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Can Immigration Tell When I Entered the Country if I Lost My Passport

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Can European immigration tell when I entered the Schengen region if I lost my passport? —

Will I have a problem returning home without an entry stamp? Will they be able to trace my passport theft and know when I entered Italy. Shall I fly into another country, perhaps, France, just to get an Entry stamp 3 months before I am ready to return to the USA. Will the immigration in France question my blank passport?

Hello Sasha,

I have known people who claim that loosing their passport in Europe enabled them to lie about their entry date to be able to stay in the region longer. But I sincerely doubt that this was the reason.

When you enter a Schengen country, of which Italy is one, your passport is swiped and your entry information is entered into the Schengen information system (SIS) – a computer database that holds information on people and property in the Schengen region. So yes, when you exit the country all the immigration inspector would need to do is put in your name and your information should come up, including the date that you entered Italy. Your newly acquired passport should not be able to provide you with much smokescreen.

Though this is the official, to the line policy. Very often Westerners have been able to enter and exit Italy with overstayed Schengen visas — though I cannot recommend this course of action if you do not wish to face the consequences (a fine and a possible ban from the region).

In this way, answering questions about overstaying Schengen visas is a tricky endeavor: many people seem to get away with it, while others don’t. It is a hit or miss endeavor. Though I highly recommend that you leave Italy when you are suppose to and just return 90 days later — take a boat to Albania, go to Croatia or Turkey — it has been widely reported that Italy is one of the most lenient countries when it comes to overstaying Shengen visas in the region. But you never know when this may change, and you also will not know how an overstay on your visa now may impact your ability to enter Europe in the future. In point, you may be able to stay in Italy for an extra three months but five years down the road you may be refused entry to Italy or another Schengen country.

I received a letter a couple of weeks ago from a traveler who overstayed in the Netherlands. The Dutch authorities did not seem too concerned, but they did tell her that she may be denied entry to the Schengen region in the future — they did not even really know.

It is very unclear how much information about you a European immigration official can receive from the Schengen Information System, but I would not underestimate it. I do not think you can fool them — they may not care if you overstay, they may be too lazy to prosecute you, but I don’t think they can be fooled if they don’t want to be.

Even if the immigration inspector is not able to determine when you entered the region because you no longer have an entry stamp in your passport, they could just read that you received the new passport in Florence on October 14th, 2009 — 90 days from this date only gives you three extra days in Italy. This information is clearly printed on the physical passport, there is no hiding it.

As I watch immigration inspectors check my passport I have noticed that they first swipe it, and then they check the data in the passport against what comes up on their computer screen. I would not underestimate their ability to know exactly when you enter an exit the Schengen region (but whether or not they care too much is another story).

To answer your other questions

  1. You probably will not have trouble returning home without an entry stamp in your passport. People loosing their passports happens all the time, it is standard operating procedure to process people who acquired new travel documents abroad.
  2. Flying to France to get a new entry stamp will do you no good. France is also in the Schengen region and there are no border controls for travel within this region. Your passport will probably not even be looked at by French immigration and will not be stamped. You could exit the region by going to a non Schengen country and return 90 days later to get a new visa. But if you are not out of the Schengen region for 90 days withing 180, leaving and returning will also not do you much good.
  3. Other countries within the Schengen region probably will not question your new passport with a lack of an entry stamp. They probably already have all of the information they need on you in their computer database. Many travelers seem to loose their passports in Europe.

In the end, even though you may not be punished if you were to stay for three more months in Italy, you cannot determine how this may affect your future visits to other countries in the region. There is a very good chance that there will not be any impact ever, but I must say that it would suck pretty hard to get turned back at a border and get sent straight home at some point in the future because you overstayed a visa years before.

It happens. My advice: leave when you are suppose to for 90 days and then return. There is an entire world to travel outside of Western Europe.

Additional resources

Additional information added 1/08/09

This is a comment that I received on the page, Overstaying Visa in Europe,  I think it also deserves to be published here as it contains direct information on how the SIS can be used to punish visa overstayers.

“Eh…I was fined in Zurich for overstaying my tourist visa by 4 months. I paid the fine, went back home to the USA, and recently I applied for a student visa to Italy, so I can do it all the legal way. well, my visa was rejected, because Switzerland put my name in SIS. I am appealing it, for various reasons that will make this short story a long one…

But my advice is–unless you have an old, old passport without a chip, do not tempt things. Switzerland and I have heard Germany are quite diligent; I have also heard Greece is cracking down due to their proximity to non schengen countries. My situation is all my own fault, but even in Italy, carabinieri told me “oh, you’re american, don’t worry.” wrong. each country decides how they want to proceed.”

These couple paragraphs sum up the Schengen visa overstay issues very well: nobody — not even the authorities — know how Schengen visa overstayers will be processed. I have heard many times that the immigration officials in various Schengen countries telling travelers that they will not be penalized for overstaying their visas, just to bust them on their way out. You can never know in advance how you will be processed for overstaying your Schengen visa:  Some people get no penalty at all, some receive a slap on the wrists, and others get fined or banned. Again, I would not underestimate the information that immigration officials can draw from the SIS.

I hope this helps.

Walk Slow,

Wade

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Original question about lost passport in Europe

Ciao Wade, I am in Florence Italy. I arrived on October 6, 2009. On October 9 my wallet was stolen with with my USA Passport. I reported it to the Italian Police. I went to the American Counselet in Florence to get a replacement Passport. It came back in one week issue date October 14, 2009. Officially,I am due to go back to the States on January 6, 2009..90 days from Entry to Europe.

The question: My new replacement passport does not have an ENTRY STAMP DATE. I would like to stay for another 3 months in Italy without going through the legal paperwork. Will I have a problem returning home without an entry stamp? Will they be able to trace my passport theft and know when I entered Italy. Shall I fly into another country, perhaps, France, just to get an Entry stamp 3 months before I am ready to return to the USA. Will the immigration in France question my blank passport? So many questions! I don’t know what to do…thanks for answering my questions Wade!

Do you have a Schengen visa question?

If so, then take a look at our Schengen visa community forum. It’s a community just for people who have questions or concerns related to Europe’s Schengen immigration zone.
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Filed under: Europe, Italy, Schengen Visas, Travel Help, Visas

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 76 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3054 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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