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Some Schengen countries have installed border checks "because of covid 19" and some had border checks even before that, often only randomly. I also heard that you're generally required to enter a country through a port of entry. However, I cannot find any such rule regarding Schengen. Therefore my question is: When crossing to such a country as a citizen of a Schengen country, are you required to pass in a way that bears some likelihood of getting checked?

Suppose that you are carrying your national ID / passport as well as any covid certificates necessary and are carrying no goods that would need to be declared. Are you allowed to actively avoid border checks? E.g.:

  • Crossing by car using a dirt road with no checks.
  • Walking across the border in a forest where there obviously will be no border checks.
  • Putting your rubber boots to good use and walking through a small river.
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  • Do you mean the Swiss or Norwegian borders or the other borders within the Schengen area?
    – Willeke
    Jun 11 at 18:57
  • @Willeke It would be nice to know if there are special rules regarding non-EU countries (however, having states that no goods that need to be declared are transported, I don't see why that would make a difference) but I'm mostly interested in crossing from Germany to France and from Germany to Denmark.
    – UTF-8
    Jun 11 at 19:04
  • 9
    You can even spelunk between countries if you so wish, the Baradla cave system has exits in Hungary and Slovakia. Nice walks are installed too.
    – chx
    Jun 11 at 22:16
  • Note the answer to this question.
    – Miguel
    Jun 12 at 9:00
  • Probably relevant: Germany to introduce some border checks during G7 summit
    – jcaron
    Jun 12 at 9:54

4 Answers 4

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The Schengen Border Code tells us:

TITLE III - INTERNAL BORDERS

CHAPTER I - Absence of border control at internal borders

Article 22 - Crossing internal borders

Internal borders may be crossed at any point without a border check on persons, irrespective of their nationality, being carried out

(Emphasis mine)

There are still the usual conditions on still having appropriate ID, any customs-related regulations (especially at borders between Schengen EU and non-EU countries), and so on.

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  • What is the legal definition of 'point' in that context?
    – lalala
    Jun 13 at 7:56
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    @lalala it's not explicitly defined, but the equally official French text uses "lieu," meaning "place." I suspect very strongly that a thorough comparison of the official texts would lead to the conclusion that "any point" means "anywhere."
    – phoog
    Jun 13 at 15:52
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    @lalala The text defines a "border crossing point" explicitly only in the case of an external border. So we have to fall back to the common meaning of any point, which clearly means "anywhere" -- that's the whole goal of Schengen, after all.
    – jcaron
    Jun 13 at 15:58
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As long as you don't break any other laws and fulfill all requirements, you are allowed to cross intra-schengen land borders at any arbitrary point. As you already pointed out yourself, you are of course not allowed to carry illegal or restricted items and depending on national legislation, you may for example be required to carry an id or a passport and to keep with your examples, you can of course not cross by car at a dirt road if the dirt road is not open for public traffic.

This also applies to the Norwegian and Swiss borders. The Norwegian border has been open since the 1950s long before Schengen and of the roundabout 80 road border crossings with Sweden and Finland, only a few are permanently staffed. Hiking and caneoing is also common along the Norwegian border and you can also outside the roads cross arbitrarily back and forth without problems.

There have been some restrictions during the covid pandemic where Schengen countries only allowed entry from other Schengen countries at staffed border crossings, but I am not aware of any such restrictions still in effect.

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From personal experience, I have walked across France-Italy border in Alps multiple times in both directions - using a footpath between two small villages, one on either side of the border. You only realise that you crossed the border because people speak different language in the other village. The distance between the two is about 4 km and it took just over an hour to walk.

As it's only a narrow footpath, there's no chance of any checks. That was clearly legal at the time, as the foot path was clearly sign posted, with distances and so on. Of course, things may have changed in the last couple of years.

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I think the premise of the question is the wrong way round. You ask if it is allowed to actively avoid border check. The reality is that no border checks are the default- there are generally no border checks unless, as with COVID-19, there is a specific reason. This can also include increased drug trafficking or refugees crossing borders.

And the rest of the question is about intent- if you stop me at the border, how can you know whether I was trying to avoid a check? Since there are none, there is nothing to avoid. But of course, that doesn't ever guarantee you to not get stopped at the border.

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