A Swedish national was deported from Denmark today. This is a very extraordinary case, since citizens of Nordic countries are usually free to travel without any documents within the Nordic Passport Union, as well as within Schengen (with documents).

If he wish to travel out of Sweden, there is a significant possibility that he will need to have a stopover in Denmark, or at the very least fly over Danish airspace.

The specifics of his deportation is not known, other than that he will no longer be allowed to enter Denmark. Generally speaking, how big of a problem will this pose?

Will he be allowed to fly over Denmark? Will he be allowed to have a stopover in Denmark, as long as he doesn't leave the international terminal? I assume it will work much like when you transit through a country in which you don't have a visa.

Of course, practically speaking, since a flight within the Nordic countries is almost considered a domestic flight (no passport checks), it will be hard to regulate, but let's work from the assumption that he will not enter Denmark unlawfully.

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    Airspace doesn't count. For your other question... in order to transit anywhere in the EEA he will need to get clearance beforehand as do all subjects of a deportation order.
    – Gayot Fow
    Commented Jun 17, 2015 at 12:50
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    Note that it's actually unrelated to the Schengen rules. Schengen does make enforcement more difficult but the same free movement rules (and their exceptions) apply to the UK or Ireland for example.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Jun 17, 2015 at 13:00
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    Sounds like a very safe arrangement for him: now the plane is legally forbidden from crashing. Commented Jun 17, 2015 at 14:46
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    @GayotFow The verdict was today, and I made this question immediately after. The individual is Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, aka anakata from The Pirate Bay. I will add a source as soon as I find one in English.
    – Nix
    Commented Jun 17, 2015 at 19:26
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    @mkennedy It's extraordinary because Nordic countries don't deport each others citizens. I guess EU members don't deport other EU citizens very often either.
    – Nix
    Commented Jun 17, 2015 at 19:50

2 Answers 2


He will be allowed to overfly the country. Overflying is not considering entering the country for immigration purposes, and such arrangements are governed by international treaties. In particular for Community Carriers operating within the EU it is governed by Regulation EC 1008/2008 Chapter III Article 15

  1. Community air carriers shall be entitled to operate intra-Community air services.
  2. Member States shall not subject the operation of intra-Community air services by a Community air carrier to any permit or authorisation.


The Regulation does not spell out whether a country is permitted to deny an airline an overflight right merely on immigration grounds, but I suspect it would fall foul of those provisions.

It is not, I would say, objectively reasonable to deny overflight access to a person who merely passes over the territory and will be leaving it within a few minutes, with no opportunity to land and thereby breach the immigration rule.

(Some countries do require overflying carriers to supply the passenger manifest of every flight for their examination. Very occasionally the country in question has compelled a surprise diversion on the overflying carrier in order to effect the arrest of a person on board, who would not otherwise fall into their hands. See e.g., http://news.blogs.cnn.com/2010/05/30/person-of-interest-arrested-on-diverted-plane/ )

Back to you question, whether the former deportee will be permitted to enter the international part of any airport within Denmark is a matter for Danish regulation. In general, a state has absolute right to deny entry (including before immigration formalities) to any person, except perhaps its own citizens, whether reasonable or not.

Even within the EU, there is only a presumption in favour of admission, it is not a case of absolute right. A deported criminal might be subject to administrative or judicial bar on re-entry, for example.

I am not aware of any definitive rule on the matter with respect to international transit.

  • Is "international transit" even a thing for flights purely within Schengen? Commented Jun 17, 2015 at 12:52
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    In the EU, it's definitely not an absolute right to deny entry or simply a presumption in favour of admission. Countries do indeed retain a right to deny entry to EU citizens, but for specific reasons (“public policy, public security or public health”), under the control of the EUCJ.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Jun 17, 2015 at 12:55
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    Interesting: papersplease.org/wp/2010/06/07/… US regularly denies overflights for unwanted persons. Note this article makes points that are, in my view, not legally sound.
    – Calchas
    Commented Jun 17, 2015 at 13:09

On a practical level, there is absolutely nothing stopping him from flying over, via or into Denmark. As you yourself state, there are no passport checks on leaving Sweden or entering Denmark from a Schengen country, nor will the airline check whether he's entitled to be in Denmark. The only case where he would likely run into trouble is if he attempts to enter Schengen from the outside via Denmark, in which case his deportation order would almost certainly show up in the Schengen Information System if they look it up (and even that's not a given, often EU passport holders are waved through).

On a legal level, he's obviously not allowed to be in Denmark, even for a connecting flight. While this might technically extend to overflights, there's near-zero chance that this would cause issues (and the reason it's not zero is mostly if the flight is forced to divert to Denmark for some reason).

All that said, it will be quite easy for him to avoid Denmark entirely if he wishes to leave Sweden. Yes, Copenhagen is the largest hub for SAS, but there are plenty of alternatives, as there are direct flights from Stockholm-Arlanda alone to 219 destinations. In addition to direct flights, they can connect via Oslo to Norwegian long-haul flights, via London for British Airways, via Frankfurt for Lufthansa, via Amsterdam for KLM, via Dubai for Emirates, via Istanbul for Turkish, etc. Of these, only London and Amsterdam would likely overfly Denmark.

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    Flights to North America from any of those locations would likely fly over Greenland which is a dependency of Denmark. Not sure if the exclusion order applies there, but it would mean that flights that way would also bear a non-zero risk of him ending up in Denmark (technically).
    – Richard
    Commented Jun 17, 2015 at 13:18
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    The question already states that “Of course, practically speaking, since a flight within the Nordic countries is almost considered a domestic flight (no passport checks), it will be hard to regulate, but let's work from the assumption that he will not enter Denmark unlawfully.” What's the point of reiterating this?
    – Relaxed
    Commented Jun 17, 2015 at 13:19
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    @Richard That depends where they're flying to and from. Flights from the UK and Amsterdam to the eastern half of the US tend not to fly over Greenland in my experience. I think I've once been over Greenland on a Heathrow-Minneapolis flight but I've also taken several Heathrow/Amsterdam-Minneapolis flights that didn't go over Greenland. You need something like Heathrow-Denver before the great circle route passed very close to Greenland (ouf course, they usually don't fly the literal great circle but it's a handy guide). Commented Jun 17, 2015 at 22:03
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    @jpatokal Maybe but my point is that, semantics aside, the question already acknowledges all this and ask specifically about what's lawful, not about enforcement.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Jul 8, 2015 at 21:26
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    Schengen has exit checks, so if he tries to fly to somewhere outside schengen following a layover in Denmark he could get into trouble. Commented Jul 30, 2016 at 11:19

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