WOW ... You really like risky adventures ... good thing you where so smart not to challenge them in any way ... I agree with you, though ... If one plans to stay longer, better is to go and register to the city-hall or police and always have health insurance and financial support.
Hi there, came across this thread while searching for info regarding overstaying in Europe and I have to say I find it very informative.
I have a problem and I'm hoping fellow travellers can help me out here. I hold a Singaporean passport which has a 90-day visa waiver for travel in Europe. My fiance is a EU citizen but as we are not married yet I am unable to get a resident visa.
I arrived in Madrid via Paris on 15/8/06 (no stamp), and was out of Spain/Europe 10/11/06. I came back in again 23/11/06 (stamp) and evidently, I have broken the Schengen 90-for-180-day rule. There were no checks, no questions asked upon my entry in Madrid. Three months later, I went to Zurich 15/2/07 (stamp) to "get out of the Schengen zone" for 3 days and was back in Madrid 17/2/07 (stamp). I was asked while checking in at the Swissair counter for the flight back whether I had stayed more than 3 months in Europe and naturally, I said no. No issue and I was back in Madrid. My line of defence has always been to play dumb, that I didn't know the Schengen rule if asked, and that I did not violate my 90-day stay in Europe.
So, disregarding the Schengen rule, my 90 days will be up again on 16/5/07. However, I have plans to exit Madrid only on 1/7/07, which means I will have been staying in Madrid for 136 days prior to my exit.
So far, I have not had any problems with the Spanish customs, no questions asked. I seriously doubt they even looked at my passport stamps (could be because my passport is full of stamps...). The only thing I'm unsure of is whether the computer system is able to trace my passport movements in Europe. I've always bought my yearly return ticket from Singapore and hence, always having proof that I will be leaving the country. I have thought of flying back to Madrid through London but after reading this thread I'm having second thoughts. Maybe coming back to Madrid via Paris would be a better option, anyone? My fiance always tells me that going out is never the problem with the number of immigrants they have coming into the country. Also, that I look 100% Asian and hence not the typical immigrant which they are likely to stop (I hope he is right).
Any advice on whether I should test my luck, that the custom officer doesn't look at my stamp of 17/2/07 and just wave me through? Any chance that I may be denied entry on the way back if found out? I probably won't get checked by the Spanish customs if I come back in via Paris, so it's a question of whether the French side can trace my movements in Europe. Anyone with a similar experience?
Thanks in advance for anyone who can help me out here.
Oh my god, glad I came across this thread. I am just concluding like a 7 month trip that included one week in London, 6 weeks in Morocco, and 3 weeks in Turkey. I left Europe for Morocco and then flew into London with about 70 days and continued in Portugal, Spain again and Italy for a couple more weeks. Basically: I have already overstayed.
About a week ago, I took the ferry over to Samos, Greece, from Turkey.
There was no problem, they let me in alright. I was just planning to, in a few days, take the ferry to Athens, then fly to Paris. I have just two and a half precious weeks left in this trip and I don't want to be banned or have to pay a fine of any kind! Should I risk it again in Greece? I think they'd let me in, but do they check flying out?! Please help, it's crunch time.
Hey Overstayer. First, you if you haven’t already you might want to consider just move the wedding up if you guys are sure about it, and you want to keep staying. These overstay issues could be a problem for you later after you two do get married – they will likely scrutinize you (and your passport) more thoroughly then. Before you do undergo that process, I would recommend “losing” your passport and getting a new one without the “incriminating” stamps in it. Then don’t overstay with the new passport.
You did not get out of the Schengen zone when you went to Zurich. They are Schengen now. Also, you would have had to stay in a non-Schengen country for 90 days in order for leaving Schengen this to have made you all legal, assuming you had already been in Schengen the last 90 days.
As I write this, it is Apr 30, 2007. So any time you have spent in Schengen since about Nov 2, 2006 counts toward your Schengen 90 days out of 180 days rule. Sounds like you were in Schengen Nov 2 thru Nov 10 (8 days), then Nov 23 thru Feb 17 (about 76 days), and if I understand correctly when you say you flew back from Zurich on Feb 17, you mean back to Madrid, not Singapore, and that you have been there ever since (about another 72 days). That would mean you have been in Schengen a cumulative 157 days or so out of the last 180. Overstay, big time.
OR, did you fly back to Madrid, only to immediately fly back to Singapore? Seems like that is what you’re saying based on your next paragraph. That would mean, yes, as of May 16 or so, you could return, for 90 days. So leaving on July 1 would not be a problem – guess I’m confused as to when you actually left Schengen, if at all.
