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Overstayed Visa in Hungary – How to Exit Europe?

Q: How to exit the Schengen zone after overstaying a tourist visa in Hungary? A: Hello, 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 [...]

Q: How to exit the Schengen zone after overstaying a tourist visa in Hungary?

A:

Hello,

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.

How to exit Hungary after overstaying visa?

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.

For more information visit Schengen Visa Questions.

Please let us know what happens in a comment below.

Thanks!

Walk Slow,

Wade

———————–
Original question about how to exit Europe after overstaying a tourist visa in Hungary

Dear Wade,

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.

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, Hungary, 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 3443 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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13 comments… add one

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  • Silly Canadian November 22, 2010, 9:53 am

    Hello Wade,

    Thanks for your advice. I’m writing you from Canada, after having left Hungary through Paris (CDG) with no problems at all. I had to sweat a little bit while standing in a line of 100 people in front of the immigration officer in Paris, but in the end he just glanced at my passport, asked me what city I live in, and moved me along. There were no problems in Hungary (internal-schengen travel) they only looked at my boarding pass.

    From what I understand, I should wait 90 days before heading back to Europe. However, if I stayed over 90 days (for example 120 days) do I have to wait longer outside of Europe or is 90 enough no matter what? :]

    Thanks for your help! Not a pleasant experience.

    x

    Link Reply
    • Wade | Vagabondjourney.com November 24, 2010, 11:48 am

      Hello,

      This is really good to hear. No, I don’t think that you will need to stay out of the region for over 90 days before returning. Though follow the rule of not going through Germany or Switzerland upon re-entry, as they could still notice the overstay and refuse you entry.

      Thanks for letting us know what happened, this really helps.

      Link Reply
  • Silly Canadian #2 November 28, 2010, 11:12 am

    Hi Wade,

    I have a very similar situation! I am traveling with my Canadian passport and I arrived in the EU through Amsterdam on the 24th of August, 2010. I wanted to travel for a bit after college and I have been traveling around the EU ever since. Having a marvelous time! I realized on Friday that I was ONE DAY over the 90 day limit. Don’t ask me how or why I forgot, I have no idea either…

    Before all of this, I stupidly booked a ticket out of the EU to the Philippines in the end of January because I wanted to spend the New Year in Madrid! …It flies out of Amsterdam as well..

    At this moment I am officially four days overstayed and a bit worried.

    I don’t know what to do, should I attempt to overstay until January since I have already overstayed? or is that way too risky when I attempt to leave Amsterdam? The entry stamp is quite visible on my passport. Are they very strict upon leaving the Netherlands?

    I was thinking of calling the Canadian Embassy here and ask for their advice or whether I can get a month stay extension just until my flight leaves but I doubt extensions are even given!

    Help!

    Silly Canadian

    Link Reply
    • Wade | Vagabondjourney.com November 29, 2010, 9:14 am

      From the reports that I receive, foreigners who overstay their Schengen visa by one day are given as much of a penalty as those who overstay for a year — the length of the overstay does not really seem to be a factor, although it is my impression that a long overstay may make you a little more “visible” when exiting the region. Again, from what other travelers have reported, the Netherlands seems to be one of the more moderate countries as far as persecuting overstayers: they will punish you but not with the iron clad efficiency of Germany or Switzerland.

      Link Reply
  • Traveler December 10, 2010, 1:01 pm

    Whoa Wade. The ever popular topic.
    I’m still in Schengen, still haven’t got really the cash or the way out yet… but am thinking hard about the possibilities by sea. Have you ever chanced it trying to hitch on a freight ship? I don’t mean the kind where they sell cabins over the internet… too expensive… I mean showing up in a port and finding a captain. Any advice?

    Link Reply
    • oliradke December 14, 2010, 3:19 am

      Hello Wade,

      I find myself in the same situation as (apparently) a lot of others– overstayed Schengen visa, looking for a discreet escape route. I am wondering if you know anything about Iceland and their enforcement of Schengen policy? (I am american, overstayed by 4 months). From what I have gathered, I should avoid Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the UK. Any clue about Reykavik?

      Slowing down,
      Olivia

      Link Reply
      • Wade | Vagabondjourney.com December 14, 2010, 10:04 am

        Iceland seems a little extreme — unless you really want to go there. Typically, France or Italy are more popular choices. I have not yet received a report of people trying to exit the region through Iceland, so I can’t tell you how stringent their immigration is.

        Link Reply
      • Traveler December 15, 2010, 2:38 pm

        Trouble with Iceland is you have to fly there, and fly out, unless you’re thinking of catching a fishing boat to Greenland. Let us know how it works out if you try it, though.

        Link Reply
  • oliradke December 14, 2010, 12:53 pm

    Direct flights out of Paris (and I imagine Italy as well) to the USA are extraordinarily expensive. Shockingly, Reykavik to NYC is not. Indirect flights (from paris or barcelona) route me through Geneva and Dublin; hence the dilemma. I may risk Iceland…I will let you know how it goes…

    Thanks for the input.

    Link Reply
  • Cierra March 23, 2012, 2:40 pm

    Hello everybody,
    I am American, my name is Cierra, and I’m 19 years old. I have been in Belgium on a 3 month visitors visa since oct. So about 153 days. So after reading all of this, I am trying to decide whether I should travel to Serbia or Rhomania to then exit through England, or if I should exit through Italy or France. Either way, I will dress nice and try and stay confident! My girlfriend of 3 years lives here and we have been traveling back and forth ever since. This time I couldn’t bare to leave her.. She was hospitalizes a while ago. Anyway, I would like to know happened with you, Olivia? Did you make it ok? I would really love to go to school here next year so not getting caught leaving is very important to me. I’m going to try and sign up at a University here illegally, go back home, do the visa stuff and return. If anyone knows where I can find any more inforation on the best way I returning to America, it would be so great for me.

    Much appreciation,
    Cierra

    And good luck to everyone else in my situation. My heart goes out to you guys:)

    Link Reply
  • dani August 31, 2012, 6:11 am

    hello,
    i ve been overstaying visas, a lot,
    i ve had problems last year4,
    made mistake of going out frankfurt airport,.
    i will try again soon, hoe train to croatia is better,
    anyone tried leaving by train thru slovenia to zagreb?
    thanx for suport,
    dani

    Link Reply
    • Wade Shepard August 31, 2012, 6:15 am

      Many get busted at that border.

      Link Reply
  • Adrian Paras November 10, 2012, 8:18 pm

    Hi Wade,

    I really hope you can answer some of my questions.

    I’m taveling with a USA passport. I overstayed in Schengen Area. I’ve been 5 months total in the Schengen Area. I’m in Hungary at the moment working at a hostel. I plan to stay here until February 1st, then go to Spain with my girlfriend and stay there until April 15 2013, making a total stay in the Schengen Area of 10 months.

    I was thinking of getting a working visa now that I’m in Hungary. I was thinking of asking the hostel owner to write a letter saying she’s giving me accommodation, a salary and also submit the other requirements (health insurance, payment, bank statement, form filled) to the Immigration Office.
    It seems that I have everything that its needed for this Working Visa, BUT I already overstayed. Do you think they will reject my application or do you think I would even when in trouble as soon as they see my overstay in the passport? Can I process this Visa even when I already overstay?

    The other option is getting married! Yes, I met my polish girlfriend during my trip and she’s willing to help me with this nightmare. If we do get married, it would be in Spain but I would like to keep this option as a last resort. Plus, I don’t know if I’m able to have 3 citizenship since I have Mexican and American citizenships already.

    Please, help! This has become a nightmare and your knowledge would really help me. I was very stupid not to check all this before the 3 months but I can’t go back now. Now, I have to find a solution.

    Thank you,

    Adrian

    Link Reply