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I am traveling from the United States to the UK in a few days, and I will have a checked suitcase. My layover is in Frankfurt, Germany. Since my final stop is in the UK. Will I go through customs in Frankfurt or in the UK? Also, the two legs of my trip will be with the same airline.

  • You will get your passport stamped in Frankfurt. I am not sure about suitcase, I guess it would happen there too. – user2020302032 Jan 18 '15 at 0:01
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    @user2020302032: No he won't unless he chooses to leave the non-Schengen zone and have a look around. – Henning Makholm Jan 18 '15 at 1:08
  • By the way, "Frankfurt, Germany" is strictly speaking ambiguous, except that only one of the two Frankfurts in Germany has an airport. :-) – Henning Makholm Jan 18 '15 at 1:47
  • possible duplicate of Do I need a visa to transit in the Schengen area? – Vince Jan 18 '15 at 1:49
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    @Vince: No, this asker doesn't seem to be concerned about visas at all (which is understandable if he's American and knows he has visa-free access to both Germany and UK anyway), so it's not a duplicate of that question, which is only about visas. – Henning Makholm Jan 18 '15 at 1:57
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Assuming that you're traveling on one ticket (and, as you say, on the same airline), your luggage will be checked through all the way to your final destination in the UK, and you won't see it as it's transferred between flights at Frankfurt. [If in doubt, check that the airport code of your destination airport appears on your bag claim tag; but most check-in agents will spontaneously tell you whether the bag has been checked through].

When you arrive in the UK, collect your suitcase and go through one of the "arrivals from outside EU" lanes at customs (color-coded red if you have goods to declare, green if you don't).

This is the general procedure for all arriving flights into the EU that connect to an intra-EU flight, unless the final destination is a domestic airport without any customs presence.


For completeness (and in contrast to what someone said in a comment), you will not have to go through immigration in Frankfurt either. Since where you came from (the US) and where you're going to (the UK) are both outside the Schengen area, you don't need to leave the extra-Schengen part of the airport in Frankfurt.

(Of course, if your layover is long enough and you have a passport that gives you visa-free entry to Schengen, you still have a choice of going through immigration anyway and have a look around).

  • (+1) A small detail you might want to add your answer: in the UK, the OP will have to choose between a green and a red channel for customs. – Relaxed Jan 18 '15 at 1:32
  • @Relaxed: What's the difference? I've been to the UK before (always directly from the US). I have not noticed the green vs. red channel – saccades Jan 18 '15 at 2:05
  • I am a bit confused by the part "for all arriving flights into the EU that connect to an intra-EU flight". Frankfurt is in Schengen, London in UK. The rule here is that you will go through customs when you cross a border, I believe, which the asker does not do in Frankfurt, but only in London (and a priori no real link with intra-EU flights). – Vince Jan 18 '15 at 2:05
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    @user89091: Red is for "I need to talk to a customs official about my baggage". Green is for "I don't want to talk to customs (and I'm ready to be prosecuted if it turns out I should have)". – Henning Makholm Jan 18 '15 at 2:08
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    @Vince: Schengen is for passports, i.e. control of people crossing borders. However, all of the EU including the UK is a customs union -- customs is about bringing things into a country, possibly having to pay import tax on them (and possibly having them blocked due to veterinary concerns and/or other contraband regulations). Bags and their contents are what customs is interested in; Schengen doesn't care about them. – Henning Makholm Jan 18 '15 at 2:11

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