The way I hear it, an overstay would result in either a very large fine, or a large fine coupled with a ban on your entering Schengen for maybe 5 years (which is usually enforced – they may not stamp your passport at every entry, but if you present your passport at passport control, they pretty much always key the number into the computer and it WILL alert them if a ban is in effect). They would probably hassle you a lot about how you supported yourself while there, and if you could not prove a source of funds, might detain you for a while (a few days or weeks in a “fishbowl”), while they investigate you a little.
My advice would be for you to get on out of Schengen as soon as possible, if you want to avoid hefty fines and a ban. The computers there are apparently not very sophisticated, though every time one of those guys on a train or at some border crossing keyed in your passport number, there is a record of that with Europol. You will, as I understand it, need a clearance certificate from them before you can get a residence visa. How much checking they will do is uncertain to me. If you have overstayed, consider crossing in a cab or something from Vienna in to Bratislava (non-Schengen) and flying out of there. Slovenia doesn’t enforce or concern themselves with Schengen’s rules. Though you might be better off just to fly out from where you are, rather than risk multiple passport checks on trains getting to Vienna (could rent a car and drop it in Vienna, then take a local bus and/or cab to Bratislava – about 50 kilometers).
I think that the computers aren’t too sophisticated. Seems virtually no one (unless banned, or a fugitive listed with Interpol, or someone in the Interpol database for having committed a major international crime like drug smuggling, human trafficking, or terrorism) is tripped up by COMPUTERS. It is much more likely you would be tripped up by 1) admitting you overstayed, or 2) some guy having a bad day examines your stamps closely and gets you that way. In which case you should never even acknowledge that you have ever even heard of Schengen, and say “But I was only here (meaning in the current country) 90 days…”
I have a good friend who is an American flight attendant. She at times gets scrutinized in EUROPE and is asked “Why do you keep coming and going so often?”, and they scrutinize her stamps. She proves she is a flight attendant and that satisfies them. Anyway, lots of frequent coming and going is likely to get you scrutinized.
London/UK is not part of Schengen and does not enforce Schengen’s laws. Can’t see any point in traveling thru there. Also, the UK, so I hear, is much more likely to scrutinize you, ask for proof of funds and so on, then most Schengen countries are. If you merely pass thru UK, you will probably not even de-board the plane and hence no passport check there anyway.
Not really sure when/if you ever left Schengen, so not sure exactly what to say. Hope this helped. My best advice is just don’t overstay anymore, and consider “losing “ your passport if you can get another easily enough. Oh, and when those guys on the trains key in a number off your train ticket and never touch your passport, they are STILL keying in the passport number OFF YOUR TICKET and Europol has a record. Ditto for those hotel and hostel stays. They may not know where you ARE (or even care, if you aren’t causing problems), but they know where you have BEEN. When/if you apply for residence, that could pose a problem.
Might be wise to begin establishing the practice of ALWAYS henceforth obeying the 90 day rule, so you can, if necessary, in the future, state that you learned about that rule in April 2007 and began following it scrupulously once you knew about it. Would show a concern for obeying their rules.
Mythxation: You have not overstayed in Schengen. The UK (and Morocco and Turkey) are NOT part of Schengen. So long as you have not been in Schengen more than 90 of the past 180 days (sounds like only a month or so), you are fine. For a list of all countries, their requirements, and who is Schengen or not, see http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/brochures/brochures_1229.html
Given that you traveled in Morocco, and have been on the road for a while, you are more likely to be questioned about source of funds, proof of insurance, and so on. Recommend you carry that documentation on you.
Mythxation: By the way, it is unlikely anyone will worry about your source of funds or anything since you will be LEAVING Schengen, not entering. Actually helps to look clean/well dressed and groomed, too. Most countries, or perhaps rather individual customs/passport employees, do profile people and every time I see some young person with tattoos and piercings who looks like they slept a week in their clothes they and ONLY they get their bags searched thoroughly. Also, in some countries, especially Israel, the U.S., and many Islamic nations, actually have people whose sole job is to just observe every passenger waiting to enter/board for suspicious, unusual behavior, even if it's just nervousness, shifty eyes, etc. The U.S. is actually implementing a computer system that does this watching and flags these behaviors. So, especially in your case where you have done nothing wrong, best to just look relaxed (and clean, etc
thanks and appreciate your thoughts. Sorry I wasn't very clear in my earlier post regarding the dates etc. Moving up the wedding is not an option at the moment but I'll keep in mind about getting a new passport when I am able to apply for the resident status.
