Eu Legislation

Financial penalties on carriers



Council Directive 2001/51/EC of 28 June 2001 supplementing the provisions of Article 26 of the Convention implementing the Schengen Agreement of 14 June 1985.


This directive is intended to combat illegal immigration through the harmonisation of financial penalties imposed by European Union (EU) countries on carriers who are breaching their obligations. In particular, it supplements Article 26 of the Convention implementing the Schengen Agreement concerning carriers' liability and defines its application as a tool for combating illegal immigration.

Carriers must ensure that non-EU nationals who intend to enter the territories of EU countries possess the necessary travel documents and, where appropriate, visas. They have the obligation to return a non-EU national in transit who has been refused entry to the territories of EU countries when the non-EU national is also refused:

  • boarding onto the carrier that was to transport him/her to the country of destination;
  • entry by the country of destination, which has sent him/her back to the EU country of transit.

A carrier that is unable to carry out the return of a non-EU national is responsible for finding the means for his/her onward transportation. If this transportation cannot be effectuated immediately, the carrier must assume responsibility for the costs of the stay and return of the non-EU national.

EU countries must impose dissuasive, effective and proportionate financial penalties against carriers in breach of their obligations. They must ensure that the:

  • maximum amount of the penalties is not less than EUR 5 000;
  • minimum amount of the penalties is not less than EUR 3 000;
  • maximum amount of the penalty imposed as a lump sum for each infringement is not less that EUR 500 000.

These financial penalties do not apply to cases where the non-EU national is seeking international protection.

EU countries may in addition adopt penalties of a different type, such as seizure of the vehicle or withdrawal of the operating license.

Carriers against whom proceedings have been brought for failure to fulfil their obligations have the right to defence and appeal.


Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Directive 2001/51/EC



OJ L 187 of 10.7.2001


Council Directive 2004/82/EC of 29 April 2004 on the obligation of carriers to communicate passenger data [Official Journal L 261 of 6.8.2004].


Last updated: 03.05.2010