Juxtaposed controls (in French: bureaux à contrôles nationaux juxtaposés, or "BCNJ"; in Dutch: kantoren waar de nationale controles van beide landen naast elkaar geschieden) are an arrangement between Belgium, France, and the United Kingdom whereby border control on certain cross-Channel routes take place before boarding the train or ferry, rather than upon arrival after disembarkation. With the exception of the Eurotunnel route, customs checks remain unaffected by juxtaposed immigration controls and continue to take place upon arrival after disembarkation.
History and perspective
While the juxtaposed controls existed previously, Brexit in 2019 is expected to require an increase at border control. For this reason, it is expected that the UK will have to contribute more to the border. The view of Brexiteer Iain Duncan Smith is that "There is no logical or legal reason why Britain should pay anything towards this. It is an absurdity.".
From France's point of view, the border between France and the UK will be more expensive than the border between Ireland and the UK.
From Hauts-de-France region president Xavier Bertrand, the Traité de Sandhurst is nothing new (Il n'y a rien de nouveau): The British will continue issuing checks that will just compensate a grand total's fraction.
In 1991, the Sangatte Protocol was signed between France and the UK, an agreement that provided for border checkpoints to be set up by France at Cheriton in Kent and for border checkpoints to be set up by the UK at Coquelles in France. The Protocol was brought into effect for the UK by the Channel Tunnel (International Arrangements) Order 1993, and for France by Presidential Decree. The Protocol is more formally known as the Protocol between the government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the government of the French Republic concerning frontier controls and policing, co-operation in criminal justice, public safety and mutual assistance relating to the Channel fixed link.
As a result of the agreement, starting from 1994, when travelling from the UK to France by Eurotunnel (road vehicle trains), French immigration and customs checks both take place before departure from Cheriton, rather than on arrival in France. When travelling from France to the UK by Eurotunnel, travellers have to clear both French exit checks and UK immigration and customs checks in Coquelles before boarding the train.
Unlike the juxtaposed controls for the Eurostar and ferry which only consist of immigration pre-embarkation checks, juxtaposed controls for the Eurotunnel consist of both immigration and customs pre-embarkation checks.
In 2002–2003, at the UK immigration checkpoint at Coquelles in France, 2,232 people were refused entry into the UK.
On 29 May 2000, the 'Additional Protocol to the Sangatte Protocol' was signed between France and the UK, an agreement that provided for immigration checkpoints to be set up by France in Eurostar stations in the UK and for immigration checkpoints to be set up by the UK in Eurostar stations in France. The UK was eager to conclude the agreement with France because, for several years, many Eurostar passengers arrived in the UK without adequate documentation and a significant number claimed asylum on arrival. As illustration, in the second half of 2000, around 4,000 passengers arrived at London Waterloo without the correct documentation. Furthermore, under French law, there was no liability for SNCF, the French railway company, to check the travel documents of Eurostar passengers (in fact, it was illegal under French law for SNCF to carry out documentation checks), which meant that the Eurostar was an easier way for illegal immigrants to travel from France to the UK than other means of transport (for example, in contrast, an airline carrier would be fined a £2,000 penalty for every passenger without adequate documentation who is brought to the UK, which encouraged airlines to check the travel documents of passengers more carefully).
In July 2004, after a tripartite agreement was signed by Belgium, France and the UK, UK pre-embarkation immigration checkpoints were also established at Brussels Midi station.
As a result of the agreements, when travelling from the UK to Belgium or France by Eurostar, immigration entry checks into the Schengen Area take place before boarding the train in the UK, rather than on arrival in Belgium or France. The immigration entry checks are carried out in the UK stations before embarkation by the French Border Police (which also carries out immigration entry checks on behalf of the Belgian Federal Police for passengers travelling to Belgium). When travelling from Belgium or France to the UK by Eurostar (except on the lines from Marseille and Marne la Vallée-Chessy, see below), passengers clear immigration exit checks from the Schengen Area, as well as UK immigration entry checks, before boarding the train.
