I recently came back through Dublin airport and used e-Gates. On one of the signs, it said that one of the requirements besides being an EU/EEA passport holder is that the passenger must be over 18yrs old. I also saw this while arriving in Schiphol airport in the Netherlands?

Why is this? One of my friends who worked in the airport told me that it's a measure to prevent children being trafficked or 'stolen' by one parent if the other doesn't agree. In other words, they have to meet an immigration officer who would question them with greater detail about their travel.

Children over 14 can travel unaccompanied to various countries so I don't see what other reason there may be for this rule

  • 1
    Shouldn't this be a legal question, rather than a travel one?
    – Mr_Bober
    Jun 25, 2021 at 20:54
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    I don't know the reasons, but one reason may be that facial recognition hasn't been optimized for kids (or for kid's rapidly changing facial structure). Jun 26, 2021 at 2:46

1 Answer 1


In France, the PARAFE system is open to people aged 12 or more when arriving in France but you have to be over 18 when departing. This fact suggests several things to me:

  • The rule you observed is not universal in European countries,
  • There is no technical impediment or performance issue so serious that it would rule out use by younger people,
  • It does have something to do with concerns about minors leaving the territory

In many countries, the rules around that are a little more complicated than “children over 14 can travel unaccompanied”, which is probably why they are directed to a regular passport kiosk. Interaction with border guards can be an occasion to check whether a child is actually traveling alone or with an adult.

  • I'd also add that minors don't vote and rarely protest so there's an inherent trend to create laws restricting people under the age of 18. Similarly foreigners are frequently being discriminated against in ways that don't make sense. Not saying under-18 trafficking isn't a real concern but political considerations are also present.
    – JonathanReez
    Jun 25, 2021 at 20:11
  • One related example is that e-Gates are usually unavailable to non-EU citizens, even non-EU citizens who are permanent residents of the EU with a biometric residency card. Non-citizens don't vote so there's very little incentive to help them out.
    – JonathanReez
    Jun 25, 2021 at 20:14
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    @JonathanReez, I expect that just one mother raising a fuss about her baby being abducted by a partner beats the inconvenience of thousands of legitimate travelers.
    – o.m.
    Jun 26, 2021 at 11:00
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    @o.m. It's not necessarily the father (or other partner) doing the abducting (or trafficking) and the mother who's the custodial parent. No need to build in assumptions. And to JonathanReez, underage arranged marriages or forced marriages abroad are one of the common scenarios, and that is something that can be done by either parent, older brother/sister, etc. FGM is another scenario, and so is slavery.
    – smci
    Jun 26, 2021 at 11:50
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    @JonathanReez In general, I don't think e-gates were installed as a favour or privilege for citizens, the main goal is to save money on border guards salaries. Opening them to as many people as possible directly contributes to that.
    – Relaxed
    Feb 13, 2022 at 18:50

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