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I am writing this post in an attempt to hear real life experiences regarding this Amsterdam transit situation.

Just for the record, I have read many posts from this website - upwards of 200 - and I found precious information. But, still, I would love for you to give your opinion on this matter.

Alright. I have an upcoming trip from Brazil to Zagreb, Croatia, and one 3-hour layover at Amsterdam Schiphol. Of course before booking, I went and searched information regarding covid-19 restrictions as well as visas and such, I went on KLMs website, TravelDoc, The Netherlands Government website too and realized that yes, I would be able to transit the airport, but not enter Netherlands.

However, yesterday it just occurred to me that I didn't know for SURE that the flight Amsterdam - > Zagreb would be within the non-Schengen airport area. It doesn't make sense otherwise, but I have hotel, travel insurance and other plane tickets booked, I wanted to make sure. And so I started a search craze and went on the KLMs website again. I also went as far as checking which gates both the flight arriving in AMS and leaving AMS use. The flight Sao Paulo - Amsterdam usually arrives at terminals E and F, while the flight Amsterdam - Zagreb leaves from gate D5 to D14. From what I saw, E and F are non-Schengen, and D is mixed.

Now, what is really confusing to me is that the Schiphol Airport website says the following:

"COVID-19 info about transfers If you are transferring on a connecting flight to a non-Schengen or non-EU destination, and you stay in the transfer area at Schiphol and depart within 48 hours, make sure you have a valid flight ticket and travel documents. You must be able to prove that you are in transit. If you change to a connecting flight to a Schengen country or destination within the EU, you will be subject to Dutch entry policy."

Interestingly enough, even The Netherlands Government website appears to make this confusion:

"Transit, transfer You are travelling through the Netherlands to a non-EU country. You must prove that you have a connecting flight to a country outside the Schengen area. The connecting flight must depart within 48 hours of your arrival in Amsterdam. You must not leave the airport’s international transit zone in this period."

It seems to me that they are using EU and Schengen interchangeably, and that makes no sense, because Croatia is non-Schengen. Am I losing my marbles or they are really wrong on this one?

Has anyone here transited through Amsterdam similarly to my situation? Any experienced traveler with experiences to share? Am I in the clear?

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  • 2
    Are both legs booked as a single trip (one PNR)? For completeness, what is your citizenship/country of residence?
    – Traveller
    Jun 9 at 16:34
  • Yes, it is a single trip with KLM. I am a brazilian citizen resident in Brazil.
    – chrismm
    Jun 9 at 17:00
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    Gates D5 to D14 are non-Schengen gates.
    – ajd
    Jun 9 at 17:53
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    "It seems to me that they are using EU and Schengen interchangeably, and that makes no sense, because Croatia is non-Schengen": they are. This is a common point of imprecision that is inexcusable in this context. In addition to confusing travelers bound for non-Schengen EU countries such as Croatia, it can also confuse those flying to non-EU Schengen countries such as Norway.
    – phoog
    Jun 9 at 21:07
  • Right? Like trying to undestand what the difference is is not confusing enough, and then they make it even more confusing by using the wrong terminology on important sources of information. Thank you guys for your comments.
    – chrismm
    Jun 9 at 23:57
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Thanks for your thoughts on this. I was able to successfully transit AMS Schiphol. As soon as I left the plane, however, I was a bit scared because there was a passport pre-check, but all they did was make sure I was the person on the passport. Plus there was a security checkpoint too, and after that, I was free to walk around the non-schengen area of the airport. Immigration in Croatia was a bit tough, but I had all the documents the officer could ever ask for, and he went as far as calling the airBnB guy. Thank god he picked up.

Thanks for your help!!

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You might be able to transit in Amsterdam. There is an EU Entry ban (hence the EU/Schengen confusion) Basically you can transit if you can prove that you are allowed to enter Croatia. source

You are travelling to an EU country/Schengen area country via the Netherlands. You must be able to show you have permission to enter the EU country/Schengen country in question. You can do this with a note verbale from that country’s embassy, for example, or another type of document that proves you can travel there. If you do not have such a document, the Dutch border authorities will determine whether you may travel via the Netherlands. Without a document showing you have permission to enter the EU country/Schengen country in question, you are advised to fly there directly and not via the Netherlands. If you will be making a short stop at a Dutch airport you may need an airport transit visa. If you are travelling to another country via the Netherlands, you must present a negative test result.

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You won't have to leave the non-Schengen area of Schiphol.

While you can say the D gates are "mixed", it's a little misleading. The fact is the D pier has two levels:

  • Lower level (D2 through D57) non-Schengen
  • Upper level (D59 through D87) Schengen

You can see the arrangement on the map: https://www.schiphol.nl/en/airport-maps

Map of the base of D-pier at Schiphol

This is the lower level (level 1). The non-Schengen concourse forms the upper half of the image, and you can see that there's the passport check area separating it from the Schengen concourse (bottom left). The lifts/stairs to the upper level (D59-D87) are marked right next to one of the passport check areas. The non-Schengen concourse continues past the top of the pictured area to piers E through G (similarly, Schengen piers A through C would be further down on the map).

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  • Thank you!! That makes it much clearer
    – chrismm
    Jun 10 at 20:25
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The terminology on the Schiphol website seems coherent. They consistently use “Schengen or EU” precisely because those are two different set of countries and the relevant recommandation covers the whole EU (and not only Schengen countries within the EU).

Even the Dutch government webpage where your quote is from seems reasonably clear. The rules are about entry in the EU as a whole. The paragraph you quoted is from a list of exemptions. Full quote below:

  • You are travelling through the Netherlands to a non-EU country. You must prove that you have a connecting flight to a country outside the Schengen area. The connecting flight must depart within 48 hours of your arrival in Amsterdam. You must not leave the airport’s international transit zone in this period.
  • You are travelling to an EU country/Schengen area country via the Netherlands. You must be able to show you have permission to enter the EU country/Schengen country in question. You can do this with a note verbale from that country’s embassy, for example, or another type of document that proves you can travel there. If you do not have such a document, the Dutch border authorities will determine whether you may travel via the Netherlands. Without a document showing you have permission to enter the EU country/Schengen country in question, you are advised to fly there directly and not via the Netherlands. If you will be making a short stop at a Dutch airport you may need an airport transit visa. If you are travelling to another country via the Netherlands, you must present a negative test result.

The use of the words “Schengen area” in the second sentence of the first bullet point is confusing and sloppy but clearly this bullet point doesn't apply to your situation. If you travel to an EU country, it's the second bullet point that applies. The bold typesetting supports this interpretation too.

Obviously, this doesn't line up exactly with the way the airport is setup or the way regular immigration checks are conducted and leaves non-EU Schengen countries like Norway in an awkward position but the intent is still clear: The Dutch authorities are entitled to ask for evidence that you are allowed to enter Croatia and qualify for an exemption to the EU entry ban beyond that for transit. Any of the other exemptions listed on the page should be enough but you cannot rely on regular transit rules or the lack of permanent passport checking booth in the transfer area to satisfy this rule.

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