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Italy Border Crossing

Border crossing can be a stressful part of traveling, this page is to provide information about crossing the Italy border. If you have ever crossed a border into Italy, submit a record of your experience below. The more information a traveler has, the more prepared they can be. What documents or visas does a traveler [...]

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Border crossing can be a stressful part of traveling, this page is to provide information about crossing the Italy border.

If you have ever crossed a border into Italy, submit a record of your experience below.

The more information a traveler has, the more prepared they can be. What documents or visas does a traveler from your country need to visit Italy? Can you receive a visa to Italy on arrival or do you need to have a visa in advance?

What transportation options does a traveler have after crossing the border into Italy? What is the best way to get to this border? How can you get away from it?

Questions about crossing the Italy Border

Overstayed visa and looking to leave Italy and re-enter

Hello, we are a family of four – Mother Canadian, Father and two kids are US citizens. We are travelling in Europe now and trying to show our kids the world. We arrived in Italy in Sept. 2010 and are still here. We are planning on staying here until the Summer. Which now looks like we are WAY over our stay. We want to return to the Schengen area after a brief stay back home and perhaps go to Spain or France.

We are here in Italy and want to go back to the US for a few weeks and return. We are way over our stay. We are travelling with two children…and we do not know if we could be stopped on our way out – or on our way back in. We were planning on leaving some of our belongings in Italy when we return home – but we are unsure if we will even be allowed to leave. Can we go to jail for what we have done so far? Can the US or Canadian Embassy help us in anyway? Are we at risk for being denied entry into the Schengen region for our bad deeds to this point? Is there a better place to fly out of? Would a direct flight from Italy to the US be a better option? Thanks so much for any help you can offer!

Well, you could be banned and fined on your way out and denied entry on your way back (whether you are caught exiting or not). It is truly hit and miss at this point: some travelers are being busted for even a one day overstay and banned from reentering Schengen Europe for three years while others stay on for years over their visas and have not yet had any problem exiting and entering. But, I warn you, it is my impression that unpunished overstays in Europe will soon be a thing of the past for the entire region — the immigration is getting too tight for this.

I highly recommend a direct flight from Italy to the USA that does not have connections in any other European country. Italy, as of now (Feb. 13, 2011), seems to be one of the lacker countries in the region for punishing visa overstays from travelers with class A passports. But this is no guarantee that you will be overlooked. You may be caught, fined, and your entire family banned from re-entering the Schengen zone for three years (or more).

As for your return to Europe, I highly recommend staying outside of the region for at least 90 to 180 days before attempting a return, as entering any sooner is going to raise suspicion on multiple fronts. The Schengen tourist visa is a 90 days within 180 affair, and additional entries within this period of time from your last exit may provoke the immigration official to count the days you were previously in the region — needless to say, this would not be to your benefit. Also, make sure your return flight to Europe does not connect through Switzerland, the Netherlands, or Germany.

There are also many great places in Europe outside but still near the Schengen zone. You seem to like Italy, so maybe you would find Albania interesting (half the country seems to be working in Italy haha)? Serbia is pretty cool and Croatia is amazing. If you are looking for another highly cultured base near Europe, Istanbul is relatively close by by air and even train. Morocco is amazing too, and easy to take the boat back and forth from Spain. Morocco and Turkey also give 90 day tourist visas on arrival — just the amount of time you need to be out of Schengen Europe.

Returning to Europe via Italy immediately after visa expires

I traveled to europe this summer as a tourist knowing i had 90 days without a visa as us citizen and spent around three weeks touring in various countries-france, norway, netherlands etc from the 26th of july to the twentieth of august. I then came back to new york. I then went back to europe to brussels on october 13th, mistakenly thinking that my 90 days had restarted, and stayed in europe touring until january 11, making it 90 days exactly from my entry in october to my exit in january. only when i came back to the us was i told that the 90 day period starts from my first entry and goes for 180 days. However now i want to travel to italy for a week, and on the one hand my 180 day period from the first entry has expired so i have another 90, but on the other, i overstayed by alott this past trip. Will I be denied entry to Italy?

I highly recommend that you stay out of the region for 90 days after your previous exit. The visa is good for 90 within 180 days, but it is not my impression that you can go right back after the first 180 day period is up. Treat this situation as if your previous entry that you stayed for the full 90 days was your first, and stay out until April before returning.

Thanks for the answer-i also called the italian embassy btw, and they told me that its ok to go back as soon as the 180 day period from the first entry is up. Would you agree?

It doesn’t matter too much if I agree, it is whether the immigration official who checks you in agrees haha.

It is my impression that you can only be in the Schengen zone for 90 out of 180 days. But there is another way of looking at it where the visa is good for 180 days of which you can stay in for 90 days, and when this visa is up you can get another 180 day visa back to back.

If this was a clear case of having a very visible and marked visa that has your previous two entries logged on it, then I would say that the back to back thing is alright. But as the Schengen tourist visa consists of just an entry stamp for US citizens (the same stamp for a new 180 days as it is for a reentry on the same visa), this may be real hard to explain to immigration.

“But the first and second entries go together and this is entry is for a fresh visa.”

There are grey areas to this visa, and everyone seems to have their own interpretation. The one that matters is that of the immigration official who reviews your entry. Who knows what this will be? Sometimes they don’t give a shit, sometimes they break out the calculator.

You will probably be fine to reenter, but this is not definite.

I usually tell readers 90 out of any 180 days to be safe.

For more information on traveling in Italy, visit the Italy Travel Guide.

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


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Filed under: Border Crossing, Italy

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 91 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3723 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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VBJ is currently in: New York City

7 comments… add one

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  • Amy December 30, 2010, 6:39 pm

    Hello Wade, I am wondering if you can tell me when, exactly, a passport is scanned when entering and leaving the Schengen zone? I am American, and overstayed my visa in Italy by 2 months. Unfortunately, I was not clued in and when I left Italy for the USA last week, I connected through Switzerland and was caught right away. I was told I would receive a letter telling me if/how long I would be banned. However, I have a job in Italy and my fiance lives there…and when I left I did intend on trying to return in the beginning of January. My question is this: Is it worth flying directly into Rome and chancing that I might be able to skate through passport control (I am ordering a new passport here in the States as to not have any stamps give me away). Or will my passport be scanned upon entry and immediately give me away? I am willing to take some risk here, but only if there is a chance I might pull it off. Thanks and I apprecaite any advice! Amy

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    • Wade | Vagabondjourney.com December 30, 2010, 7:13 pm

      The passport is scanned at the entry and exit ports of the Schengen zone. How much information that an immigration official can get from a simple scan is up for debate: many people say that they don’t get much other than your name and passport details, while the experience of others say that they can identify you easily as a previous overstayer and that you are essentially “flagged.” Getting a new passport may help, but I have received reports from others who have done this and were still caught — your name and other details will be exactly the same on the new passport, the only thing that changes is the passport number, dates of validity, and perhaps where you applied for it.

      So there is a chance that you can be nabbed at the Schengen border and deported. But, if you go directly to Italy — a country that is currently notoriously lax on Schengen immigration policy — the chances of this happening are not too great. Many visa overstayers return to Europe before the period of their ban is up, but, if you read through the Travel Help and European visa pages, many people are also caught.

      This truly is a potshot, but the price of being caught is generally only the plane ticket.

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  • dave January 6, 2011, 3:18 pm

    Hi Wade.
    Can you cross a road border from france to Italy without showing your passport? (I am a British (EU) citizen)
    Thanks Dave

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    • Wade | Vagabondjourney.com January 6, 2011, 4:22 pm

      Yup, it is standard operating procedure for there to be no immigration controls when crossing borders between Schengen countries. The border posts are now broken down, abandoned, and decrepit. Anyway, being a British citizen, you are one click from being home in the Schengen zone anyway.

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  • Benjamin Hyde April 11, 2012, 2:06 am

    I have a question , I am from south west Asia ( non-EU ) and looking forward to go to Italy on vacation . Can I go or fly across the Italy , if I get the tourist visa of Italy ? TY.

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  • John S October 29, 2013, 3:01 pm

    I am in Italy and just realized I mistakenly overstayed the 90-days of my visa. Which border post would be the most lax and least likely to notice: the airport in Rome (direct flight to US) or a boat to Tunisia or some other option (i.e. train maybe) to a non-Schengen country? Please advise urgently. Thanks!

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  • dawn November 5, 2013, 8:27 am

    Do you have any info about travel from Italy to US with Permesso motivi di familiare receipt from local Questura and overstay? Details too long (can give if needed) but were blocked several times by paperwork, filing problems of marriage cert. etc to cause overstay. Overstay no problem with Questura when everything finally filed correctly, however am concerned of penalties when leaving to go back to the US. Questura emphasized travel only through Italy and no connections with receipt but no restriction to travel. Want to be prepared as my daughters will be with me (husband staying back in Italy-preparing to file overseas for spouse greencard and return). If there is an interrogation and fine, etc. I can handle this. Want only my daughters to not be so intimidated and prepare them; also wondering if interrogation is usually long. Any knowledge, links or help is appreciated. Thank you.

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