March 31, 2008
The EU has abolished the last routine passport controls at borders within the 24 European states, simplifying plane travel within the Schengen zone.
Plane travel within the European Union just got easier. On flights and boat travel between 24 European states, memberse of Schengen-zone countries will no longer be asked to show their passports at control stops.
Passport controls at airports between the 15 old Schengen-accord countries and the nine, recently added Schengen countries of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary and Malta, were dropped on Sunday night, March 30.
Travel by land and sea between those countries has been passport-free since Dec. 20, 2007.
Now, European passport controllers will only check the documents of those who are entering or departing from countries outside the Schengen zone.
The wider Schengen area includes all 27 EU countries except Great Britain, Ireland, Bulgaria, Romania and Cyprus. Non-EU countries Norway and Iceland are also members.
Security checks still in place
The new regulations mean air passengers must be strictly divided according to destination, which requires using different air terminals. Therefore, the end of controls is concurrent with new flight plans being put into effect in Europe.
However, pre-boarding security checks will continue, the EU’s Slovenian presidency said. This means travelers still need to have their passports or other official forms of identification with them.
DW staff (jen)
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