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What is the Punishment for Giving European Immigration a False Address

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Q: Can I be banned from the Schengen region for giving the wrong address on an immigration form?

A:

Very often the questions asked on immigration forms do not match the reality of a traveler’s circumstances. In your case, the form asked for your address in Spain and you don’t have one. Don’t worry, most travelers don’t. The trick is that you MUST fill in every blank on an immigration form in order to pass into the country — there is no other way. If you try to leave the “address” field blank they you are going to arise suspicion when the immigration official inspects it — you are going to be asked questions, interrogated, hassled, and, in the end, pretty much forced to supply some address in the country you are entering.

The standard operating procedure for world travel is that you write down the address for some hotel on the form and hand it over. Sometimes, if in a jam, I make up a hotel that takes the name of the city I am going into with “youth hostel” added to the end of it. So if I am going to Barcelona, I write on the address form, “Barcelona youth hostel.” Generally, if no other suspicions are raised, no questions are asked — as these immigration forms are all too often purely formalities.

So, to answer your question, do not worry about giving the address of the language school on the form — you will not be banned from the Schengen region for doing so, you will not be punished.

Asking foreign tourists for addresses on immigration forms is truly an instance where rigid governmental formality usurps common sense and individual intelligence.  If border guards were allowed to think like standard humans, then of course they would know that a foreign traveler does not have an address in Spain, but they are not permitted this liberty: their jobs are to operate as machines, and every line of the forms that they review must contain a response.

In point, it is my impression that you did the only thing that you could, and it is what every traveler needs to do when crossing over so many borders in this world.

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Original question about giving European immigration a false address

Can I be banned from Schengen for giving the wrong address on an immigration form? I was in Spain as part of a study-abroad program and took a weekend trip to Morocco. Upon my return, I realized that I didn’t have the address I was staying at with me and the immigration officer would not let me in with that part of my passport blank, so I used the only address I had – that of my language school. I have since been able to enter the UK and have an American passport.

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Filed under: Border Crossing, Europe, Travel Help

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 3053 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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