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IAD to ATH via FCO - Where do we clear customs?

Hello! We are flying from Washington, Dulles to Athens with a layover and change of plans in Rome (from United to Aegean). Will clear customs in Rome or Athens?

The main reason we are asking is that we are looking to book a domestic flight from Athens to Santorini and trying to figure out how much time we should budget Obviously having to clear customs in Athens would require a lot of extra time!


Posted by
2336 posts

you will clear passport control at your entry point to the Schengen area i.e. Rome

you will clear customs (which is a check on goods and is just a walk through unless you are stopped for drug smuggling etc) in Athens

Posted by
13 posts

I believe Athens since it's an incoming international flight. Not entirely sure, but it might be better to have too much time than not enough.

Posted by
8889 posts

Customs is irrelevant. "You" never go through customs, customs is the check on the contents of your luggage, whether any taxes are liable for importing goods. It is a non-issue, you walk though the "nothing to declare" door and 0.1% of the time you will get a random check.

What does take time is immigration (passport checks). This is the check whether you are allowed into the country, how long for, and where your passport will (if necessary) get stamped.

The "Schengen Area" is a passport union, there are no passport controls between Schengen countries, just when you enter or leave the area. Both Italy and Greece are part of the Schengen Area, your passport will be checked in Rome. Rome to Athens is treated as a domestic flight as it is within the Schengen Area - no passport checks.

Wherever your bags are checked through to (Athens or Santorini) is where you will see them for the first time, and where they go through the non-event of customs. They will be labelled so they can be distinguished from bags that joined at Rome or Athens.

Posted by
1223 posts

It is best to allow 2 hours from your expected arrival time and the departure of your connecting flight. It can go faster than that but 2 hours is a safe time frame.

Posted by
12 posts

If I may add on a question in the same vein, that I posted previously, but I think I got a wrong answer. On a return flight from Athens I will layover in Amsterdam then continue on to a USA airport. If I am interpreting Chris's response to jjtrinva's question correctly then that would mean since Athens and Amsterdam are both in the Schengen zone I will not go through passport control in Amsterdam but I will in the USA. Is that right?

Posted by
2336 posts


You will go through passport control on your exit from the Schengen area (i.e. Amsterdam) to check if you're on a wanted list.

You will go through border control on your arrival back in the US. They too will check if you're on any wanted list.

These controls aren't optional and are not things you need to remember to do - the airports are designed in such a way in that you can't miss them by mistake.