Crossing the border to and from Germany
Border crossing can be a stressful part of traveling, this page is to provide information about crossing the German border.
Did you ever cross a land border to or from Germany? If so, submit a record of your experience crossing this border.
The more information a traveler has, the more prepared they can be. What does a traveler need to go to Germany? What documents? What visas? Can you get a visa at the border? Do you need to have a visa in advance?
What transportation options does a traveler have after crossing the border into Germany? Which are best? Cheapest? In your opinion, what is the best way to get to or from this border?
Reader questions about crossing the German border or entering and exiting the Schengen zone from Germany
Does Germany punish travelers who overstay their visas in other Schengen countries? If so, what should I do?
Dear Wade, I’m making a decision now/tomorrow and could really use your insights! I was in Italy for a few months this fall. I stayed nearly three months, though just by looking at the date on my stamp, it’s hard to tell when i entered and actually looks more like i entered one month later than i did (i dont believe it was scanned, though i’m sure all my info is accessible via the airlines and perhaps the number code on the stamp). I flew into Italy, but on Lufthansa, so stamped in Germany. I left a few days before my 3 months and spent nearly two months in the uk and Croatia. I reentered by bus, and was stamped in Slovenia on Jan. 31st. I’m booked to go home next Tuesday, which will put me over the date by just a couple of weeks. My questions: 1) Does Germany’s strictness also apply to ppl like me just passing through, having spent 0 time in Germany outside airports? 2) I reaaally want to stay another month or two. Do you think this increases the chance of trouble, or if I’m going to get caught, i’ll becaught, so might as well make the most of it and stay a little longer? 3) If i am caught, best to play dumb? Thanks for your help!!
Yes, yes, yes, the Germans are just as strict about overstayers who just pass through their airport as they are with those who overstay in their country. The 25 or so countries of the Schengen zone take the entire region as one big country in terms of immigration (think of states in the USA), so an overstay in other Schengen countries will be punished in Germany like any other country of the region. But the Germans have the reputation for having incredibly strict immigration, and if you overstay by even a day, there is a good chance they will bust you. Don’t worry about your entry stamp being blurred, these German immigration officials are professionals and they will be able to read it — this is what they do all day. If you have overstayed your visa and are exiting the region from Germany expect to be processed and banned from reentering the Schengen zone for three years. It seems to be standard operating procedure for the Germans to punish overstayers regardless of country of origin and length of overstay.
As far as staying in the region for a couple of months after your overstay, it is my impression — arrived at from receiving hundreds upon hundreds of reports from travelers who have overstayed their Schengen visas — that an overstay of one year is often punished the same as one day. So whether you stay on in Europe after overstaying is at your own discretion.
Playing dumb should neither help nor hurt your cause — this is a matter of facts, not intent.
My advice is that, if you have already overstayed your visa, to exit the region from a country that is not Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, or Greece. These countries are very strict about prosecuting overstayers, though any country in the region can bust you all the same — the chance is just slight less for exiting from Italy or France. Remember that you will go through immigration in the last country you touch down in in the Schengen zone — so if your flight path has a layover in Germany, this is where you will go through immigration.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.
More information about traveling in Germany can be found at Germany Travel Guide.
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