“Why do you have a British Passport?”

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


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?




  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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