Why isn’t my passport always checked at Schiphol?

You’re flying to Barcelona. You check in, go through the security check with your hand baggage, have a cup of coffee and, before you know it, you’re on the plane. But hang on a minute… you didn’t pass through passport control. Surely that can’t be right, can it?

Schengen countries

It can! Many European countries (26 to be precise) have made agreements with each other to make travelling across borders easier. These are the Schengen countries and you can travel to them freely without having to be checked at the border by the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee. So, just like you can drive your car across the border to Germany, you can also board the plane to Germany without going through passport control.

Travellers kept separate

Travellers flying to Schengen countries do not end up in the same part of the airport as travellers going to non-Schengen countries. Otherwise, how would we know which passports to check? The entire airport is therefore geared towards Schengen and non-Schengen flights. All travellers in Departure Hall 1 and Lounge 1 are headed for Schengen countries. Travellers flying outside the Schengen Zone leave from Departure Halls and Lounges 2 and 3. If you want to go from Lounge 1 to Lounge 2 (for example, if you are transferring from a Schengen flight to a non-Schengen flight), you will also have to go through passport control again.

Is that safe?

We are often asked if it’s safe for passports not to be checked. Safety is always top priority at Schiphol. That’s why travellers, irrespective of their destination, have to go through security to check that they don’t have any prohibited items with them. In addition, at check-in or during boarding, airlines check whether the person boarding the plane is also the person for whom the ticket was booked.

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