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I'm flying from Beirut to Stockholm via Frankfurt as a tourist. In Frankfurt I had to show my passport to immigration but when I got to Arlanda airport (Stockholm) I got my bags and left without passing through immigration. I just followed other passengers. Is that normal? Don't I have to check with customs? Not even check my bags?

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    Customs, or Immigration? You should've made your customs declaration in Stockholm by walking through the appropriate channel (red / green) – Gagravarr Aug 22 '16 at 12:14
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    Do you mean customs (checking what goods you are bringing); do you mean immigration (checking who you are and if you are allowed in); or do you mean "check in" (telling the airline you have arrived and are ready to travel, and handing over bags to go in the hold) – CMaster Aug 22 '16 at 12:14
  • I mean checking who I am. What should I do now? – Saleem Aug 22 '16 at 12:17
  • @Saleem I edited your question to what I think you were asking, Feel free to edit it again if I got it wrong. – CMaster Aug 22 '16 at 12:22
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    yep, that's Schengen for you! – njzk2 Aug 22 '16 at 15:00
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Customs and immigration are seperate. Immigration is about you, customs is about your stuff.

For countries in the Schengen area, Immigration is handled at your point of entry to the area. In your case that would be Frankfurt. The procedures will depend on your citizenship. Once in the area there will not normally be further immigration checks.

Customs on the other hand is NOT centralised. You normally go through customs at your final airport after baggage claim. Customs in the EU usually uses a Lanes system.

  • Blue lane: From inside EU with nothing to declare.
  • Green lane: From outside EU with Nothing to declare.
  • Red lane: Goods to declare.

Sometimes instead of the lanes there may be a red phone. Sometimes there may be no blue lane (in which case use the green one instead).

It is your responsibility to determine whether you have goods that need declaring. If in doubt you are supposed to take the Red lane (or use the red phone) and speak to a customs official. Entering without speaking to customs is legally considered to be a declaration that you have nothing to declare.

Random checks and intelligence driven checks are possible in the Green and Blue lanes.

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    (+1) Blue lanes are actually relatively rare (UK, Finland, maybe Ireland? certainly not in Germany, France, Spain...) That's not mandated by EU rules. – Relaxed Aug 22 '16 at 14:32
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    When I arrived at Arlanda recently there were green and blue signs next to each other but there was only a single wide corridor behind them. I think the "red lane" may have been just a Desk rather than a lane though i'm not 100% sure on that. Coming back to Manchester there were seperate green and blue lanes but the "red lane" definately looked like just a desk. I guess the actual layout depends on the number and mix of expected passengers. – Peter Green Aug 22 '16 at 14:51
  • Yes, that's definitely true, I have seen phones like that too. But whether it's a phone or an actual corridor, most countries only have red and green, no blue at all (I only ever entered Sweden by land, I did not know it was one of the countries with blue lanes). – Relaxed Aug 22 '16 at 16:21
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Yes it's normal. Sweden and Germany are both part of Schengen as well as the European Customs Union, so once you've cleared immigration in Frankfurt the last flight is kind of like a domestic one so you won't pass immigration again.

Note that customs isn't the same as immigration, so unless you have something to declare your customs check, which should be done in Sweden, is just walking down the 'nothing to declare' lane.

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    You will re-clear customs in Sweden too, you just won't re-clear immigration. However, the customs part (unless you're of interest) will just be what lane you exit through – Gagravarr Aug 22 '16 at 12:15
  • That's not quite correct, customs formalities have to be done in Sweden. – Relaxed Aug 22 '16 at 13:20
  • @Relaxed are you replying to me or Gagravarr ? I've flown a similar route to the OP and basically just walked out of the airport – blackbird Aug 22 '16 at 13:21
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    @blackbird No, you did not just "walk out", you went through a green customs lane. It might not feel like much but that's the customs formalities. In spite of the fact that both countries are indeed part of a customs unions, EU laws and practices are clear, that should happen in Stockholm, not Frankfurt. For example, Sweden (not Germany) would collect the VAT and duty on an expensive gift you are bringing with you. – Relaxed Aug 22 '16 at 13:48
  • By contrast, for most transfers in Frankfurt, you would not even walk through such a lane (it's located after the luggage claim area) nor indeed have your bag with you to show to a customs agent. – Relaxed Aug 22 '16 at 13:53
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Immigration formalities are done in Frankfurt (your point of entrance in the Schengen area). That's where you were admitted to the Schengen area, your passport stamped, etc. so it's perfectly normal not to undergo an immigration check in Stockholm. Even if the police in Sweden wants to see your passport (which might happen), this would not be an official "external" Schengen border check.

By contrast, customs formalities have to be completed in Stockholm. In continental Europe, you don't necessarily need to talk to anybody nor to fill a landing card or anything like that but walking down the green "nothing to declare" lane amounts to a declaration of sorts. It happens relatively rarely but it's also entirely possible for customs agents to stop you and/or ask to see the contents of your luggage at this point.

If you do have something to declare (perhaps you have a lot of cash with you or you are coming back from a trip with expensive goods), then you are supposed to go through the red lane, fill in the relevant forms and/or pay duties and taxes in Sweden.

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For border purposes, Germany and Sweden are in the same country, the Schengen Area (that's why they have a common visa, the Schengen visa). So you'll enter at Frankfurt and then continue on a "domestic" flight to Sweden.

There will be a customs corridor, but you can just walk down the green lane and you'll usually be out in 30 seconds

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    ...if you have nothing to declare, otherwise using the green lane is a serious offence. – Alexander Aug 23 '16 at 7:53

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