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Don’t Lose Your Passport Because you Overstayed Your Visa

US Passport - Don't lose it
US Passport – Don’t lose it
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Question: Should I lose my passport to avoid being penalized for overstaying a visa?

Answer:

Hello Dee,

I have met people who swear that intentionally losing their passport in an attempt to hide the fact that they overstayed their visa in Europe worked. But I am now very unsure if this had any impact on why they did not get busted for violating the terms of their Schengen visa, as back then many overstayers were not getting any penalty — so it is difficult to say if the premature passport renewal had any role in them being able to skirt away free. It seems to be a different world for the long term traveler in Europe, and droves of foreigners are getting busted for overstaying.

This is what I know:

  1. I have received mail from people who have been banned from Europe for overstaying their visa who attempted to return early with a new passport just to be denied entry. It seems as if more than a passport number is logged into the Schengen Information System (the computer database that keeps track of visitors to Europe amongst other things).
  2. I have received reports that once you overstay your Schengen visa you are automatically put into a database of illegal aliens, and I am sure that more than just a passport number is filed here — plus they will be waiting (albeit very passively) for you to cross out of the region so that they have  record of entrance and exit.
  3. Intentionally losing your passport to avoid an overstay penalty is one of the oldest tricks in the traveler’s book — and it may have worked in the old days where all records where kept in paper and borders in Europe were not as tight — but this is the digital world now, and it is my impression that getting a new passport to avoid a penalty for overstaying your visa would not do you any good. Also, MANY Americans are trying this scheme to stay in Europe longer, and I am sure that the US consulates are keen to it. Your passport is, technically, not your property but that of the US government, and I would not recommend screwing with these guys. From the amount of mail that I get alone from Americans claiming to loose their passport after overstaying a Schengen visa, I am sure that the folks working in the consulates have seen it all before.

US Passport - Don't lose it

In point, I do not recommend intentionally losing a passport to avoid being penalized for overstaying a Schengen visa. If you lost it naturally — in a true accident — it may provide some smokescreen when exiting the region, but, honestly, I doubt that it would help more than it could harm.

As for your other question, if you have employers who are willing to sponsor you I would NOT leave the region until I had my work permit and residency papers in 100%, complete, and finalized order. Take a trip to another Schengen country if you want to go on vacation, stay away from England, tell your friends to come and visit you in Denmark or somewhere.

I hope this helps. Be aware that most of the early advice that I gave on this site about overstaying Schengen visas was taken from when I was working in hostels in the east of the region some years ago. What was happening “on the ground” then seems to be different than what is going on now: the region seems to have gotten tighter. I truly believe that exiting the Schengen region with a fresh passport — not the one you entered with — is only going to spark suspicion at the exit gates, and this, especially since you have been working illegally, would do you no good at all.

The Schengen zone is now a fortress, I only recommend playing it straight from here on out.

Hope this helps. Let us know what happens.

Walk Slow,

Wade

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Original question about loosing passport to hid visa entry dates

Hi, I am currently living in the Netherlands as an au pair and am beginning to start the process to maintain a working visa. I have a family to sponser me so it shouldn’t be a problem. However, I have already booked a flight to visit my friend in the UK and I realize now that I may not have a visa before that time. Is it safe to leave the Netherlands as I may not have a visa secured or should I cancel my flight or should I, as I read in an earlier post, go to the US Embassy and say that I ‘lost’ my visa and use a temporary one for travel to the (non Schengen) UK? THANKS!!

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Filed under: Europe, Netherlands, Schengen Visas, Travel Documents, 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 3048 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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