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Greece and Schengen / Customs issues

If I leave Greece for a Schengen destination, do I need to use a port of entry (pass through passport formalities) to do so? I have always flown from an airport with passport control to the same when arriving to/departing from Greece. As a pilot, I have treated Greece as a non-Schengen country.
So I have 2 questions:
1) do I need to go through passport control when Departing a Schengen country for destination Greece? (I understand I need a port of entry to arrive)
2)I assume that when I leave Greece in my plane, I need to leave via a port of entry, even if my destination is Schengen. BUT do I need to land at a port of entry in the Schengen country I am flying to?

For example, could I fly from a grass airfield in Italy to a Greek port of entry? Could I leave Greece and fly directly to that grass field on the return flight?

Last Edited by WhiskeyPapa at 04 Aug 19:52
Tököl LHTL

Yes.

Greek authority ends on the FIR border. What happens beyond that is not in their hands. And Italy correctly applies the Schengen/EU mechanisms.

Mainz (EDFZ) & Egelsbach (EDFE), Germany

If I leave Greece for a Schengen destination, do I need to use a port of entry (pass through passport formalities) to do so?

You need to depart from a Greek port of entry. Greece signed Schengen but disregards it.

do I need to go through passport control when Departing a Schengen country for destination Greece?

No, because Greece is a Schengen country

BUT do I need to land at a port of entry in the Schengen country I am flying to?

No; see above.

could I fly from a grass airfield in Italy to a Greek port of entry? Could I leave Greece and fly directly to that grass field on the return flight?

Yes and yes.

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

I am not trying to excuse my country but we must keep in mind that even though it is not a Schengen but a national Customs law that enforces this practice, the main reason behind it is that Greece has a very short sea border at various places with its eastern neighbor, where EU actually ends.

More on how its applied in Greece can be found in www.aopa.gr/Info paragraph 13.

Especially with the current influx of immigrants/refugees trying to flee in to Europe I don’t see this attitude changing.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Refugees_of_the_Syrian_Civil_War

Greece – Greece welcomes refugees when in transit to Germany to apply for refugee status. In 2015, there were 385,525 arrivals by sea. It is estimated that only 8% of arrivals (31,000 Syrian refugees) applied for asylum in Greece, as most are in transit further into Europe. 15,000–17,000 refugees had landed on Lesbos island by September 2015, overwhelming the resources and generosity of local residents. Many refugees also make landfall at Agathonisi, Farmakonisi, Kos, Lemnos, Leros, Rhodes, Chios, Samos, Symi, Kastellorizo and other islands near Turkey. Some arrive via the Evros border crossing from Turkey. On 19 February 2016 Austria imposed restrictions on the number of refugees entering the country followed by Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and Macedonia, of just 580 arrivals a day. As a result, large numbers of Syrian refugees and migrants from other countries are stuck in Greece. On 22 February 2016 at an emergency summit on the migrant crisis in Brussels it was agreed that another 100,000 spaces in refugee reception centres will be created. There was also 50,000 spaces in Greece and another 50,000 spaces in Balkan countries created. Given that 2 – 3,000 migrants arrive in Greece every day, these 100,000 spaces look inadequate.

On 18 June 2016, UN chief Ban Ki-moon has praised Greece for showing “remarkable solidarity and compassion” towards refugees and he also called for international support.

After the 2016 Turkish coup d’état attempt in July 2016, Greek authorities on a number of Aegean Islands have called for emergency measures to curtail a growing flow of refugees from Turkey, the number of migrants and refugees willing to make the journey across the Aegean has increased noticeably. At Athens officials voiced worries that Turkish monitors overseeing the deal in Greece had been abruptly pulled out after the failed coup with little sign of them being replaced. The Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE) warned about the prospect of another flare-up in the refugee/migrant crisis due to the Turkish political instability.

LGMG Megara, Greece

From a legal perspective, shouldn’t the Schengen treaty (as part of EU law) trump the individual countries’ AIPs anyways? What actually happens if you just fly to a random non-port of entry Greek airport? In short term you have the trouble but can’t you get back at them for violating EU law?

Low-hours pilot
EDVM Hildesheim, Germany

MedEwok wrote:

What actually happens if you just fly to a random non-port of entry Greek airport? In short term you have the trouble but can’t you get back at them for violating EU law?

The one bit which is kind of difficult to deal with is that if you just land someplace that according to them you shouldn’t then they can and will take your airplane until you have satisfied whatever sanctions they think up. If now you start a legal battle you might well have a chance to win eventually but what remains of your airplane after 10 years under custom impound will make it a rather bitter victory.

Apart, it is not about Schengen in Greece. They insist that you need a port of entry for customs. So the idea that they disregard Schengen is actually not quite true, but they apparently have a rule whereby any vessel or airplane which enters the country must pass customs control. So the violation will be customs. And that tends to be costly. VERY costly. Not only in Greece.

LSZH(work) LSZF (GA base), Switzerland

MedEwok wrote:

What actually happens if you just fly to a random non-port of entry Greek airport?

Nothing happens. In November I flew EPPO-LGNX-EPPO for a few days with my family. No problems of any kind.

Another experience I had was flying from Egypt to Mykonos. No one even bothered to check my ID.

Of course this is not advice. I just found out about this limitation now. Hope they don’t take my plane! :))

LPFR, Poland

Mykonos LGMK is a port of entry. Lots of scheduled international flights.

Naxos LGNX is more interesting

My understanding is that Greece disregards Schengen for vehicles. So if you could swim from Italy to Corfu, that would be OK Greece has no Schengen borders so walking is not possible.

I checked this out a while ago. There have been examples where people did it and ATC got very upset but nothing else happened.

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Peter wrote:

Mykonos LGMK is a port of entry.

Yes. I wanted to say that they skipped passport control to show how relaxed some places can be.

LPFR, Poland

loco wrote:

Yes. I wanted to say that they skipped passport control to show how relaxed some places can be.

Sometimes if they see (from the handler notifying them) European aircraft with European nationals they don’t bother checking even if you come from outside EU.
Other times it just happens that they are quite busy with airline passengers and they just say to the handler “skip us”.

Customs (because its a customs check not a passport check) work on a “spot check” style, not an “everyone must pass from us”.
So in some airports where they are really calm they may ask to see you, on other airports if they are busy they may skip you after checking nationalities and aircraft register before you arrive.

The pissing part is that in airports where/when they were NOT scheduled to be there (no scheduled airline that time) and you happen to arrive/depart at this time, then they do turn up (on obligatory handlers’ notice) at the building because they have to “be there” by the law. To do this you (we) pay their fees (transport/service fees is the excuse) via the handler EVEN if they will not talk to you/meet you in person.
Some times they see you from distance (apron), say to the handler “don’t bother” and off they go back to their main customs office in main town while the fee was just charged to you.

Don’t think they too are in the mood to come to the airport for a “little” aircraft. They are obliged to be there.

Last Edited by petakas at 07 Aug 07:32
LGMG Megara, Greece
52 Posts
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