Customs checks on Eurostar passengers remain unaffected by the agreements, and continue to take place upon arrival after leaving the train.
Between 2002 and 2003, 2,442 passengers were refused entry into the UK at the UK immigration checkpoints in Paris Gare du Nord and Lille Europe stations on the basis that they had inadequate documentation. At Gare de Calais-Fréthun, 56 passengers were refused entry into the UK at the UK immigration checkpoint there.
Northbound passengers on the Marseille line disembark with their luggage in Lille, go through passport and security checks and re-board the train, as Marseille Saint-Charles, Avignon TGV and Lyon Part-Dieu do not have the space or resources to set up immigration posts there (although the previous service from Avignon Centre did have them).
Northbound passengers from Marne la Vallée-Chessy clear French immigration at Marne la Vallée-Chessy, and then UK immigration at the UK arrival stations.
List of rail border controls
- In Belgium
- In France
- Eurotunnel Calais Terminal at Coquelles
- Lille Europe
- Paris Nord
- In the UK
- Eurotunnel Folkestone Terminal
- Ashford International
- Ebbsfleet International
- St Pancras International
On 4 February 2003, France and the UK concluded the Treaty of Le Touquet (formally known as the Treaty between the Government of the United Kingdom and the Government of the French Republic concerning the implementation of frontier controls at sea ports of both countries on the Channel and North Sea). This agreement provided for juxtaposed controls on a number of cross-Channel ferry routes. The Treaty was subsequently put into effect in the UK by the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 (Juxtaposed Controls) Order 2003, under the authority of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002.
France has established immigration checkpoints at Port of Dover, where the French Border Police carries out immigration entry checks into the Schengen Area on passengers travelling to Calais or Dunkirk.
At present, the UK has immigration checkpoints at the ports of Calais and Dunkirk (previously, the UK also had an immigration checkpoint at the port of Boulogne-sur-Mer). At Calais and Dunkirk, passengers go through French exit checks as well as UK immigration entry checks before embarkation.
Customs checks on ferry passengers remain unaffected by the Treaty and continue to take place upon arrival after leaving the ferry. Therefore, when travelling from France to Dover, although ferry passengers have already gone through immigration checks before departure, when they arrive in the UK, they might still be stopped by customs officers for a customs inspection. Similarly, when travelling from Dover to France, although ferry passengers have already been through immigration checks by the French Border Police at Dover, they might still be subject to a customs check by French Customs on arrival in France.
Between 2003 and 2007, 10,766 people were refused entry into the UK by UK immigration officers stationed in Calais.
Both British law and the Schengen convention require airlines to perform checks before boarding that passengers have the right to enter the destination country. These are not formal border controls, but checks that the airlines are required to perform. Border controls still take place at the arrival airport.
Juxtaposed controls at other borders
Apart from the borders along the English Channel, juxtaposed border controls or similar arrangements exist on many other places.
- United States border preclearance (a similar arrangement whereby the US carries out pre-embarkation immigration checks at some airports and border crossing points in Canada, the Caribbean, Ireland, and the United Arab Emirates)
- Shenzhen Bay Control Point (a similar arrangement whereby Hong Kong carries out immigration checks at the border crossing point geographically in the mainland, but the area is designated as if it is part of Hong Kong and Hong Kong law fully applies)
- West Kowloon railway station control point (bill introduced to the Legislative Council of Hong Kong in early 2018, passed on 14 June 2018 )
- Woodlands Train Checkpoint (a similar arrangement where passengers undergo Malaysian entry formalities at the station, despite it being located in Singaporean territory)
- Padang Besar railway station in Padang Besar, Malaysia which houses CIQ facilities for both Malaysia and Thailand despite being wholly within Malaysia territory.
Pair of passport stamps (exit France, entry into the United Kingdom) at the juxtaposed border control at Paris Gare du Nord.
China exit stamp applied at the West Kowloon railway station Mainland Port Area within Hong Kong territory.
China entry stamp applied at the West Kowloon railway station.
Entry slip issued by China for entry into the mainland at West Kowloon railway station.
- Eurostar launches London-Amsterdam route
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