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Penalties and Fines for Overstaying Shengen Visa

What do would recommend as the path of least resistance to avoid attracting the attention of Shengen-vigilant authorities ? Hello G, I really appreciate you sharing this story with me about how your fiance and her son were charged around $550 each for overstaying their Schengen visa by two months in Switzerland. This information is [...]

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What do would recommend as the path of least resistance to avoid attracting the attention of Shengen-vigilant authorities ?

Hello G,

Schengen visa is a brick wall to European travel

I really appreciate you sharing this story with me about how your fiance and her son were charged around $550 each for overstaying their Schengen visa by two months in Switzerland. This information is good, and should be passed on to other travelers.

I understand that you would love your fiance to return to Switzerland to be with you before the marriage, but if she has not yet been out of the Schengen zone for 90 days, I would not even consider it for a second. For one thing, there is a good chance that she will not be allowed in, as she would, essentially, be trying to overstay the same visa a second time, even after she was punished for it the first time (as you need to be out of the Schengen zone for 90 days for every 90 days you spend in it).

Another thing is that if she was officially denied entry to the Schengen region or caught overstaying a second time, this could have a drastic effect on her getting the appropriate visa/ citizenship after you are married.

My advice is to not risk it.

If your fiance has been out of the Schengen region for more than three months, I think that she should be able to re-enter without much difficulty. Though it is my impression that the path of least resistance would be to re-enter the Schengen zone through one of the relatively recently inducted states in the east of Europe. The Czech Republic seems like a good place for this, as they tend to not have the tendency of being very vigilant (though you never know!).

No country really likes people who overstay their visas, and once you are marked as a visa overstayer, you may have a difficult time entering any country that can tell that you once overstayed your time in the Schengen zone (such as the UK/ Ireland). My recommendation to your fiance is that, if she ever wants to obtain the European travel privileges that should come from marrying you, to never violate another visa, anywhere, EVER AGAIN.

Actual policy in regards to carrying out punishment for overstayers of the Schengen visa is a really hit and miss endeavor. You can never really tell when and where you are going to be caught and punished. Your fiance was hit once, I highly recommend that she plays by the rules and does not get caught again. Getting nailed a second time could carry with it an extensive ban from Europe.

It is my impression that the Schengen immigration authorities are getting far stricter, and this is only going to increase in the future. A few years ago it would have been unheard of for a Canadian to be fined $500 for only overstaying their visa by a couple of months, but now it is beginning to happen regularly.

My advice is to abide by the rules. There is no sure fire way around the Schengen visa restrictions, as the proof about when you enter/ exit the region will be in your passport and, more than likely, in the Schengen computer system. The Schengen immigration authorities may not always be 100% vigilent, but there is no safe way around them.

One possible suggestion that I have is that, if your fiance has not yet been out of the Schengen region for 90 days, it may be a good idea to meet up in a third country — such as in the Balkans, Morocco, or Turkey — for a vacation and have her wait out the time there. It is somewhat cheap and quick to travel from Switzerland to Croatia.

Though I highly recommend that if your fiance really wants to become an EU citizen, or at least to have the travel privileges that should be inherent to marrying someone from Europe, to be very careful about abiding by the rules of her visa.

More information on overstaying the Schengen visa

I hope this helps.

Thank you very much for your donation to Vagabond Journey Travel Help.

Walk Slow,


Original question about avoiding Schengen penalties?

My Canadian fiancée has been flying under the radar in Europe for about 5 months, but was caught overstaying her Shengen welcome by 2 months when flying from Zurich airport to Canada. She and her son were allowed to leave but have been fined 600 CHF each.
She would like to return to Europe, and the Shengen area, while waiting for the marriage.
What do would recommend as the path of least resistance to avoid attracting the attention of Shengen-vigilant authorities ?

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, Schengen Visas, Travel Help, Visas

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 3703 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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145 comments… add one

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  • Gradders September 23, 2009, 2:12 pm

    Hi Wade,
    Your advice was spot-on!
    The Schengen area has become very vigilant in controlling who enters the area.
    My fiancée is now in the UK, waiting for the 90 day exclusion requirement to expire. We will have to ask the Swiss authorities to clear whatever kind of “flag” is on her passport before she tries to reenter Schengen.
    One comment about your musing that restrictions will be come more strict in the future: this has already happened. I now fly regularly from Geneva to the UK, and the passport controls are by far more stringent than I have seen in the past. It now seems like there is a “Fortress Schengen” in Europe.
    As you say, it is true that there is a sentiment amongst affluent westerners that they have some kind of “right” to go and stay wherever they want for as long as they want, but with Schengen, this is definitely not possible.
    We’re now playing it by the book.
    Cheers (walking slowly),

    Link Reply
    • John November 10, 2009, 5:32 pm

      Gerald – do you mean to say that your fiancée went from switzerland to UK after overstaying her schengen in switzerland?


