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Germany Border Crossing

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 [...]

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.

Submit information about crossing the border to and from Germany below.

Filed under: Border Crossing, Germany

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 Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3411 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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Wade Shepard is currently in: Rochester, New York

8 comments… add one

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  • Sid December 8, 2010, 3:33 am

    How do I travel from Germany to Italy without having my passport/visa checked?

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    • Wade | Vagabondjourney.com January 22, 2011, 10:33 pm

      Just take a road that goes over the border. The immigration check points have long been closed.

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  • Wade | Vagabondjourney.com December 8, 2010, 4:12 am

    Technically, there is no immigration checkpoints at the borders between Germany, Switzerland, Austria, or Italy, as they are all countries in the Schengen zone. Though, in actuality, German police sometimes do check the identification of travelers passing through this region. I have received some reports of travelers who have overstayed their visas in Germany being busted trying to over the Alps to Italy.

    My only advice is to try to duck any police that you see checking IDs anywhere en route to Italy. Once you are over the border, the Italians seem to be a little less vigilant in regards to immigration.

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  • Sid January 22, 2011, 10:31 pm

    Wade,

    Thank you so much for answering my question. I will be returning to the site and will be leaving a contribution for both that question and for another one I now have.

    My friend will have to return to her home country. So, I’m wondering how best to do that given her visa has been expired now for a good while. She is in Germany and we’re fearfuful how she might be treated by German immigration or whomever she will have to turn herself into for her returen. We were thinking maybe she should exit through another country perhaps……say Holland? or another perhaps that have a reputatin for not mistreating people in this position/with an expired visa looking to return home.

    We are feeling kinda desperate here and like I said fearful. I have absolutely no experience in matters such as these and neither does she. Can you give us some advise please.

    Thanks again,

    Sid

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    • Wade | Vagabondjourney.com January 22, 2011, 10:37 pm

      My recommendation would be to travel to Italy or France overland — there should not be any border inspections — and fly out of one of these countries. They seem to be more lax on penalizing overstayers (though, of course, it is still possible). If you fly out of Germany, I doubt that your friend will be mistreated but there is a good chance that she would be hit with a 3 year ban from the Schengen zone and maybe a fine. The Netherlands is not much better of a place to try to exit the Schengen region from after an overstay, as they are nailing overstayers with regular frequency now. So try Italy or France and make sure she takes a flight that does not connect through any other Schengen country.

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  • moka April 11, 2011, 3:13 pm

    Update: I was the one who asked the original question here, and wanted to let you know how things panned out. Obviously, my case is just one case and any number of factors can affect what happens at a border crossing. As I researched and researched trying to make an educated decision, and talked to many friends of friends who had successfully overstayed for a year or years, I realized that it was largely a matter of luck and taste for risk. I ended up overstaying for about two weeks, having spent nearly two months out of the region and re-entered while I still had a few days out of my180 to spend in the region. I really wanted to spend a couple more months, but thought that I’d be more likely to be examined closely if I did. I flew out of Rome and was checked at the airport in Munich. I made a point to not look scuzzy and to try and make the border control man smile. Not sure if that made a difference, but he didn’t really question me or study my passport too carefully and sent me on my way. I was checked once more (plus another bag scan) going into the actual gate, I believe an extra precaution required by us paranoid Americans. Who knows if I could have gotten away with staying longer…I say we petition these ridiculous laws so we won’t have to worry so much about sneaking around for doing nothing but buying souvenirs, expensive museums passes and a little free volunteering. Anyway, thanks for doing your thing, Wade!

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    • Wade | Vagabondjourney.com April 11, 2011, 3:23 pm

      Thanks so much for this update. Man, it is difficult responding to these questions as the overstay laws are applied with such irregularity. I must say though that your tactics must have been pretty good as so many people get busted going through German immigration after an overstay — Good going! Glad to hear that you made it through alright.

      Yes, there definitely needs to be some petitioning of the Schengen immigration policies. I mean, 90 days for 25 (and counting) countries is a joke. But I am afraid that the petitioning would probably need to be done by the business owners and individual governments within the region who are losing thousands of dollars because tourists are forced to leave the region long before they would otherwise. The sad part is that it is my impression that many Europeans have no idea how stringent their immigration policy is. I mean, even in the USA a European can get 90 days pretty much on arrival and then they only need to leave North America for a few days and return for another 90 days. Foreign tourists just leave money in their wake, they rarely sponge off public resources, and they keep certain sectors of major economies thriving. Too bad that Europe is missing the benefits of longer term tourists.

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  • Jenny February 17, 2012, 11:53 am

    Hi Wade,
    I just stumbled across your website whilst researching that annoying topic of wanting to stay longer than 90 days within the 180 day period. I am an Australian passport holder wanting to spend 4 1/2 months in Germany mainly visiting family ( not eligible for a European passport) but other countries as well. I have been told I can apply at the foreigners office in Munich to apply to apply for a long stay Holiday visa once I arrive along with all the necessary paperwork showing I can support myself, letter of invitation from my cousin etc and it can be done. Have you knowledge of this and how long it takes generally? I am hoping to go off travelling a few weeks after arriving in Germany and would need my passport. Not sure if would take the original off me or not at this office? Otherwise if I was to try otherwise to fly into Sweden first and rail down into Germany and rail around Europe and fly out of Spain 4 1/2 months later, how risky is this as I understand from your website that with some countries you would not risk this. I realise that it is all a risk still!

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