ID now required at border crossings

Bookmark and Share

UPDATED: Confusion reigned on Saturday as Nordic citizens, who’ve been able to cross borders within the Nordic countries relatively freely, suddenly had to carry either a passport or an international ID card when arriving in Norway on Saturday. Heightened security at border checkpoints means returning Norwegians must also be prepared to show their passport or other official ID, even if they’ve only crossed into Sweden to go shopping.

Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) was advising citizens and permanent residents on the radio Saturday morning that they’d better not leave Norway for a quick trip to Sweden or on the popular ferries to Denmark, for example, without carrying identification that would be accepted by police and border authorities. That includes a passport, an international ID card or, in some cases, a Norwegian bank card or driver’s license.

Denied ferry boarding
By midday, NRK was reporting that some Norwegians who’d driven over the border for holidays along Sweden’s west coast or to go shopping in Sweden (where prices are much lower than in Norway) were already being stopped. NRK also reported long delays at the ferry pier in Frederikshavn, Denmark, as all passengers had to pass through extensive ID control points.

Newspaper Dagbladet reported that a football club from Hamar was denied boarding of their ferry home to Norway after playing in the Dana Cup in Denmark, because they didn’t have passports with them. That threatened their participation in the Norway Cup football tournament that starts in Oslo on Sunday.

All vehicles and passengers leaving the Color Line ferry that arrived in Oslo from Kiel, Germany on Saturday were also checked by police and customs authorities. Most of them had passports, however: Even though Norway is part of the EU’s so-called “Schengen agreement” that allows free passage within many of the EU countries, residents are still required to carry a passport or international ID during European travel outside the Nordic countries (Finland, Sweden, Norway, Iceland and Denmark).

Suddenly tougher entry requirements
The problem this weekend was the sudden imposition of heightened security because of vague but credible threats of a terrorist attack against Norway during the next few days. Many Norwegians on summer holiday had already traveled to other Scandinavian and Nordic countries without passports or international ID and now faced some challenges returning.

John Ståle Stamnes of the state police directorate told NRK that Norwegian citizens who were already out of the country wouldn’t be required to produce a passport. “Norwegian police are carrying out the controls and travelers can be required to prove who they are with the help of a driver’s license or bank card if they don’t have a passport,” Stamnes told NRK.

Reports from Denmark suggested otherwise. Øystein Jakobsen, team leader of the football club from Hamar, told Dagbladet they were stopped anyway. “These are all girls aged 13 to 17 and they all have bank cards,” Jakobsen said. “It hasn’t helped. Some of us even have copies of our passports with us, but we’re not being allowed to board (the ferry from Frederikshavn to Oslo).”

Police officials maintained that was not in line with their demands, and they blamed the border chaos on instructions issued by the local international harbours at their own initiative. The misunderstanding was later straightened out, the team was allowed on board and were sailing home. Another team from Jølster faced similar problems and was unsure whether they’d be able to board Saturday evening’s ferry without passports.

There also were long lines Saturday morning at the southern border crossing into Norway on the E6 highway at Svinesund, where armed police were checking every car entering the country. The border crossing at Svinesund is the largest in Norway, with around 20,000 cars passing it every day  in the summertime. Customs authorities and police advised travelers to be prepared for delays and allow plenty of time for driving back into Norway.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund