Danish police complain of ‘misinterpretation’ of EU travel rules

The South Jutland police have voiced their concern at what they believe is a widespread misunderstanding of Schengen travel rules. Travellers often become angry at the Danish-German border having to show their passports, they claim.

Danish police complain of 'misinterpretation' of EU travel rules
Drivers cross the border between Flensburg, Germany, and Denmark. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Gregor Fischer

According to the police force, some travellers have even refused to show their passports when asked. 

Residents of Denmark can generally travel freely between countries within the EU and Schengen. 

This means that the majority of people don’t have to wait in line at the individual border crossings to present their passport.

However, police may do a spot-check and could ask to see travellers’ passports. 

READ ALSO: UPDATE: What you need to know about Denmark’s latest travel rules

“Unfortunately, our staff at the border occasionally experience that people entering Denmark do not want to show their passports or are angry at the staff that they are asked to show passports,” the South Jutland Police wrote on Twitter.

“Citizens believe that when you travel within the EU or countries covered by the Schengen cooperation, you do not need to present a passport – but that is a misinterpretation of the rules.”

Passports required outside the Nordic region

People with Danish passports must have those with them when travelling outside the Nordic region, and must present it if they are asked to do so by the police.

This also applies in the countries of Europe that are part of the Schengen area, which includes 26 countries in total – 22 of which are in the European Union.

As a rule, there are no border controls between the individual Schengen countries, but there is a possibility that the police will make random checks.

READ ALSO: EU Covid certificate: What are the different entry rules in place around Europe?

Danish citizens do not have to bring their passport with them to travel to the Nordic countries of Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland, but must be able to identify themselves with another form of photo identification.

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Could Oslo-Copenhagen overnight train be set for return?

A direct overnight rail service between the Norwegian and Danish capitals has not operated since 2001, but authorities in Oslo are considering its return.

Norway’s transport minister Knut Arild Hareide has asked the country’s railway authority Jernbanedirektoratet to investigate the options for opening a night rail connection between Oslo and Copenhagen.

An answer is expected by November 1st, after which the Norwegian government will decide whether to go forward with the proposal to directly link the two Nordic capitals by rail.

Jernbanedirektoratet is expected to assess a timeline for introducing the service along with costs, market and potential conflicts with other commercial services covering the route.

“I hope we’ll secure a deal. Cross-border trains are exciting, including taking a train to Malmö, Copenhagen and onwards to Europe,” Hareide told Norwegian broadcaster NRK.

The minister said he envisaged either a state-funded project or a competition awarding a contract for the route’s operation to the best bidder.

A future Oslo-Copenhagen night train rests on the forthcoming Jernbanedirektoratet report and its chances of becoming a reality are therefore unclear. But the Norwegian rail authority earlier this year published a separate report on ways in which passenger train service options from Norway to Denmark via Sweden can be improved.

“We see an increasing interest in travelling out of Norway by train,” Jernbanedirektoratet project manager  Hanne Juul said in a statement when the report was published in January.

“A customer study confirmed this impression and we therefore wish to make it simpler to take the train to destinations abroad,” Juul added.

Participants in the study said that lower prices, fewer connections and better information were among the factors that would encourage them to choose the train for a journey abroad.

Norway’s rail authority also concluded that better international cooperation would optimise cross-border rail journeys, for example by making journey and departure times fit together more efficiently.

The Femahrn connection between Denmark and Germany, currently under construction, was cited as a factor which could also boost the potential for an overland rail connection from Norway to mainland Europe.

Night trains connected Oslo to Europe via Copenhagen with several departures daily as recently as the late 1990s, but the last such night train between the two cities ran in 2001 amid dwindling demand.

That trend has begun to reverse in recent years due in part to an increasing desire among travellers to select a greener option for their journey than flying.

Earlier this summer, a new overnight train from Stockholm to Berlin began operating. That service can be boarded by Danish passengers at Høje Taastrup near Copenhagen.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about the new night train from Copenhagen to Germany