Schengen/Customs

Discussion in 'Newbies' started by guberif, Mar 9, 2013.  |  Print Topic

  1. guberif

    guberif Silver Member

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    I'm not a newbie, but I have a newb question :D I am flying LH J on DEN-FRA-WAW in a few weeks. When I arrive in FRA, will I have to clear customs, or will that wait until WAW? My guess is FRA, but I'm not sure about my luggage.

    I have about a 6 hour layover, so assuming I'm unable to upgrade to LH F at T-2 weeks, we might go in to Frankfurt for a few hours.

    Thanks!
     
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  2. Fredrik
    Original Member

    Fredrik Silver Member

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    You clear immigration at FRA but customs at WAW.
     
  3. guberif

    guberif Silver Member

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    So if I wanted to go to the city (or the FCT :)), I'd just have to re-clear security?
     
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  4. rwoman
    Original Member

    rwoman Gold Member

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    Correct.
     
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  5. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    This is strictly correct if the luggage will be checked all the way to WAW, which I am not sure will be the case, since FRA will be the OP's 'port of entry' into the Schengen Treaty area. Another possibility is that the OP will clear both immigration and customs in FRA, but will not have to either a second time in WAW...it is the whole idea behind the Schengen visa: clear once, travel freely to any country within the area.
     
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  6. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    The bags will be checked to WAW (unless the OP insists on short-checking them). The customs officers in WAW will know that they originated outside the Schengen zone because the bag tags won't have the green stripes that bags from within the Schengen zone have. Even without checked bags (and thus no green stripes to look for) the customs officers might ask in WAW where the OP originated.

    Immigration will be in FRA, first port of entry.
     
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  7. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    That is the difference. I was on my way to PRG, out of IAD on UA, changing to LH at FRA. Maybe I could have requested to have the bag checked to PRG, but I had not and had to retrieve it in FRA, where I cleared both immigration and customs. When I arrived in PRG, it was like a domestic flight; I just picked up my bag without needing to clear immigration or customs a second time.
     
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  8. Counsellor
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    Counsellor Gold Member

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    The way WAW is set up, all flights (even those originating within Schengen) exit baggage through the customs line. However, if your bag tag has the green stripe (EU-origination), they don't bother you.

    Schengen is an immigration-free zone; EU is a customs-free zone. Much overlap but not 100%.
     
  9. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    I believe we did establish this once before in this thread, with a map that shows the overlap between the EU and the Schengen Treaty zone. WAW is in both (Poland joined EU in 2004).
     
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  10. Counsellor
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    Counsellor Gold Member

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    Yes, and they joined Schengen in 2007, as I recall.

    I just wanted to clarify that Schengen lets people travel freely, while EU lets goods (like luggage) travel freely.

    Or, to put it another way, one clears customs and immigration separately, immigration when you enter the Schengen Zone, and customs when your luggage enters the EU zone. If one is a transit passenger (e.g., IAD - [FRA] - WAW) and changing planes in Frankfurt, you'll enter the Schengen zone in order to change planes and go through immigration at that time, but your luggage should be tagged on through (even though it also changes planes), and will go through customs at your destination, Warsaw.
     
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  11. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    You have said this many times, including in another thread, so let us get this story straight once for all because your statements are not strictly true. With all but four of the 26 members of the Schengen countries being part of the EU, and just a couple more not even being in EU (e.g., Denmark), there is free movement of both people and goods within the Schengen area, for all practical purposes and according to the EU laws. Customs checks, like passport checks, are very infrequent and random. In 2011, Denmark tried to reinstate customs control as the MO for Schengen area but failed. The trend has been toward complete elimination of customs control in the area and it won't be too much longer before it happens. So that we will be clear, I will post key grafs from Wikipedia and elsewhere:
    Now back to the issue at hand. You wrote:
    With the preceding background on the movement of people and goods within the Schengen area in mind, let me repeat what I said: One must remember to check the bag all the way to the final destination because it is not automatic in some cases (e.g., when there are two different PNRs and there is change of carrier to a regional route, which is often cheaper). In that case, unless the bag is checked to the final destination, both passport and customs controls will occur at the point of arival, but none would be done subsequently. An example would be: IAD-FRA on UA (1st PNR)- stop in FRA- change carrier to LH to take an intra-EU route to WAW (2nd PNR). You will need to remember to check the luggage to WAW or it will get left in FRA, unless you pick it up yourself, go through customs and recheck it. My trip a couple of years ago to PRG was an example, and it almost happened to me again very recently to do CSX -> HKG on CX, changing to UA to do HKG-> SGN. With different PNRs, my luggage would have been checked to HKG, but then the nice CX agent told me that she could check it for me all the way to SGN, after I mentioned my connecting flight.

    The dogmatic or categorical statements about the movement of persons and goods in the Schengen area are not warranted, me thinks...
     
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  12. Counsellor
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    Counsellor Gold Member

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    For practical purposes, you're probably correct -- generally at least.

    But I'm a lawyer by trade, and travel in Europe a lot, including from e.g., Germany, which is both Schengen and EU to Norway, which is Schengen but not EU, and in the mid-2000s to the Czech Republic and Poland which were at the time EU but not Schengen, as Romania and Bulgaria are right now (and I travel to them as well). When you couple that with flights to Europe from the US through London (the UK being EU but not Schengen) and transits from Western Europe to Romania and Bulgaria (and Turkey, neither Schengen nor EU) through Switzerland (Schengen but not EU), it is very important to me to be very aware of the differences between the Schengen Area and the EU, both as to immigration (passport) and as to customs (luggage).

    So both professionally (as a lawyer) and personally (as a frequent traveler in the geographic area in question) it is critical to me on a day-to-day basis (or more precisely, on a trip-to-trip basis) to be precise rather than general.

    Being precise can often appear to be indistinguishable from being picky (or dogmatic), so I apologize if I seemed to be unnecessarily argumentative. :)
     
  13. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    Point taken and understood quite well, but your legal mind might tend to see things in starker/daker contrast than exist in reality. As documented, customs control is rarely unforced once one has been admitted into the Schegen area. The case of Denmark, a non-EU but Schengen area country that wanted customs control in place but was rebuffed, is quite telling of the general mindset, I think: to enforce customs control would be like having passport/immigration control all over again, restricting the free movement of people, which is precisely what the treaty was supposed to eliminate.

    BTW, I have one of the original Schengen visas from 1992 in one of my passports... when it had been implemented only among a small number of countries. So, I too do have a history with the treaty ;)
     

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