For example, a would the exit of a say a Dutch national travelling on a Dutch passport via a German international airport to an Asian country be logged? If yes, for how long is this information retained?

Also, does it make a difference if the automated ePassport gates are used rather than the human officers?

3 Answers 3


Yes, while not fully harmonised, it is a safe assumption for the countries you mentioned. It follows from a proposal to the EU members in 2007 (resubmitted in 2011)...

PNR data is information provided by passengers during the reservation and booking of tickets and when checking in on flights, as well as collected by air carriers for their own commercial purposes. It contains several different types of information, such as travel dates, travel itinerary, ticket information, contact details, travel agent through which the flight was booked, means of payment used, seat number and baggage information. The data is stored in the airlines' reservation and departure control databases.

Many states access PNR data for the purpose of fighting serious crime and terrorism. PNR data has been used manually for almost 60 years by customs and law enforcement authorities around the world. Technological developments have made it possible to use PNR data more systematically for law enforcement purposes.

Source: Passenger Name Record (PNR)

The current state of affairs is most of the member states have passed their national legislation and have either implemented the proposal or in an advanced test phase.

Currently up to 16 EU countries have decided to collect PNR data, according to Timothy Kirkhope, a British Conservative MEP who steers the file through Parliament. But because there is no EU framework, he said, “airlines have no clarity on how to process the data, and passengers have no clear EU-wide rights to protect booking information such as credit card details, seat number and emergency contact”.

Statistics from the Parliament show that most EU countries already have their own PNR systems in place. In 2013, the European Commission spent €50 million to start domestic PNR collection in 14 member states.

Source: Passenger name record law passes first hurdle in Parliament

The UK enacted the legislation in 2008 in the form of a Statutory Instrument: The Immigration and Police (Passenger, Crew and Service Information) Order 2008

In 2010, the European Commission issued a communication on the sharing of this information with non-member states: On the global approach to transfers of Passenger Name Record (PNR) data to third countries

Earlier this year, 16 July 2015, the proposal was put to a vote and carried by a slight majority. The full EU framework and harmonisation by members will presumably be complete in 2016.

...a Dutch national travelling on a Dutch passport via a German international airport to an Asian country be logged?

Having said all of that, we turn to your specific question. The Netherlands has an EU compliant PNR system in place and is still formally in a testing phase. Germany has not yet developed an EU compliant PNR, but uses the version they implemented before the proposal was made. So the answer to your question is still 'yes', but data originating in Germany is not kept in an EU compliant format.

If yes, for how long is this information retained?

The main legislative instrument at EU level governing this field was the Data Retention Directive, which was adopted in November 2006 following the Madrid terrorist train bombings in 2004 and the public transport bombings in London in 2005. These resulted in a text which gave room for different applications at national level and which did not guarantee a sufficient level of harmonisation.

Source: Passenger name record law passes first hurdle in Parliament

does it make a difference if the automated ePassport gates are used rather than the human officers?

No difference, the border inspection process does not play a role in the harvesting of information. Per the proposal the information is collected at the booking and reservation stage.

  • This answer only covers air travel?
    – Calchas
    May 26, 2016 at 8:55
  • The API is meant to cover sea and rail as well as air. The implementation is two dimensional covering member state on one axis and type of transport on the other. Some members are fully compliant, others are lagging.
    – Gayot Fow
    May 26, 2016 at 10:51

As of December 2015, there isn't even any Schengen-wide record of entries and exits for visa holders, let alone EU citizens or visa-exempt third-country nationals. For EU citizens, Schengen rules do not mandate any record or even anything else than a manual document check (by contrast, third-country nationals details should be checked against lists of banned or wanted persons). Some countries strive for 100% database look-up even for people travelling on an EU passport (especially against lists of stolen or invalid documents) but that is not mandatory either.

Depending on the country, comings and goings can therefore be recorded based on airlines records or a scan at the border but that information is presently not shared or consolidated. As GayotFow already explained, this is slated to change but that's still an ongoing process.

Anecdotally, it's been a few years since the last time I travelled outside the Schengen area through a land border but my personal experience is that it was still possible to enter the Schengen area based on a cursory visual inspection of your ID, which would not be recorded anywhere.

  • 1
    I had a cursory visual of my ID card when traveled to Greece on a plane from the UK. It was so fast she probably only saw it was an ID card and waved me through. Funnily enough, the same lady examined my ID card when I was leaving Greece and that was a more thorough examination! (still only visual though)
    – kiradotee
    Jan 20, 2019 at 0:27

If they do, at least they don't do it consistently and systematically.

I had a non-RFID EU passport until a few months ago -- whenever I crossed the external Schengen borders, the border guards would glance at the ID page and wave me through, not spending enough time to write down anything, nor scan the machine-readable zone with a device that could do any logging.

It's technologically conceivable that information from RFID passports is being logged, but I doubt it.

(And certainly the border guard manning the exit booth at a German airport wouldn't know that the Dutch national in your scenario was going to such-and-such Asian country specifically).

  • 1
    I concur. French police checks at the borders (both in and out) vary from actually reading the ID card/passport with their scanner and/or entering details into their computer to just having a quick look.
    – jcaron
    Dec 29, 2015 at 13:04

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