      Link Reply
      • Gradders December 13, 2009, 5:44 pm

        Hi John,
        Yes, my fiancée did go to the UK after she overstayed her Schengen visa. The UK border control agency made it very clear to her that she should not try to enter the Schengen area without resolving the issue with the Swiss authorities. At the moment, we have found it very difficult to determine the nature and consequences of her having overstayed her alotted time.
        Will will shortly be asking for details of what, exactly are the details of her problem in the Schengen Information System invoking the right of “Data Protection” to know what data they have.
        I will post the results here when I have them.

        Link Reply
        • ihsiro January 10, 2013, 1:42 pm

          dear Gradders,
          1) can please tell what home country /origin your fiance from?
          2) UK and Switzerland are like same EU Eco Zone Special Agreement membership in Schengen , Do you mean once a person overstayed his/her Schengen would only be banned in that specific country where he /she committed it and, would have no affect to other EU country to enter or travel?
          3) Have you any idea what the Swiss immigration from the airport upon exit /leaving Switzerland/departure of your fiance did /told her upon seeing /discovered her overstaying? Would appreciate if you kindly send me reply for an answer to above questions.

          P.S. Wade Shepard what is your comment too?

          Cheers in behalf of a friend.

          Link Reply
  • Aron December 10, 2009, 10:31 am

    My situation is this: I was born in Mexico but I’m also a Romanian citizen. My wife is Mexican. We want to travel Europe next year and we definitely want to be there way more than 3 months. I know I have no problem, but, does being my wife is any good at all to her? Does it give her some kind of “overstaying rights” within the Schengen area?
    What’s your advice?


    Link Reply
  • Gradders February 4, 2010, 4:23 pm

    Hi Wade,
    We are now married and have received permission for my wife to be in Switzerland with me during the process of applying and acquiring her residence permit.
    It has been a long, arduous haul visiting every weekend her while she was in the UK, but that is now at an end.
    I should now point out my observations about leaving/entering the Schengen area – it is very likely that one’s passport will be scanned at any port of entry/exit – my new wife was allowed to enter Switzerland because she was, according to Swiss law “effectively resident” – but the border guys did have to deliberate, and we spent some time in that little room reserved for “dodgy immigrants” – and after letting my wife enter Switzerland we were advised to contact the pertinent authority to have the Schengen “alert” removed.
    I have just donated 50$ to your enterprise for it’s merit and to support your unchained lifestyle, and wish you all the best with your vagabond wanderings. If you’re ever in Switz. , let me know.

    Link Reply
    • Wade | Vagabondjourney.com February 6, 2010, 11:55 am

      Hello Gerald,

      This is a really wonderful story. Thank you so much for sharing it. I am pleased that I could have helped out in some capacity. Thank you also for the donation, it is really appreciated.

      If you ever have another question please do not hesitate to ask, and the next time we come through Europe we will surely send you an email.

      Thanks and Walk Slow,


      Link Reply
    • ihsiro January 10, 2013, 8:33 pm

      Hello Gradders,
      Your new wife’s case somewhat have similarity to a friend, can you tell what country of origin she’s from or if you don’t mind or is she from Non EU or British Citizen?

      Thanks in advance.

      Link Reply
  • john March 26, 2010, 6:32 am

    hi wade
    my wife and my son(1 yr old) are overstaying in france for more than 5 months; her father s a french citizen and her family members are living. but now she decided to come out of the country and to join in united states. so wat penalty or procedures he will face… expecting your reply..

    thank you

    Link Reply
  • Maggie September 14, 2010, 5:43 pm


    I am in a similar situiation to Gerald. I am from Canada and was caught overstaying on my Schengen. I was wondering who I contact within the Swiss authorities to remove the “alert” on my passport?

    Any help is much apprechiated!!

    Link Reply
  • Michelle November 7, 2010, 10:06 am


    I have a very tricky situation at the moment.
    I am from Malaysia and I entered the schengen area from Amsterdam on 4th of July 2010. This is my second time in europe but the first time I was only here for 14 days. This time, I was planning for a longer period of time.
    i have no idea about the 90/180 rule as I just came back from spain and they checked my visa and they gave me a go on my visa, it was 29th of october 2010. I only found out about the 90/180 rule when my b/f proposed to me and we are planning to get married. He just taken a job in Spain and I will be going with him. His job is only for a 6-7 months not entirely a residence.
    My boyfriend is a German and I am currently in Germany. Is there any way of having an extension? Can I get married in Denmark instead? since it would be easier or will the overstay issue will become an obstacle in getting married in Denmark?
    next option is if we were to fly back to Malaysia now and get married in Malaysia? Will I be ban to get into the schengen area and hence not being able to join him in Spain in January?
    I seriously need some advice here as to how to go about the situation.

    Link Reply
    • Wade | Vagabondjourney.com November 9, 2010, 10:15 am

      I would recommend applying for a fiance visa, but as you have already overstayed, I am not sure if it would be accepted — especially in Germany, one of the strictest countries in the region. If you want to get married in Europe, I would check the laws and try to do so from within the region now. It seems as if you could travel to Spain though without problems, and try to get married there, but the overstay issue will probably be a problem no matter where you want to get married — and there is a good chance that you may face a ban.

      Going back to Malaysia to be married may be the best option, and then try to re-enter Europe legally with a prearranged spouse residency visa.

      Link Reply
  • Zain November 23, 2010, 7:06 am


    Please can someone help meme confirm this, i have a swiss business valid for a duration of 1 year. on the visa is says professional 120days over 12 months.

    There is another law that says i can only work for 90days in a 6 month period, which i did not know and overstayed by 15 days, still under the 120limit, i had to pay a fine for this.

    My question is, when i go back to Zurich in January, how long an i able to stay for?
    The passport control guys said i can come up for another 90days, over the next 6months, and because i paid the fine its ok.

    Can anyone confirm that i can use my same visa which is still valid for another 6months and stay for 90 days even though i have used up 105 days already in the first 6months of my 1 year visa?


    Link Reply
    • Wade | Vagabondjourney.com November 24, 2010, 11:45 am

      Hello Zain,

      This is confusing. I have answered hundreds of questions about the Schengen visa, have heard hundreds of stories, and have conducted countless hours of research about this, but your case even has me confused.

      If you received a business visa that is good for 120 days within 12 months, then I would think that it should be good for 120 days, no matter if you split them up or stay for the full term with consecutive days. The fact that you were told that your 120 day out of one year professional visa is only really good for 90 out of 180 does not seem right to me. Often, a standard Schengen visa is also sort of a business visa — good for 90 out of 180 days — but you seemed to have had a 120 day business visa, which is different.

      Non-EEA nationals may be granted a short-term permit which allows them either to
      reside and work in Switzerland for a maximum of 120 consecutive days or in several
      stays of variable length up to an aggregate maximum of 120 calendar days in a given
      calendar year without taking up residence.The 120 days permit is not subject to a quota.

      I found this at http://digitalcommons.ilr.cornell.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1013&context=lawfirms, and it seems to cover the case of the visa you had.

      There is no way that I can tell for sure, but it seems as if the immigration official may have made a mistake, it seems as if you should have been able to stay in Switzerland for 120 consecutive days. It is a sad state of affairs in the Schengen zone, as few people — even the authorities — seem to even know what the rules are.

      To answer your question, it seems to me as if you are within one year from the time you first entered the Schengen zone on your visa, you should still have 15 days left. Though I would recommend just trying to get a normal tourist visa upon arrival for 90 days. Hopefully, they did not process you as a visa overstayer and applied a ban on your entry.

      The only way to tell is to just return and find out what happens.

      Link Reply
  • Brenda December 21, 2010, 8:44 pm

    Hi Wade!

    I am not sure if I have a problem or not. I am a US citizen and 2 years ago I flew to Sweden to stay 3 months with my Swedish husband. After which we were going to return to the USA and do our applications for me to immigrate there. During my stay my (now ex) husband filed for divorce and left me with no access to our money. Illegal as all that was… that was my situation. I had no way at the time to return to the USA (buy a ticket).anyway..in order to be in Sweden and not get blind sided by his legal maneuvers I applied with immigration there. The woman said since it would take a while to apply to stay permanently even though it wasnt my goal because i wouldnt have to leave while i had an open case with immigration. after 9 months everything with the divorce was done and of course immigration said no i cant stay. So I left. No problem. On the way out of the airport in Stockholm, the woman looked at my passport and told me i overstayed. I explained the situation and offered to show her the papers. She said no that if fine. BUT i MAY have trouble reentering Europe. I went on my way. No one fined me, there are no red stamps in my passport etc. Life is much much better now and I would love to visit my dear friends in Europe sometime. Will i have a problem? How would I find out?

    Thanks for your time and knowledge!

    Link Reply
  • Rajesh January 2, 2011, 9:59 am

    Hi Wade,

    I have Schengen Visa which is expiring on 15th January, 2011 and the number of days stay is 31 days. I had come to Spain on 11th December and currently have to travel back on 10th January. But I need to spend another 2-3 weeks and am planning to apply for extension by 5th January. How much time will it take to get the update on the extension and if the extension is denied after 10th January, I would have overstayed the Visa by those many days after 10th January. Will this overstay be a problem when I try to leave from Spain via Amsterdam and will it be a problem when I apply again for the schengen visa.

    Appreciate your knowledge and Help.


    Link Reply
    • Wade | Vagabondjourney.com January 2, 2011, 2:12 pm

      It is possible to receive an extension of sorts while you wait for your application to be processed, but you must check with Spanish immigration about this — they are the ones you should be asking.

      Link Reply
  • Kara January 2, 2011, 3:54 pm

    Hi Wade
    I am a young Australian female of 21 years old. I took one year off my university studies to travel in Europe. I had no specific plan for my travels, as I was going to be spending a lot of it on my own, so didn’t want to be stuck in a plan if something took my interest. I entered Frankfurt on the 17th of February 2010, and only left the schengen once to Turkey, where i stayed for just one week. At the time I didnt realise how serious this Schengen thing was as so many Australians take a year off to travel Europe. I think everyone neglegted to tell me that they onnly spent three in the schengen and the rest somewhere else. I have spent most my time in France, and then Belgium and Holland. I am due to flly back on the 14th of February from Frankfurt, however I have been thinking that maybe it will be better to change my flight to London and try fly out from a country like Czech Republic, as you mentioned this might be a more ‘slack’ country.
    What course would you suggest to either avoid a ban or fine, or atleast get a smaller one than the one I’m sure the German passport controllers will give me.

    Any suggestions would be excellent, I want to come back to Europe within 2 or 5 years, I’m young and have obviously made a stupid mistake.

    Link Reply
    • Wade | Vagabondjourney.com January 2, 2011, 8:27 pm

      Hello Kara,

      Yes, taking flights out of Europe that do not go through Germany, Switzerland, or Holland is a good idea if you want to lessen the chances of being punished for the overstay. Though there is no fool proof way — the Czechs can nail you the same as the Germans, though it seems less likely. This is pretty much all the advice I can give on this. Many people do the same thing as you, so you are not alone and shouldn’t feel too bad.

      Link Reply
    • Ellie March 25, 2011, 9:14 am

      I am currently in the exact same position. I just wanted to know how you exited and what happened as I am feeling very stressed about the whole situation.
      You help would be very much appreciated.

      Link Reply
  • Graham February 14, 2011, 8:45 am


    I just wanted to share my experience with overstaying a schengen visa.

    My girlfriend and I are Canadian and were living in Portugal while she went to school on exchange from Sept to the end of January 2011. She applied for and received a student visa good for 4 months, and I did not apply for any visa (Canadians do not need one for 90 days).

    After both of our visas were expired, we travelled throughout Europe (France, Spain, Italy, Greece, Sweden, Finland) and also Turkey, Egypt, and Morocco. We went through immigrations in Stockholm, Rome, Lisbon, and London Heathrow (twice). We experienced no problems whatsoever.

    If you are Canadian, all the officials will do is see you are from a country that does not require a visa for the schengen area, then stamp your passport and wave you through. They do not care if you are above 90 days. It was very stressful thinking that we might run into trouble at every checkpoint, but I am glad we didn’t let a minor visa overstay affect our travel plans.

    While you definitely should avoid overstaying your visa if you can (individual countries can issue extensions for a national overstay permit) if you find that whoops you’re a couple months over I doubt you will have any problems.


    Link Reply
    • Wade | Vagabondjourney.com February 16, 2011, 9:30 am

      Hello Graham,

      Thanks for sharing your experience, but I must add that MANY Canadians have written in here saying that they were fined and banned for overstaying their Schengen visas. So while you did not get penalized, many from your country have been.

      Link Reply
      • armando April 10, 2012, 5:25 pm

        Hi , I am on a 90 days visa-Free, I already spent in france one month an a half studying french, but I would like to spend another 2 months an a half, so I only need 30 days more. So your comment saids : (individual countries can issue extensions for a national overstay permit)

        Where can i do that in Paris, I have been trying in the police, prefecture, offi and no one can give me information about it. Is really possible that an individual country can make a national overstay permit?

        Please , anyone who knows about it, let me know asap.

        Best Regards

        Link Reply
  • Fee February 23, 2011, 6:58 am

    Hi Wade,

    I overstayed in the Schengen region by a couple of months, I departed from Switzerland and was fined $550.
    I really don’t want to pay the $550. Have you heard of anyone that was able to avoid paying the fine and how? I am a student, and can’t really afford such a large fine. I find it interesting that the Swiss are not part of the EU, but are part of the Schengen group. Did they see it as a good opportunity to make some cash by catching out, unaware backpackers, by policing a poorly publicised visa? There is a reason other countries have been slack to enforce this visa-because it is a slack visa in general and they appreciate the tourists dollar. I don’t think it is a coincidence that such a wealthy nation is the one taking the sneaky hard line approach to this visa. For these reasons I really don’t want to boost their already bulging government bank balance.
    When I booked my overseas adventure I had only heard of the visa from my own research online, when I questioned my travel agent about it, I was told that it was a difficult and expensive visa to obtain,(is this true) and that in their long experience as a travel agent they had only ever had one client obtain the visa, and the agent felt that it was not essential and placed not value or importance on it what so ever.

    Until reading your page I had not heard of anyone else being fined. I think if i flew out from a country other than Switzerland or Germany I would have probably flown under the radar also.

    Is there a reasonable excuse that can be used to avoid paying this fine? Is there any point contacting the Swiss embassy/consulate in Australia (where I am from)? Also please tell me what the consequence will be if I don’t pay the fine. Will I be banned from entering the Schengen region? and for how long?
    And finally, the letter and fine is all in German, which I can not understand. Do you know how/where the fine is supposed to be paid? And whether there is a penalty for not paying the fine within the allocated period?

    Thank you, any info or advice is much appreciated.

    Link Reply
    • Rick May 31, 2011, 4:04 pm

      Anybody have a reply for this one? I am in a similar situation.

      Link Reply
      • Wade | Vagabondjourney.com June 1, 2011, 5:05 am


        Due to vastly too an enormous quantity of questions being asked regarding the Schengen visa, to ensure a response they need to be accompanied by a donation.

        Link Reply
        • Margaret Huffstickler July 16, 2011, 7:51 am

          You wrote:
          “1) No way. We have NEVER heard of ANYONE getting an extension on a tourist visa in the Schengen zone, especially in Germany. But this rumor has been perpetuated before. We even received a couple letters from people who were told by German consulates abroad that they could extend their visa, only to arrive in Germany and find that this was not true. So, unless call and question the German authorities who could grant such an extension first hand, my knowledge says that this is not really a possibility.”

          A few days ago I got a 90 day extension on my Schengen visa — so now you’ve heard of it.

          Not only that, it was very easy and almost immediate. I went to the local office one day, with my host, and presented my application (available on line), proof of health insurance, passport, anmeldung for the address where I’m residing and a passport photo, and the worker there organized it all and told us she would need to send it with my passport to the regional office, which might take a week or more. Since I did not want to wait, my host and I drove up to the regional office the next day with the papers, photo, passport and §60, and within a half hour I had my extension affixed to my passport.

          So it is not just a “rumor”, and it is good for your readers to know that it is possible, and what the requirements are.

          Link Reply
          • Wade Shepard July 16, 2011, 4:54 pm

            So you got an extension on a tourist C visa?

            What do you need a host for? You are not studying or working, correct? You are just a normal tourist?

            Please tell me exactly what the extension stamp or visa says.


            I’ve stopped publically answering visa related questions on this site for this exact reason: immigration policy is ever changing and is a very inconsistent practice. MANY people wrote in saying that they could not extend their tourist visa — some even from Germany. So if you did get an extension on a tourist visa to continue being a tourist, this is big news. Thanks for sharing. When a page is published on the internet people take it to be current information — even if the page is years old. From now on, visa consultation is done on a case by case basis via email in “real time.”

            Link Reply
          • Steve H October 24, 2011, 1:23 am

            Can you provide more details please?

            I am 7 days away from overstaying and want to abide by the rules. I overstayed the 90 days in Europe several times in the 90’s and so I didn’t think it was a big deal, but I should have been smarter. Now I want to do this right.

