A man claiming to be a Catholic priest has been arrested after he was caught carrying cocaine under his robes, police said.

The unnamed suspect initially refused to undergo a routine body check "for religious reasons," officers added.

The suspect was then spotted lining up at a different gate at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport.

He was searched and 7 pounds of cocaine was found in packages taped to his body, police went said.

"We've seen a lot of things, baseballs filled with cocaine, wine bottles, plaster casts, but this is a first," said police spokesman Robert van Kapel.

He said the man, who was travelling from Bolivia, continued to insist he was a priest and did not confess any wrongdoing, arguing his rights had been violated by the search.

Van Kapel added: "If you want to enter (Europe) you have to pass a security check, you have to cooperate and you can't refuse a body search.

"He'll be brought before a judge."