can edit your answer to add a description of the circumstances. – phoog Jun 30 at 22:08
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    @phoog unless OP is a Croatian (or other EU) citizen in which case the passport would be inspected but not stamped. – Jan Jul 1 at 11:25
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It is very unlikely that you actually went through a proper immigration checkpoint.

On my last trip out of Frankfurt in September, I had ample time between checking in for my flight to Hong Kong and the plane’s departure so I spent my time exploring how far I could move around airside. The non-Schengen parts of the airport follow a decentralised security concept, i.e. each security checkpoint serves only a couple of gates. After exit immigration but before going through security, I was able to walk all the way from terminal 2 to the centre of terminal 1 where the security checkpoint for the B gates was. I took the SkyTrain back to terminal 2. As the SkyTrain is separated into landside and non-Schengen airside, it should be possible to ride it to reach the non-Schengen A/Z gates too, all without ever passing immigration.

Aside from the security check (the one where your hand luggage is X-rayed), the only other possibilities I can think of are:

  • your passport was checked either as part of the security check (why?) or by the gate staff
  • you ran into a spontaneous document check conducted by some police force. Disclaimer: I have never seen this happen non-Schengen airside but I wouldn’t rule it out completely.
  • you took the wrong turn and accidentally exited the non-Schengen airside (passed through entry immigration) and later entered non-Schengen airside (passed through exit immigration) again.
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  • I just registered to write an opposing answer saying I also vividly remember passing through passport control in Frankfurt (on a layover from the UK to Croatia; both (then) EU countries but outside of the Schengen zone). However, my flight was extremely late and what I actually vividly remember is the security guard telling me I have to personally ask every single person in a huge 45+min queue leading to the security check to let me through, otherwise I will miss my flight. And since it is typical at many airports, maybe I miss-remembered a passport check following the security queue? Not sure – penelope Jul 1 at 12:50

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