A border checkpoint is a place, generally between two countries, where travellers or goods are inspected. Authorization often is required to enter a country through its borders. Access-controlled borders often have a limited number of checkpoints where they can be crossed without legal sanctions. Arrangements may be formed to allow or mandate less restrained crossings (e.g. Schengen Agreement). Land border checkpoints (land ports of entry) can be contrasted with the customs and immigration facilities at seaports, international airports, and other ports of entry.
Checkpoints generally serve two purposes:
- To prevent entrance of individuals who are either undesirable (e.g., criminals or others who pose threats) or are simply unauthorized to enter.
- To prevent entrance of goods that are illegal, subject to restriction or to collect tariffs.
In some countries (e.g. China, Japan), there are border checkpoints when both entering and exiting the country; while in others (e.g. U.S., Canada), there are border checkpoints only when entering the country. (There are also United States Border Patrol interior checkpoints.)
Definitions in European Union (Schengen) law
The Schengen Borders Code, which forms part of the law of the European Union, defines some terms as follows (particularities with respect to the EU are left out, in order to emphasize general usability of those definitions):
- "Border crossing point" means any crossing point authorized by the competent authorities for the crossing of external borders (Article 2 sec. 8 of the Schengen Borders Code);
- "Border control" means the activity carried out at a border, [...] in response exclusively to an intention to cross or the act of crossing that border, regardless of any other consideration, consisting of border checks and border surveillance (Article 2 sec. 9 of the Schengen Borders Code);
- "Border checks" means the checks carried out at border crossing points, to ensure that persons, including their means of transport and the objects in their possession, may be authorised to enter the territory [...] or authorised to leave it (Article 2 sec. 10 of the Schengen Borders Code);
- "Border surveillance" means the surveillance of borders between border crossing points and the surveillance of border crossing points outside the fixed opening hours, in order to prevent persons from circumventing border checks (Article 2 sec. 10 of the Schengen Borders Code).
United States–Mexico border checkpoint at Nogales, Arizona.
Nekhoteevka customs on Russia-Ukraine border.
- "Regulation (EC) No 562/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 March 2006 establishing a Community Code on the rules governing the movement of persons across borders (Schengen Borders Code)" (in English). 2006-04-13. Retrieved 2007-11-25.
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