From time to time I travel from Turkey to the Schengen countries (Germany, Netherlands, Italy etc.). Not all the time, but sometimes I see that our passports are controlled one more time as soon as we get off the plane. This practice was the same even 4-5 years ago.

I wonder the point of the additional control.
Since it is done more careless than the regular passport control, what is the benefit of it?

  • 4
    Where exactly does this extra check take place?
    – Crazydre
    Commented Aug 1, 2017 at 10:29
  • 4
    @ahmedus Probably they're looking for someone they suspect is on that plane. Not an actual border check
    – Crazydre
    Commented Aug 1, 2017 at 10:53
  • 2
    @Crazydre That's probably the case - I've flown into AMS from Kenya and had my passport checked when deboarding the aircraft, and someone was taken away by two police officers in the queue next to ours.
    – user29788
    Commented Aug 1, 2017 at 11:19
  • 2
    There are countries, citizens of those are required to have the transit visa, even if they do not leave the transit zone. They simply search for such cases.
    – VMAtm
    Commented Aug 1, 2017 at 11:36
  • 3
    @VMAtm Could be too, but not necessarily.
    – Crazydre
    Commented Aug 1, 2017 at 11:48

2 Answers 2


I have had that happen to me once at Schiphol, coming from Hong Kong (haven't noticed any special attention coming from Turkey earlier this year). I don't have any direct evidence that it is the only reason but I do have an explanation. The thing is that ditching your passport is not unheard of as a strategy to make yourself more difficult to remove and pretending to have another citizenship can even give you a fighting chance at getting into the asylum system without being a bona fide refugee (protection officers are not dumb and language and other details can betray you but I have personally encountered people who did this, successfully or not).

Removing someone who does not have a passport typically requires the cooperation of the country of origin and that country must be deemed safe. So if you manage to pass yourself as coming from an uncooperative or dangerous country, you might be able to fend off a quick removal process and hope to ride out detention or find some way to remain in the country legally or illegally. By contrast, if you are refused entry with a passport in hand, you will probably never leave the airport grounds and can be sent back in a matter of days, if not hours (in the EU, you have a right to appeal the decision to refuse entry and can also try to apply for asylum, but there are expedited procedures for blatantly unfounded applications and/or appeals).

By checking people's passports straight out of the airplane, you know where each traveller comes from and it's therefore easier to send them back and to know which airline to hold responsible, if it turns out that a passenger doesn't have the necessary visa (including a transit visa) or tries something like lying about where they come from. This becomes much more difficult once the passengers mix with each other in the arrival hall before approaching the main passport control area. Some countries are also thinking about using cameras for the same purpose (i.e. matching an uncooperative person to an incoming flight and, implicitly, country of origin).

Also, as noted in several comments, citizens from some countries (not Hong Kong or Turkey, though) require a visa even if they only want to transit in the Schengen area (or some specific countries in the Schengen area). This obligation is mostly meant to be enforced by airlines but double-checking might be a way to put pressure on them to check their passengers properly.

Finally, both Germany and the Netherlands are known to require “Advanced Passenger Information” for incoming flights so the police might have a “hit” for one of the names on the flight manifest and be looking for a specific person (could be someone with an open warrant but there are also alerts for missing persons, etc.).

  • indeed. There have in the past (and possibly still are) been NGOs that have people at Schiphol instructing new arrivals on flights from places likely to have economic migrants on them how to make themselves look like refugees and to throw away their passports to make it impossible to deport them.
    – jwenting
    Commented Aug 3, 2017 at 5:59
  • By the way, this practice isn't restricted to Schengen. I have had cursory passport checks on departure at the airbidge in the US; and once strangely - on arrival in Dubai (at that time, they were looking for a specific individual). I say strangely because having grown up in the Middle East and having traveled frequently through Dubai, this was the first time I had ever encountered this issue - the flight, by the way, was from Malaysia. Commented Aug 3, 2017 at 6:26

As been said in comments, there are at least two reasons to do such additional checks right after the plane landed:

  • search for the criminals (it can be either a concrete person or a general check for unusual behavior)
  • check for those nationalities, citizens of which need a transit visa even if they do not go outside the transit zone.

I've met such check in FRA, and asked about the reason, and they explained about the transit rules. I've shown them tockets and visas, and that was ok. I wouldn't say that that check was less strict comparing to general check on border, it just being done without background checks in security databases.

  • 2
    The second part makes less sense than it would seem, for the main purpose of transit visas is to prevent people from even making it to the transit airport in the first place. At that point, it doesn't really matter whether they have a transit visa anymore (they can legally apply for asylum there and then, which is what the whole system is designed to prevent).
    – Relaxed
    Commented Aug 1, 2017 at 13:05
  • @Relaxed but maybe they do random checks of transit passengers do they can fine the airlines for failing to enforce the requirement.
    – phoog
    Commented Aug 1, 2017 at 14:25
  • @phoog Yes, probably, I was also thinking about that, will add it to my answer.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Aug 1, 2017 at 15:16

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