10

The main train route between Tyrol and the rest of Austria passes through Germany via the so-called Deutsches Eck (German corner). If someone, say either a tourist or expat living in Austria, travels from Salzburg to Innsbruck for a day trip, should they bring their passport?

Are there every document checks (by either the German or Austrian police) on Austria-to-Austria trains that pass through Germany?

As discussed here, at least in theory, one should always have a passport when crossing an intra-EU border. But in this case, is one really entering Germany if the train does not stop in Germany?

Also, it may not be reasonable to expect passengers will know that the train will pass through Germany—even looking at a map, it is not obvious that the main railroad from Salzburg to Tyrol goes via Germany.

To be clear, I am referring to trains that do not stop in Germany. (This is the case for all the major ÖBB Railjet and Westbahn trains that pass through the Deutsches Eck, and probably for all such Austrian trains, but I clarify this for completeness.)

1

2 Answers 2

7

TL;DR: Yes, as a non-EEA citizen, you need to carry a passport in the situation you describe in your question.

First of all, both Austrian and German national law require all persons to carry a passport or other recognized travel document when crossing their respective borders. This requirement also applies to the crossing of Schengen internal borders, although there are no permanent immigration checks conducted. At least in theory, there should be no permanent immigration checks at the German-Austrian border. In reality, since 2015, immigration checks when travelling from Austria to Germany are quite common. German police operate permanent checkpoints now at all motorway crossings between Austria and Bavaria and trains from Austria to Germany are very often inspected at the first stop in Germany. From my own experience the last few years, I would estimate that at least 2/3 of all trains from Salzburg to Germany are inspected by the federal police in Freilassing. The police walks through the train and very obviously ignores all white passengers, while asking passengers with a darker skin colour for id. I've always been 'waved through' when driving by car from Austria to Germany and never stopped, but then again, I am a white man driving a car with German license plates.

Then we have the special situation with Austrian trains between Salzburg and Kufstein, which drive through Germany without stop. Due to the mountains and geography, it is for all practical purposes easier to connect the westernmost parts of Austria with the rest of the country by driving through Germany. These trains have, since 1957, been operated as so called privileged transit traffic, meaning that the trains are not subject to border controls. I read in the English Wikipedia article, that this arrangement ceased in 1997 when the Schengen Agreement went into effect, but I believe that is wrong. I can at least find pictures of train destination plates from 2005, where the trains were declared as so called 'corridor trains'. The agreement surely had more practical impact before the Schengen agreement, as it meant, that there was no passport control on these trains, although crossing the Austrian/German border at that time usually ment having your passport or id checked. Now, it still has relevance for customs. Even though both Austria and Germany are in the EU, some consumer goods, e.g. tobacco and coffee, are significantly cheaper in Austria and can only be brought freely into Germany in limited amounts. It also means that the requirements for crossing the border I mentioned in the introduction (carrying a recognized travel document) does not apply on these trains.

There is however one further 'when' and 'but' to this story, since you are asking about the requirements for a non-EU (I assume you actually mean non-EEA) citizen in this situation. You are as a non-EEA citizen in Austria required by law, upon request, to be able to show your passport to the authorities without unreasonable delay, which in law is defined as 'within one hour'. So at last, even if the fact that the train drives through Germany does not in itself trigger a requirement to carry a passport, you would need to carry the passport anyway, as long as you are more than one hour away from where you actually keep your passport.

3
  • 2
    @Ozzy Fremdenpolizeigesetz § 32. (2) - jusline.at/gesetz/fpg/paragraf/32 Commented 2 days ago
  • @Aqualone the law Tor is referencing does require aliens to produce a passport upon request within the hour (paragraph 2). That being said, aliens legally residing in Austria can instead produce a residence permit (paragraph 4 of the law). So when remaining in federal territory, a residence permit is all you need. Your original question is more complex so I don't dare try to answer it.
    – Ozzy
    Commented yesterday
  • Comments have been moved to chat; please do not continue the discussion here. Before posting a comment below this one, please review the purposes of comments. Comments that do not request clarification or suggest improvements usually belong as an answer, on Travel Meta, or in Travel Chat. Comments continuing discussion may be removed.
    – Willeke
    Commented yesterday
0

Austrian trains passing through the Deutsches Eck (German Corner) are corridor trains that may be treated as any other domestic train. In some sense, the train passing through Germany is just like flying through a country's airspace, or passing through a country's territorial waters on a cruise ship (that doesn't stop in said country).

See also the answer to this question that discusses this.


To those who claim that one should always carry one's passport in Austria and/or Germany: even if this is the law, there is zero evidence to show that this is enforced in practice. There are probably thousands of tourists walking on the streets every day in Vienna, Munich, and Berlin etc. with no passport on their person!

Speaking from personal experience: as a non-EU citizen resident in Austria, of the dozens of other expats and long-term visitors that I know, exactly zero of them carry their passport around every day. I've also used my residence card as ID several times during checks at the Austria-Germany and Austria-Italy land borders. Not a single time was I even asked for my passport.

Remember, it's also illegal to handle salmon in suspicious circumstances in the UK.

9
  • 1
    A residence card is often accepted instead of a passport but only available for residents.
    – Willeke
    Commented 16 hours ago
  • A residence card is given to anyone with a long-term visa in Austria. Also, several people (in the other answer and its comments, and in the now-deleted comments to this question) stated or strongly implied that carrying a passport is required for all foreigners not merely temporary visitors.
    – Aqualone
    Commented 12 hours ago
  • Please also be aware that it is not standard advice to "always carry your passport" in Austria. Maybe this is a topic for a different question in its own right...
    – Aqualone
    Commented 12 hours ago
  • 1
    @Aqualone so you're interested in theoretical details, and then you provide an answer focusing only on the most probable happy-day scenario, with anecdotal evidence? Commented 11 hours ago
  • 1
    @Aqualone Besides, your position is not clear either. Do you argue that permanent residents can carry their residence card instead of a passport on an Innsbruck-to-Salzburg train? Or do you argue that they don't have to carry anything, because your expat friends told you so? Commented 10 hours ago

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .