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

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 [...]

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

—————–

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.
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 88 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3413 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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17 comments… add one

Leave a Comment

  • juliet January 24, 2010, 5:45 pm

    pls I will like to know if irland is in schengen now, if not, can somebody will schengen resident live and work there. Thanks

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    • Wade | Vagabondjourney.com January 28, 2010, 9:08 am

      No, Ireland is not a part of the Schengen region. If you are an EU citizen you can live and work there, but residency is only good for the country it is offered in.

      Link Reply
  • juliet January 24, 2010, 5:54 pm

    I meant with schengen resident not will, pls.

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  • allen April 7, 2010, 6:01 pm

    hi, i’m an america that overstayed in belgium. i left from germany, who noticed it and made a report. do you suppose they’ll let me back in?
    more importantly, i keep seeing the phrase “will be repatriated at your expense”. is this true, strictly speaking? how does that work? do they demand cash from you on the spot to fly you home? what if you don’t have it? what about flying somewhere else besides home after being denied entry? thanks.

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    • Wade | Vagabondjourney.com April 17, 2010, 9:46 pm

      I have not yet heard of a traveler not being allowed back into Europe after overstaying their visa — though it is very possible. I have a coupe confirmed cases of travelers being denied student visas after overstaying though, so I suppose this means that your records are available across the region.

      As far as repatriation goes, if you refuse to pay they will more than likely make you go home. Though if you buy your own ticket you may be allowed to go on to another country. Though each case that I have been notified of that involved repatriation or deportation the subject WAS sent back to there home country.

      Hope this helps.

      Walk Slow,

      Wade

      Link Reply
  • Imogen December 21, 2010, 3:31 am

    Just wanted to add a note to Wade’s info on the SIS…

    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

    This system doesn’t store any information about arrivals/departures into/out of the Schengen area. It is used only for creating alerts on criminals etc. The second generation SIS (not yet out, and it could be a while, as there are plenty of technical hold-ups) will track alerts on anyone who has been denied entry into the Schengen area, or denied the right to stay in the Schengen area. This is closer to the scanning tracker we all imagine the SIS to be, but is still along way from being an immigration tool.

    In short, the SIS is for the use of cops, not immigration officials.

    The only information is will give is either a green light: Your passport is not reported lost/stolen and you are not listed as a criminal (various categories for this)

    or a red light: one of those things above.

    The only information the chip on your passport holds is your name, address, gender, nationality and other identifying details. It DOES NOT have travel info.

    More info on the current and upcoming SIS here: http://europa.eu/legislation_summaries/justice_freedom_security/free_movement_of_persons_asylum_immigration/l14544_en.htm

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  • KESHI February 17, 2011, 11:43 am

    Hello,

    Anybody knw,about germany ban remove
    i was in Germany illegal 8 years then police deport me my country, before 2 years nw i had apply Schegen Visa, but Germany refering to Ban to schegen Zone, i don’t knw how many years i can’t travel europe? and is possible appeal to remove my ban or not, please give me idea,

    Thank you
    keshi

    Link Reply
    • Wade | Vagabondjourney.com February 21, 2011, 9:34 am

      I have never received a report of someone successfully having the ban removed. Typically, the ban for an overstay is for 3 years. But, as you were formally deported, it may be different for you. Reports have come into this site for bans of up to 10 years.

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    • Kv November 8, 2012, 4:47 pm

      Hi there Keshi,

      Have you tried appealing to Germany to get your ban removed? Any tips on how you went about it? I’m in the same situation and any help would be greatly appreciated.

      Thanks,
      Kv

      Link Reply
  • humberto March 11, 2011, 4:42 am

    My name is Humberto, I am a Brazilian. Some time ago i stayed in Holland 2 weeks more than allowed 3 months. When I was leaving the country in the airport the immigration official said that he would make a report about it.
    After this I went to Brazil and then returned to Holland through France without any problem at the border.
    After that I went to Moscow, When i went back to Holland through Chech republic I was denied the entry to Europe and was told that my name was in SIS. I had to return to Moscow.
    In Moscow I went to the Dutch embassy and they told me that there were no problems with my name and they didn’t know what to do.
    My sister was in the police in Holland and was said that the police had no record of my name and had no claims to me.
    Where can I go or whom I can contact to find out when my name was put into the SIS and how should i proceed if I want my name to be taken out of the SIS?
    How can I go back to Europe now?
    Thank you in advance!