I checked up on the EU official website in Feb 07 and it was mentioned that Zurich is not part of the Schengen zone, hence my decision to go there. Assuming you are right about Zurich and that the computer system has records of my travels, I should not have been allowed back into Madrid on 17/2 (15/8 - 10/11, 23/11 - 15/2 total 169 days). Well to cut the long story short, from 15/8/06 until today 30/4/07, I've only left the Schengen region for 12 days (not counting Zurich). That's overstaying big time like you said.
The thing is, I get stamped everytime I leave or enter Madrid, and if there is a record always, why then, am I allowed back in the country everytime? So if I take your advice and get out of Schengen say, 15 May for example, when would it be advisable for me to come back to Madrid again? For the resident visa, the clearance I need is from my country of origin so as of this moment, everything is under control.
The problem I have with flights is that there is no direct flight from Singapore to Madrid. A transit in Europe is inevitable, and it is usually in Paris, Rome or London. I know for a fact that from Rome/Paris to Madrid, there is hardly any customs check, but for London it seems they are a little more stringent.
Basically, i can fake not knowing the Schengen 90-day rule, that Zurich is to my understanding not part of Schengen, that I don't understand Spanish at all and up till today, I've always stayed less than 90 days each time, and if I do get caught, do you think this line of defence would stand?
Million thanks for your inputs.
Overstayer: A few points: First, Schengen and the EU are not the same things. Some countries are Schngen but no EU, some are EU but not Schengen (again, see the website I mentioned, especially the bottom of that page where it explains Schengen). Second, even if Switzerland is not now technically Schengen (full enforcement does not begin until Sept of this year), you cannot get around the 90 day rule by just leaving Schengen and going into some non-Schengen nation a few days, then return to Schengen. If you have been in Schengen for 90 days, and then go to say, Slovenia (non-Schengen) and stayed there say, 20 days, you would still have already stayed in Schengen 90 of THE LAST 180 DAYS. If you stay in Schengen 90 days, you must LEAVE FOR 90 DAYS to LEGALLY reenter.
As for the EU website, it is often behind by many months if not years, sometimes it’s even dead wrong. Some years ago it failed to even mention that Monaco or Andorra were part of Schengen – well, actually they technically weren’t. But the French and Spanish authorities who did their customs/passport/border checks ENFORCED Schengen for them anyway! So my plan to stay in Spain 90 days, then Andorra and Monacco for a while, did not work out. I could have done it anyway, but I just ALWAYS follow the rules, whatever it takes, and good thing or I would have been banned already.
Like I said, their computers are NOT at all sophisticated. They rarely catch a person violating these rules unless you are scrutinized and the passport stamps are scrutinized. For one thing, they know that there is USUALLY not an exit stamp, so even if, say, Spain sees that you got an entry stamp into Spain 5 months ago and no other stamps, they would ask you about it before they fined/detained you, because you might have driven a rental car of taken a train to Slovenia or other non-Schengen nations for much of that 5 months. You'd have to lie and say that to avoid the fine or whatever, and they MIGHT beleive you, or they MIGHT check the computer systems or call Europol or whatever and discover that it shows passport checks or hotel stays IN SCHENGEN during the time you claimed you were out of Schengen. If they catch you lying, they might even charge you with lying to a customs or passport officer. Not sure in what countries consider that is a crime, although I know it is in the German speaking countries (Germany, Switz, Austria).
Spain keeps letting you back in because 1) the computers are set up to alert them only if you have been banned, are a fugitive listed with Interpol, or have been convicted of a major international crime. Though a few experienced travelers tell me that Europol occasionally notices, from passport scans and hotel stay information, that someone has seriously abused the rules, and lists them too – meaning the computers will alert them the next time you are scanned. Seems this is done rarely but at times to try to send out the message that the computers MIGHT catch you. But far more likely is that they would randomly select you for scrutiny, analyze your stamps, ask where you have been and when, then check the computer/call Europol to see if your statements jibe with what you told them. Better to NOT lie and play dumb, probably. EVEN BETTER: DON’T OVERSTAY.
Incidentally, if you get caught up in any kind of incident (witness to a crime, suspect in a crime, involved in a car wreck, etc.) there is a good chance they might scrutinize you and if they realize you have overstayed AT A TIME WHEN YOU ARE NOT ALREADY TRYING TO LEAVE AT THE AIRPORT, they will assume you intended to stay longer, maybe forever, and detain you as an illegal immigrant. That would be bad, especially these days in Spain where anti-immigrant feelings are high (vigilante justice is not uncommon).
