Q: How to exit the Schengen zone after overstaying a tourist visa in Hungary?
Don’t fret too much. What you did — overstaying your Schengen visa by a month — is not a very rare thing for someone to have done. Currently, as of right now, the only countries in the region that are being overly vigilant — following the immigration laws to the line — are Germany and Switzerland. Though other countries, like the Netherlands and Belgium, are showing signs of going after visa overstayers more aggressively. So, though I would not recommend that you worry too much, I would also like to discuss your exit strategy.
I take it that you do not already have a plane ticket back to Canada, correct? This is good, as you need to make sure your flight path does not have a connection in any other Schengen country — especially Germany or Switzerland — as the last European country you leave from is the one where you will go through exit immigration. There is no good way out of Europe after a visa overstay, but there are ways to take precautions.
First of all, your biggest obstacle is getting out of Hungary. This cannot be avoided, there are no tricks here. You are just going to have to just go through immigration like everyone else and hope for the best. Typically, Hungary is not too hard on visa overstayers, so I would not worry too much. There is nothing else that can be done, so there is no point in worrying. Stand firm if you are questioned, always act like you are in the right. Excuses mean nothing, appealing to the human side of an immigration official means even less. When going through immigration, wear nice clothes, act upright as if you did nothing wrong, hand over your passport with confidence, and move with complete impunity. Chances are, you will not be hassled, and act like you are not expecting to be hassled. Be confident.
The second obstacle is where your flight will connect from Budapest on its way to Canada. If you can get a direct flight, take it, this is your best option. Though I do not know how prevalent this particular flight path is or what airlines will run it. Generally, flights to the west from Eastern Europe will connect through a third country — namely, England, Germany, Switzerland, or Ireland. Be aware of the flight path of the plane tickets you are looking to buy. Don’t buy a ticket that goes through Germany or Switzerland. For England, there are other precautions to follow.
Although the UK is not a part of the Schengen region they do assist in enforcing its immigration policy. On rare occasions, they do send unpunished Schengen visa overstayers back to the country they overstayed in for legal processing. So even if you do successfully get out of Hungary, if your flight goes through England, you may still have problems. If, after looking at flight paths, you determine that connecting through the UK is the best option, you may want to consider exiting the Schengen region overland to Serbia or Romania, and then flying to England from there. Currently, a flight leaving Belgrade for London on November 25th is $178 on British Airways, but I am sure that there may be some other budget airlines that you could fly on for less. Although the UK taking action on Schengen visa overstayers is, as I have said, rare, it does happen. But if you enter the UK on a flight from a third country — like Serbia — I highly doubt that they would, or even could, deport you back to a country other than the one you just tried to enter from.
As I’ve said, there is no way to avoid Hungarian exit immigration, and leaving the region from Hungary seems to be just as good as leaving from anywhere else in the eastern fringes of the Schengen zone. The Czech Republic is known for their lack of vigilance on the Schengen overstay front, but I am not sure if this potential is worth the extra travel to get there. In point, this is all a crap shoot, it will all depend on what immigration official is behind the desk you pull up to when exiting the Schengen region, and the tips that I can give only provide a modest advantage in getting out of the Schengen region unpunished after a visa overstay.
Wish you the best.
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Original question about how to exit Europe after overstaying a tourist visa in Hungary
This is an urgent question and I’ve donated 10$ (great site by the way)! I hope that you have time to reply soon. I have overstayed my Schengen visa in Hungary by 35 days (and counting). I gather that you get these questions all the time, but I’m hoping that you can offer some advice.
To begin, I am a Canadian citizen, I was in Hungary for a year long study program and then decided to stay and travel around the region. I have been to Romania a few times, Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, etc. But, even with those journeys, my time in Hungary has been more than 90 days. My passport is pretty confusing looking from all the stamps (many Hungarian entries). The reason that I’ve overstayed is because I was ignorant, and believed someone who told me that all I had to do was cross the border out of Schengen to ‘reset the clock’. Obviously this information could/should have been checked within 5 minutes online. I have no explanation, other than naivety and ignorance.
Also, I always play by the rules. The fact that I am breaking them now is making me very upset. I am terrified that I will be flagged leaving Hungary and given a Schengen ban (the fine does not bother me as much) which could seriously affect my job options in Canada (the ones I want involve a lot of travel). The situation is horrible, but I need to figure out how to get out of it.
Do you think that it would be best to fly direct from Budapest to Canada, or through Paris or Amsterdam? I gather it is the Hungarian authorities that will fine/ban me if I’m caught, but if I am holding a plane ticket to Canada is it possible they will just let me go? I have no intention of coming back to Schengen for another year or two, and would never overstay again.
My final question, other than asking for other general advice if you have it, is: worst case scenario, I’m caught and fined and banned. Do you have stories from people who have managed to remove the ban? Does a record of the ban stay in SIS or wherever for life?
Thanks for your time in reading this, I hope to hear from you soon.
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.