    Link Reply
    • Wade | Vagabondjourney.com March 11, 2011, 9:50 am

      The SIS is a mess. As you have found, not even the authorities seem to know how to really interpret or use it. Basically, since you have already been caught overstaying and then denied entry to the region via the Czech Republic, it is my interpretation that you were probably given a three year ban from the region (it is difficult to find out if you did or not). These bans are often very inconsistently enforced: sometimes you are able to re-enter and other times you are denied, some countries seem to have access to your immigration records while others say they do not. Officially, it is my impression that the only way to get out of the SIS is to wait three years until your ban is up and hope. Some people that have reported here have hired lawyers, but nobody seemed to have gotten anywhere with this.

      If you are bent on returning to the Schengen zone RIGHT NOW, I would recommend getting a direct flight to the Netherlands. There should be some available from Moscow. But, keep in mind, that you can get denied just as easily from there as anywhere else.

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  • Aleatoire13 August 6, 2011, 8:14 am

    Dear Wade,

    I have recently decided to replace my mutilated passport (still have old one as it is soon to be cancelled via hole punch when I pick up the new one) because of the delays it causes in not scanning and the strange looks from customs agents asking me “they really let you fly with this???”

    I am in Europe now for a 90 day period and registered with my host’s municipality as staying there. I have a declaration of arrival paper linked to my old passport which authorizes my stay and has my date of arrival.

    With the new passport I know there will be a new number, so with this:

    1. Will I need to get a new updated declaration with the new passport number on it from my commune for the rest of my stay?

    2. Can I get a stamp in the new passport to reflect my entry for this period, if so where?

    3. Or is it just possible to travel back to the US with a blank passport?

    I appreciate any advice.

    Link Reply
  • DrTravel October 21, 2012, 5:35 pm

    Dear Wade,

    First of all thanks for all the advice. I haven’t found the answer to my questions in (most) of the above posts, I’d really appreciate your help.
    I’m a physician from Chile who came to Spain to get a masters degree. The thing is that since the program lasts 3 months, the Spanish consulate wouldn’t give me a student visa because I could come with a tourist visa…so I did (I entered Europe through France) but I will overstay for 3 weeks to do some traveling and visiting relatives. Before I leave Europe I will travel within the Schengen zone (from Spain to Italy and then back to Chile from France. My flight back is Rome-Paris-Santiago). Will I have any problems when leaving Spain to Italy? At that time my wife and kids would have joined me (they will be 100% legal since they came to Europe later) and I don’t want them to end up traveling by themselves because I got retained, sent back to Chile or anything like it.

    Your advise will ease my stress!!
    Thanx.

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    • Wade Shepard October 21, 2012, 8:29 pm

      You probably won’t be detained, but you may be banned from reentering Schengen Europe for the next three to five years.

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  • Mithun November 8, 2013, 11:36 am

    Hi Wade, Thanks for the information so far. My problem is something I had though would be common, but I haven’t found any help on the internet so far. I am an Indian passport holder and am in Brussels on a Schengen visa (3 month stay). I got here on 11 Sep 2013, and will leave on 9 Dec less than the 90 days I am allowed.
    I lost my passport while travelling in Switzerland. I got a new passport issued by the Indian embassy, but havent managed to figure out how I can get the visa stamped on my new passport. Can I travel within the Schengen area with a photocopy of my old visa, passport, police report, and other documents establishing my identity? Or am I better off not crossing any internal borders within the Schengen zone?
    Thank you in advance for your help!

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  • Anonymous coward January 23, 2014, 7:55 am

    As far as I know, Imogen is correct about the SIS not containing records of arrivals and departure to and from the Schengen area.

    BUT:
    – There are national databases of entries and exits that are not (yet?) shared across the Schengen area so people might get caught that way.
    – If you don’t have an entry stamp or a way to prove you did not overstay, immigration officials can assume you did overstay (it explicitly says so in the relevant rules and regulations).
    – If you are caught overstaying, they can presumably add an alert in the SIS (the text mentions deportation, not merely overstay or denied entry but it seems that some countries do add alerts for overstay as well).
    – Unrelated to entry per se, if you need a visa, there is a separate database (the VIS) that might also contain information about previous visas/refusals.

    In principle, if there is an alert, other countries have to enforce it and only the country that added it can remove it. People also have a right to ask about alerts about them to national data protection authorities.

    Where things get really messy, is that some countries add alerts much more liberally than other. So the problem might not so much be whether or not border guards will overlook an alert next time you show up at the border but whether they bothered putting an alert in the first place.

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