Even though Slovakia and Austria are both part of the border-free Schengen Area, passengers who took the Regiojet bus from Vienna to Bratislava in the past couple of months report that they were asked to show their passports before boarding the bus.
"We've noticed intensified checks at the border by Austrian police in the last six months," Martin Žarnovický, PR & marketing coordinator from the RegioJet transport company, confirmed.
These are not internal border controls, but rather regular police checks that may involve identity check and that do not violate the Schengen rules as defined by the European Commission. The bus operators that The Slovak Spectator addressed have not felt they needed to inform their passengers about the eventuality that their IDs might be checked.
"We don't communicate it specially since the number of checks, compared to the number of scheduled runs, is small," says Eva Vozárová, spokesperson for the Slovak Lines bus operator.
Valid travel documents between Austria and Slovakia
The police and bus operators point out that passengers are responsible for always having valid ID with them on the trip.
Border controls vs. police checks
Internal border controls (i.e controls at the borders within the EU) have been abolished between Austria and Slovakia ever since the latter joined the Schengen Area in 2008. But owing to the unmanageable influx of refugees in the second half of 2015, Austrian authorities temporarily reintroduced the controls on the border with Slovakia between September and November 2015.