I am a non-EU citizen with permanent residence in EU. My wife and my kid are EU citizens. When travelling togehter by car, are we allowed to use the "EU citizen only lane" when crossing borders, although I am not EU-citizen?

  • Who's driving the car? Jul 14, 2021 at 1:03
  • 12
    @Studoku Why would that matter?
    – Relaxed
    Jul 14, 2021 at 7:08
  • 2
    @Studoku I am driving, does it matter?
    – arminb
    Jul 14, 2021 at 7:30
  • I would say no, but if the other lane is crammed and they oo not stop the du lane it’s worth a try. You can’t get Morton sent back in line, however I don’t know many customs controls where this is an issue. Inside the Schengen area you normally have no problems with controls and unless you are standing in a truck queue even border crossing from Suisse is fast )it might be an issue non the eastern borders however, especially if Corona restrictions are again in place)
    – eckes
    Jul 15, 2021 at 4:25
  • BTW it is possible to let her leaf the car, get pedestrian control and you pick her up afterwards, but be careful that can be a security hazard as many border crossings are essentially multi lane highways, I encountered pissy border agents in such situations,
    – eckes
    Jul 15, 2021 at 4:29

2 Answers 2


You are entitled to use that lane, not merely by car but also in airports, etc. as you are in fact covered by the EU freedom of movement (as the spouse of an EU citizen travelling with her).

The same would not be true for another third-country citizen who would happen to share a vehicle with unrelated EU citizens (the Schengen Borders Code is silent on this, which means there is no special rule or exemption in this situation).

  • 13
    source backing that?
    – njzk2
    Jul 13, 2021 at 21:01
  • 5
    Curious… in the US’ land border crossings it’s the opposite in my experience: having even 1 non-US pax in a car means having to take the slow-lane at Blaine, WA.
    – Dai
    Jul 13, 2021 at 21:45
  • 7
    @njzk2 Regulation 2016/399 (Schengen Borders Code) article 10. See also article 2 and directive 2004/38/EC for the definition of 'persons enjoying the right of free movement under Union law'.
    – Relaxed
    Jul 13, 2021 at 22:23
  • 14
    @Dai Yes, it's the same in the EU, that's what I am explaining in the second paragraph. It's just that in this case the other passenger is not merely a regular third-country citizen. The EU/EEA/CH lane is always for EU citizens and their immediate family ('persons enjoying the right of free movement under Union law').
    – Relaxed
    Jul 13, 2021 at 22:30
  • 6
    @amon It's really the spousal relationship. Freedom of movement also covers short visits no matter where you reside (cf. article 5 and 6 of directive 2004/38/EC). Being a permanent resident can be useful to exempt you from a visa requirement but plays no role in deciding which lane you can take at the border. Conversely, a long-term resident who is not a member of the family of an EU citizen does not enjoy the right for free movement under Union law and is not supposed to use the EU/EEA/CH lane at the border.
    – Relaxed
    Jul 14, 2021 at 9:00

In addition to Relaxed's answer here are the relevant articles backing it:

Regulation 2016/399 (Schengen Borders Code)

Article 2:

  1. ‘persons enjoying the right of free movement under Union law’ means:

    (b) third-country nationals and their family members, whatever their nationality, who, under agreements between the Union and its Member States, on the one hand, and those third countries, on the other hand, enjoy rights of free movement equivalent to those of Union citizens;

Article 10:

  1. Persons enjoying the right of free movement under Union law are entitled to use the lanes indicated by the sign shown in Part A (‘EU, EEA, CH’) of Annex III. They may also use the lanes indicated by the sign shown in Part B1 (‘visa not required’) and Part B2 (‘all passports’) of Annex III.

    Third-country nationals who are not obliged to possess a visa when crossing the external borders of the Member States in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 539/2001 and third-country nationals who hold a valid residence permit or long- stay visa may use the lanes indicated by the sign shown in Part B1 (‘visa not required’) of Annex III to this Regulation.

    They may also use the lanes indicated by the sign shown in Part B2 (‘all passports’) of Annex III to this Regulation.

  • For article 2, I think this part is more relevant to the asker: (a) Union citizens within the meaning of Article 20(1) TFEU, and third-country nationals who are members of the family of a Union citizen exercising his or her right to free movement to whom Directive 2004/38/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council (21) applies; We have no idea if his country has an agreement with the EU allowing free movement while we certainly know that he is a family member of an EU national.
    – meego
    Jul 22, 2021 at 11:41

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