Nordic Passport Union
The Nordic Passport Union allows citizens of the Nordic countries — Denmark (Faroe Islands included), Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Iceland — to travel and reside in another Nordic country without any travel documentation (e.g. a passport or national identity card) or a residence permit. All Nordic countries have since 25 March 2001 also been within the Schengen Area; and Denmark, Finland and Sweden are also members of the European Union.
Essentially Nordic citizens are treated like local citizens in all these countries, at least for travel purposes. No identity documentation is formally needed in any Nordic country. However, identity documentation such as an ID card is still useful both in one's own country and in another Nordic country. Some companies require identity documents also for visitors for certain services, such as trains, airports, and age check for alcohol purchase. Then any valid Nordic identity card is accepted. For services aimed at residents, like banking, picking up postal packages or dealing with authorities, often only local identity cards are accepted. Similarly to the Nordic Passport Union, the Common Travel Area allows travel between Ireland and the United Kingdom without travel documentation, however may still require identity documentation.
The Nordic Passport Union was established in three stages. In 1952, the Nordic countries agreed to abolish passports for travel between them and to readmit non-Nordic citizens who had entered illegally into one Nordic country from another. In 1954, the agreement was extended to allow citizens to reside and work in any Nordic country without a residence or work permit. Passport checks for non-Nordic citizens at internal Nordic borders were removed by a treaty signed on 12 July 1957 and which came into force on 1 May 1958.
Nordic countries and Schengen
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In December 1996 the two non-EU member states Norway and Iceland signed an association agreement with the signatories of the Schengen Agreement to become part of the Schengen Area. While this agreement never came into force, both countries did become part of the Schengen Area after concluding similar agreements with the EU. The Schengen Convention itself was not open for signature by non-EU member states.
From 25 March 2001, the Schengen acquis applied to the five countries of the Nordic Passport Union (except for the Faroe Islands, which are outside the Schengen Area but are a part of the Nordic Passport Union). Border checkpoints have been removed within the Schengen Area, in addition to those that had been abolished previously within the Nordic Passport Union. In the case of the Faroe Islands, which are not part of the Schengen Area but remain part of the Nordic Area, the strict Schengen rules apply to travellers from the Faroe Islands into the Schengen Area, including the Nordic countries, but the Nordic rules allowing for an open border apply to those going the other way from the Nordic countries, but not necessarily from the other Schengen countries. However, citizens of the Nordic Passport Union countries enjoy extra rights within the Nordic area, not available under Schengen, such as less paperwork if moving to a different Nordic country, and fewer requirements for naturalization or citizenship. Within the Nordic area, any Nordic ID card (e.g. a driving license) is valid for Nordic citizens because of the Nordic Passport Union, while a national ID card or a passport is required in other Schengen countries. Most Scandinavian people do not own any Schengen approved national ID card, so they need a passport when visiting Schengen countries outside the Nordic area.
Before 2001, full customs checks were required for ferry travel when travelling from Denmark to other Nordic countries. There was no land border with Denmark before July 2000 when the Öresund Bridge was opened, which had relaxed customs check from the start. Nordic citizens did not need to be in possession of a passport, but a passport could be useful for those not natively speaking a Scandinavian language or people looking non-Nordic. Other citizens needed a passport. As a part of the customs check, at least when arriving from Denmark and non-Nordic countries, every car driver was asked about where they had been, and suspicious people were subject to further checks. For land and ferry travel into Denmark and between Sweden, Norway and Finland, there were much more relaxed customs and passport checks, and often no checks at all. For air travel, there were full passport and customs checks, even though verbally claiming Nordic citizenship with a Scandinavian language, plus showing the ticket for the intra-Nordic flight, or any Nordic ID card, was usually enough to pass the passport check. It happened that Nordic citizens without a passport were not allowed to pass until a thorough identity investigation had been made, usually for people looking non-Nordic. Passengers travelling by public transport, such as train or air, were usually not interviewed by the customs control.
From March 2001, the Schengen rules have given more relaxed customs checks from Denmark, including no passport checks at airports, since intra-Schengen travellers are separated from the travellers from outside the Schengen area.
In November 2015, Sweden introduced temporary border controls, and requirements for all international airlines and ferries to check identity documents, due to the European migrant crisis. From 4 January 2016, Sweden requires carriers to perform identity checks on the Danish side of the Denmark–Sweden border, while still keeping the border controls on the Swedish side (to check that the carriers perform the checks).
Abolition of passport for Nordic citizens
This protocol was implemented by the individual but concurrent decisions of the four governments. It abolished the need for citizens of the four countries to carry a passport when travelling in the three other countries provided that the trip was for such a short time that a residence permit was not necessary.
The agreement could be revoked in case of war, danger of war, or extraordinary international or national circumstances.
On 26 July 2014 the Norwegian police for the first time suspended this agreement due to a perceived terrorist threat.
Readmittance of aliens
The agreement provides that any alien, i.e. persons not citizens of the Nordic countries, having illegally entered one of the Nordic countries directly from another Nordic country should be readmitted by that country, unless that person has stayed at least a year in that country or has received either a residence or work permit.
Exemption of passport or residence permit
The protocol concerning the exemption of nationals of Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden from the obligation to have a passport or residence permit while resident in a Nordic country other than their own, was signed on 22 May 1954 in Copenhagen.
The protocol was implemented by individual but concurrent decisions by the governments of each of the countries, and can be revoked in case of war, danger of war, or other extraordinary international or national circumstances.
The protocol provides that citizens of the Nordic countries can travel without passport or other travel documentation to any other Nordic country. Citizens of the Nordic countries can reside without residence permit in any other Nordic country.
Police authorities in the Nordic countries shall make all necessary information available to ascertain a person's identity and citizenship in a Nordic country.
Removal of passport checks at the internal Nordic borders
This agreement removed all passport checks at the internal Nordic borders, and required the Nordic countries to uphold passport control at the external borders. Aliens with residence permits are allowed to stay up to three months in other Nordic countries, except for seeking employment or conducting business.
Aliens who are denied entry into one Nordic country should also be denied entry into the other Nordic countries. The Nordic countries are also obliged to readmit aliens that should have been denied entry at the first point of entry.
- Greenland not included, Faroe Islands included
- Greenland not included
- Since 1 January 1966
- Svalbard, Jan Mayen, Bouvet Island and Queen Maud's Land not included
- since 3 November 1965
- Article 140 of the Schengen Convention.
- Resor inom EU (Swedish)
- Migrant crisis: Sweden border checks come into force
- "Protocol concerning the abolition of passports for travel between Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway" (PDF). United nations treaty collection. Retrieved 2009-03-17.
- "Norway Police Requires Passports or ID Cards for Even Norwegian and Schengen Area Citizens". The Nordic Page. Retrieved 2014-07-28.
- "Agreement for readmittance of aliens who have illegally entered the territory of another contracting party" (PDF). United nations treaty collection. Retrieved 2009-03-17.
- "Protocol concerning the exemption of nationals of Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden from the obligation to have a passport or residence permit while resident in a Scandinavian country other than their own" (PDF). United nations treaty collection. Retrieved 2009-03-17.
- "Agreement between Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden to remove passport control at the internal Nordic borders" (PDF). United nations treaty collection. Retrieved 2009-03-17.