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Defining the facilitation of illegal immigration

To improve the prevention of the facilitation of illegal immigration, this directive provides European Union (EU) countries with a common definition for such infringements.


Council Directive 2002/90/EC of 28 November 2002 defining the facilitation of unauthorised entry, transit and residence.


With a view to creating an area of freedom, security and justice, the European Union (EU) must take measures to combat the aiding of illegal immigration. To this end, EU countries’ legal provisions regarding such offences must be harmonised.

Consequently, this directive provides a common definition for the “facilitation of illegal immigration”, thus improving the application of the penal framework for preventing the facilitation of illegal immigration.


The directive defines the following as infringements:

  • assisting intentionally a non-EU country national to enter or transit through the territory of an EU country, in breach of laws;
  • assisting intentionally, and for financial gain, a non-EU country national to reside in the territory of an EU country, in breach of laws;
  • instigating, assisting in or attempting to commit the above acts.

EU countries must adopt effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions for these infringements. However, for the first above infringement, where the aim is to provide humanitarian assistance EU countries are not obliged to impose sanctions.


ActEntry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Directive 2002/90/EC



OJ L 328 of 5.12.2002

Last updated: 30.11.2010
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