“Why do you have a British Passport?”

Ahh, the Dutch. Masters of straight-to-the-point conversation and interrogation.

uk-passport

As some may know, when boarding flights to the USA, you are subject to Pre-Departure Clearance. At Amsterdam these checks are conducted by G4S security, who the British crowd may have heard of through their botched London 2012 Olympics contract.

Sometimes though I find the whole experience funny as they can ask some bizarre questions which don't convince me that they're working towards national security. In recent times I've been asked:

So you live here in Netherlands? Show me your health insurance card

I don't actually know whether having your NL health insurance card on you is a legal requirement or not. I certainly don't carry it, and just carry a photo of the front and back on my phone.

You say you fly a lot – show me your frequent flyer card.

The answer I wanted to provide was “No. I manage everything electronically through Awardwallet“, but of course that would confuse more than help. As luck would have it I did have a Turkish Airlines card on me, which was sort of irrelevant for the Delta/KLM codeshared flight I was taken. They accepted this.

Why do you have a British Passport?

This one really did throw me off guard! I admit I'm not Caucasian, but this is the 21st century after all – there are plenty of brown/black/yellow people here in Holland!  I did have a few retorts running around my head to test their reaction, such as:

  • I'm an anchor baby.
  • Why are you ugly?
  • Because I'm British (after all, a passport is a proof of nationality, rather than being a definitive document)

Unfortunately, rather than answering the above, I got into a bit of panic as broken words fell out of my mouth.

Me: “Um…ah….well…”

Agent: “Were you born there?”

The follow up question once again did nothing to help my situation. I answered “I lived there a long time” which is true – approximately my whole life minus a few months (I had just moved to The Netherlands at that point).

I boarded my flight kicking myself for not playing up to the situation. Of course, if they were asking why I have 2 British Passports then that's a totally different matter. You have to let some pass I suppose!

Have you been asked some strange questions at security or immigrations before? What would you have done in my situation?

 

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  1. Ding ding ding….”Because I’m British” was the correct answer. He was probably fighting with the wife and took it out on you. I was once put in the holding pen at Heathrow when I told them I didn’t have a plan on where or how long I’d be staying, I was backpacking. They let me in after I told them to forget it, just let me into the airport and I’ll get a ticket to France.

  2. Not my own experience but my mom was once asked by a UK border officer “ How many windows do you have at your home in Nottingham ?” My mom was also once asked at Seattle, “ do you bring any gifts to your daughter or son-in-law ? “ My wise mom simply replied “ I gave them money instead! “

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