Where’s your passport?

After 9/11, airport security increased in the United States. We assume a passenger of an airline cannot be let on board an international flight without the proper documentation. Who checks our passports, visas or driver’s licenses? Whose ‘job’ is it before you leave the country to make sure you have the proper documents to enter the next country? Is it the job of the employees at Delta’s check in? Is it TSA’s job? Who checks our IDs?

In Switzerland, “the Federal Council has passed draft legislation which increases the sanctions for airlines which allow foreign passengers to fly without sufficient travel documents (eg, passport, visa or permit to stay) to enter the Swiss territory. The proposed legislation is intended to reduce the number of people who arrive in Switzerland with insufficient identification. . . . The legislation applies to airlines which transport passengers from an airport of departure outside the Schengen Area to a Swiss international airport.”

Could this really happen? Apparently, in 2011 there were almost 1,000 cases in the Swiss territory.

Switzerland plans to shift the burden of proof to the airline for these violations. The airlines “would be required to demonstrate that it has complied with the standard of care in the event that a passenger provided insufficient travel documentation.”

What are the consequences of these violations?

“Transportation of a passenger in violation of the duty of care in respect of sufficient travel documents – Sfr4,000 (approximately €3,330) per passenger and in severe cases Sfr16,000 (approximately €13,320) per passenger.

Violation of reporting obligations – Sfr4,000 (approximately €3,330) per flight and in severe cases Sfr12,000 (approximately €10,000) per flight.”

The legislation also provided exceptions for the airlines if they “could prove that it had implemented all necessary and reasonable organizational measures to avoid transporting passengers without sufficient travel documentation. The same would apply if:

  • it was not possible to verify the falsification of, or other tampering with, travel documents;
  • it was not possible to verify that the travel documents did not relate to the person in question; or
  • the Swiss authorities approved entry into the Swiss territory.”

Who should check your ID? Who should pay if you make it to the Swiss territory and do not have the proper documents to enter the territory?  Is this legislation late in the game?

See, http://www.internationallawoffice.com/newsletters/detail.aspx?g=e0a7adaf-fb03-4e3a-8dbe-0d66d234f9c2


One comment

  1. I think this could potentially yield very positive results for Switzerland. Airlines and their employees are, essentially, the gatekeepers of who enters, and who does not enter, a country. Once someone passes through security at the airport, the chances are high that they will land in their desired location. Therefore, implementing such measures directly aimed at Airlines seems quite worthwhile in fulfilling the country’s objectives. If Airlines are aware of the fact that they will face strict penalties for violating the Swiss law, they will have incentive to follow the laws.

    While here in the USA we rely on the TSA for such screening measures, is this the case in Switzerland? Does Switzerland have their own comparable agency? Having never traveling to the country, I am unsure of this fact. Without a TSA or other similar agency, it seems the job of security checking would lie in the hands of the airlines without a doubt.

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