Last reviewed 16 June 2020

Clandestine migration has eased slightly while more stringent border crossing checks have been in place due to the current Covid-19 crisis but could be set to escalate as restrictions begin to be lifted.

A recent report from the European Migrant Smuggling Centre (EMSC), part of Europol, suggests that there has been a shift “to hiding of irregular migrants in concealments in freight vehicles and cargo trains that still move across the borders” even during the coronavirus outbreak.

International freight insurer, TT Club, has highlighted statistics which indicate that 86% of recorded incidents involve movement of cargo by road, often involving a ferry crossing.

TT Club’s Managing Director (Loss Prevention), Mike Yarwood, said: “Our first consideration of course must be with the well-being of the migrants themselves, who are often victims of criminal activities and whose lives are often at risk.”

In terms of the liabilities that transport operators are exposed to, he went on, TT Club is warning of potential physical damage to cargoes, additional freight costs, vehicle and equipment detention, fines, penalties and reputational damage.

Criminal organisations, who are often the facilitators of this clandestine movement, know that the simplest way to move people across international borders is to hide them in legitimate freight transport.

TT Club has produced a guide, “Clandestine migration: Mitigating safety and security risks in the global supply chain” which can be found at

It details the measures that should be taken: specific training for drivers; precise security procedures; robust security devices to secure the vehicle, goods and cargo space; and practical measures before and during the packing process, and in transit.

“Constant vigilance and awareness are the only ways to combat stowaways in these types of transport,” Mr Yarwood said. “Vehicles should be checked regularly en route to ensure that they have not been entered, particularly after stops when left unattended.”