NOTE: The Spanish authorities are probably the only in the world you won’t blow a fuse if you have been WORKING in their country without a permit (would still probably deport you, though, and ban you). Most countries would charge you with a crime or at least let you linger in jail for a good while. This is because Spain has a worker shortage – they WANT foreign laborers. So you might find it pretty easy to get a work contract there, though probably in some farm work or something low pay like that, even without a permit. About every 5 years or so for about the last twenty, Spain grants amnesty to anyone in the country who 1) has a work contract, and 2) has no criminal record in Spain or in another country. Get the amnesty and you get a work permit and residence permit, and after a few years or so you can get citizenship. Such amnesties often happen after elections when the various political parties have to form a coalition to be able to rule, and the big parties give in to whatever little party got elected on the platform of an amnesty. This happened in Holland in February of this year. Everyone saw it coming. I saw it coming, and almost went to Holland to apply for asylum (no grounds, really) just before it happened. Kind of wish I had now. America is rapidly becoming a police state and the REAL ID act that goes into effect next year is going to accelerate that a lot. A few American states have already passed laws BANNING its use in their state, and their citizens will not even be able to enter federal property (like a post office), board a interstate bus, board any plane, etc., unless they go to another state to get the REAL ID. More states are working on similar laws and I suspect there will be a major showdown between the states and feds – probably mass demonstrations and even perhaps military occupying the ID offices of states and putting in their own people. We’ll see. The democrats had better reverse this new law soon or after the Nov 08 election or that party, like the Republican, will probably see most of the last of their party adherents flee to the Independents. I actually look forward to that, though. But I digress…
Most EU nations will not grant the residence visa without doing THEIR OWN check with Europol for a clearance. You just don’t know about this because it is not YOUR duty to make this check.
The European transit issue (going thru other airports) is probably nothing to worry about – you may go thru customs but you usually don’t go thru passport control in these transits. But it depends on the country, airport. Paris or probably Rome would be better but pick the place where you have not generally had to deal with passport control for transits to avoid the possibility you might be randomly selected for scrutiny.
As for the “line of defense” you mention standing, it might help. IF you really did not stay in Spain over 90 days. Don’t lie to them. Just don’t MENTION Schengen and act like you never heard of it. Better yet: Just don’t overstay. It’s just a matter of when, not if. Sooner or later, the more you travel and go thru border controls, you better the chance you will get scrutinized, even if just randomly. Be sure to carry all the stuff you should have on you, like proof of medical insurance, shots that may be required, proof of funds, onward ticket, etc. You will be asked for those from time to time and if you don’t have it may well be scrutinized.
One last note: Switz voted to join Schengen in late 2005. It is scheduled to go into effect (full enforcement) on Sept 1, 2007 (unless that has changed since the law passed). But I have seen them at times act like they are enforcing it already, meaning looking at stamps and stuff. But again, just going to non-Schengen for a few days is no help anyway. The rule is: only 90 days out of any 180 period in Schengen.
In the time we have both spent writing and reading these posts, you could already have “lost” your passport, applied for a replacement, learned exactly what the rules are, and made a conscious decision to obey them henceforth!
Just doing a follow up to provide info for folks in similar situations.
I posted earlier about my concerns and experiences overstaying in Europe many times in the past. My main concern was that with technology getting better all the time, I might get nabbed this time. Well, I was in France for about 6 months, and just couldn't take the cold dark winter any longer and departed out of Charles de Gaulle departing to India with no problems. The passport guys did not even blink an eye when they scanned my passport.
A simple smile and a "Bon Jour" as I presented my passport like I had done it a hundred times before. The guy looked at my photo, then at me, and waived me on through.
It was a load off of my mind, but since I had overstayed by several months on several occasions before, it wasn't really a huge concern.
Just to let you guys know.
My general feeling is that if you haven't done anything REALLY illegal and your name isn't on interpol or the FBI's lists, you will probably get through without incident. The caveat being that if you actually have a visa and overstayed it, then you might be asking for trouble. I never get a visa anymore when going to Europe and I never register in any country. I also don't walk into police stations confessing crimes. If you tell them you've done something wrong, or your visa clearly states that you have overstayed, then they are most likely obliged to take action.
I have travelled freely between France, Holland, Belgium, Germany, and even Switzerland with no problems.