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I regularly fly from Prague airport where there's a separate Schengen-only terminal (Terminal 2). The terminal is completely separated from foreign flights and on arrival there's no passport control: you pick up your bags and go.

However departing passengers are always checked by immigration, although they don't stamp passports. And I've seen the same configuration in other Schengen terminals, so I know it's not a Prague-only issue.

What's the rationale behind this? Note that I'm not asking about why airlines check IDs on Schengen flights, just why immigration is doing this.

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    It could possibly be a temporary control due to all of the refugees. – Michael Hampton May 14 '16 at 15:00
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    @MichaelHampton nope, been that way for years. – JonathanReez May 14 '16 at 15:23
  • Do they scan the passports digitally, or do they punch in your ID number in a computer? Do they do the same thing when one goes by car to Germany, etc? – Revetahw May 14 '16 at 16:30
  • They scan passports of non-EU citizens. The land borders are fully open, with not immigration checks. – JonathanReez May 14 '16 at 17:18
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    @BurhanKhalid at most airports passports are visually checked by the airport staff and the boarding card is scanned. At Prague Airport (and some other - Warsaw, I think?), both the boarding card and non-EU passports are scanned by immigration officials and sometimes people are even questioned about their stay. – JonathanReez May 15 '16 at 7:51
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+50

Since the Czech Republic's probationary days as an EU state (we're talking the very early 2000's here), the Prague Airport has been the site of numerous pilot tests sponsored by the EU. As a result, the airport has developed a favourable infrastructure for pilot tests.

A pilot test can be anything from a variation on the procedures or more often the introduction of proposed equipment/technology.

Further, the end-user demographics vis-a-vis airport size make it a great locale for training, and the airport hosts border guard trainees from other member states (as does Poland and various other EU members).

However departing passengers are always checked by immigration, although they don't stamp passports. And I've seen the same configuration in other Schengen terminals, so I know it's not a Prague-only issue.

It's not necessarily always... A given pilot test can run anywhere from a month up to 24 months and during that time the eagle-eyed traveller would expect to see slight variations.

What's the rationale behind this? Note that I'm not asking about why airlines check IDs on Schengen flights, just why immigration is doing this.

It's seemingly against the Freedom of Movement Directive to do this, but there are carve outs for the purposes I have described. As you pass through the control point you may notice variations in their uniforms (green shirts, blue shirts, and white shirts) along with differing insignia on their epaulets indicating if there are 'guest' border guards. And a closer look at the equipment they are using will give an indication of a piece of technology that the EU is considering.

Finally, there are currently 7 member states who have used Article 23 of the Borders Code to implement temporary border controls inside of the EU so far this year. They are Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, France, Germany, and Austria. The Czech Republic is not on this list (at the moment) so you would not expect to see special measures in effect for that reason.


Adding: personal note, I'm one of those people when the border officials are doing something unusual who says "why are you people doing this?". I have never done it in Prague, but do it lots of times entering/exiting the UK (or Russia or the US or etc). Sometimes you get incredibly helpful info, and sometimes you don't.

  • Where do you see a contradiction between border check and the Freedom of Movement Directive (just to be sure we are talking about the same thing, that's directive 2004/38/EC)? And what are you referring to as “carve outs” (which article/part of the directive)? I think this sentence should be edited out of your answer. – Relaxed Jun 12 '16 at 10:18
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As of 2016, the manned passport checks at Prague airport were replaced with boarding pass scanners. As a matter of fact, I didn't once have to show an ID flying PRG-BCN today.

Therefore the question is now moot.

-2

Free circulation of citizens within an area doesn't mean that you won't get checked anytime. Countries immigration and police staff can perform routine checks anytime at airport, in the street or wherever they want.

You are telling that this happened even before the refugee situation. I still believe the controls have been reinforced recently within EU because of this.

There could be few reasons for doing those checks indeed :

  • make statistics about people leaving the country
  • catch people with invalid IDs
  • catch people that could are being researched by police (maybe they won't take the risk to get controlled but you never know)
  • show the population that the police is doing his job :)
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    In my personal opinion this does not answer the question. While you note "Free circulation of citizens within an area doesn't mean that you won't get checked anytime.", the situation described by the OP, checking of all passengers at that terminal would be a violation of Schengen treaties. The rest of your answer is speculative and has no sources to show. I am therefore downvoting it as I do not find it useful and it should rather be a comment IMHO. I see you are new to Travel SE and please don't let that discourage you but rather to strive to always provide high-quality answers :) – mts Jun 7 '16 at 6:24
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    Thank you for your answer, however it doesn't answer the question of why there are systematic immigration controls by the police, which is normally prohibited. – JonathanReez Jun 7 '16 at 6:34
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    @Marmelada apologies for my earlier comment which is indeed harsh as I re-read it. I might be having a bad day and certainly other people on this forum are nicer so please continue to contribute, you would be a great addition. I did downvote this answer for the reasons stated above but I have worded that too frankly, so sorry, truly! I was hoping your answer could cite some sources, which tbh is a bit difficult in this case. Your other answer on Korean flight searches instead is great and just got +1 from me. – mts Jun 7 '16 at 16:18
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    @mts ok fair enough, that's fine :) – Marmelada Jun 7 '16 at 16:24
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    @Marmelada great, happy about that. Welcome to Travel SE! – mts Jun 7 '16 at 16:27

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