            Link Reply
  • Peggy March 1, 2011, 12:06 pm

    My daughter went to Italy in Oct. 2010. She stayed and worked at a hostel (work for board and room) Then she traveled the EU for the next 5 months. She bought a ticket to come home 3/2/2011. When leaving Switzerland she was detained; questioned (yelled at) and held for an hours. She was fined $550 and was allowed to leave. Upon entering Gatwick airport (to head home) she was again held; this time for 7 hours. She had all her belongings gone through; they even read her diary. After 7 hours; they just released her. She is currently (right this minute) on a train from Gatwick to Heathrow. She’ll stay overnight (3/1/2011) at a hostel and leave Heathrow on Air Lingus tomorrow morning to head back to the US. My questions is: will she again have problems once she arrives at Heathrow? Can they detain her again?? please advise.

    Link Reply
    • Wade | Vagabondjourney.com March 2, 2011, 8:58 am

      Hello Peggy,

      Yeah, they can detain her again as she tries to exit England, though this is much less likely as when she entered. In point, immigration tends to be stricter on people entering a country than when leaving. I wouldn’t worry too much about it — they really have no business hassling someone who did not break any rules in their country at the gateway out.

      Link Reply
      • ihsiro January 10, 2013, 9:17 pm

        did they really took all your daughter belongings.. some kinda robbing her at advantage…!!!

        Link Reply
  • stephen March 7, 2011, 10:53 am

    Hello to you all! . . . I am an American citizen, and I have overstayed my schengen by four and a half months. I have really tried to obtain a visa legally throughout, but as I have no language, i have no full time work, and therefore; no visa.

    My 2 questions are . . .

    “can I travel from Germany to Spain without a problem?”

    “will they check my passport and do terrible things to me at the airport?”

    I couldn´t find full time work in Germany and I have a job lined up in Spain. I know it is difficult to obtain a visa there, but I have tried to get one here with no luck either. At least there I can save money, and continue my adventure.

    I also have a small comment to make . . . It is a real shame that people can no longer travel freely on this Earth. I simply wish to broaden my world view by living and working overseas. I don´t want to leach the system of anywhere i stay as I am willing to pay my own way throughout. I fell in love with a girl from Europe, and the thought of losing her because of international red tape is wearing on me daily. The stress I feel is unnatural. If this is the plight of immigrants than so be it, but I wish each individual case could be looked at by someone empathetic, and reasonable.
    that is all . . .

    Link Reply
    • Wade | Vagabondjourney.com March 8, 2011, 8:51 am

      You’re dreaming, man. Leave Europe and go somewhere else with your girlfriend is the only advice that I can give. The Schengen region is one of the more rigid immigration zones on the planet. Even the USA is vastly more liberal visitors from Europe to stay there long term. To answer your question, no, there should not be immigration inspections between Germany and Spain but this is not to say their won’t be. Travelers who have overstayed their Schengen visas DO get caught traveling between countries of the zone — even though official border checkpoints have been removed long ago. I would suggest traveling overland.

      Link Reply
      • Simone July 8, 2012, 9:40 pm

        Overland works, but FYI I had my passport checked last month on a train between Italy and France (Turin to Lyon) TWICE,; once by Italian border police and then again by French border police an hour later. And those boys look like soldiers and carry very big guns. Scary as all heck!

        I am Australian and I have overstayed Schengen (no visa is req for Australians, and I’ve just realised that I’ve messed up – my own fault for not checking beforehand, I know, my only defence being that not actually having a physical visa makes it a tiny bit harder to catch the detail, and I thought I could hop back and forth between countries and ‘reset’ the clock.).

        In the interests of sharing experiences, here’s mine:

        I’m Australian, I have a UK residency permit and lived in London for 3 years. I’ve made countless trips back and forth to Europe in this time and on a ski holiday I met my now-fiancé in France.

        In November 2011 I quit my job and came to France, ostensibly to learn French and see how we were going. I knew in had a free 3 month stay and had a trip to Germany for the weekend planned right before the 3 months was up. Much to my horror there was no passport control which meant no stamps. Once I got back to France I started researching and realised my mistake (I thought just leaving France was enough), but by then I was over the 3 months and I was afraid of getting into trouble at the airport/s so I kept procrastinating leaving.

        Now it has been 6 months, but probably longer with all the other holidays I’ve had in the schengen area.

        I have just this week decided to bite the bullet and go back to London and apply for a long sejour visa, which will take 1-4 weeks to process and I was thinking about leaving from Milan, even before reading your blog and comments.

        I wanted to mention out that the border police who checked my passport on the train had very different reactions – the Italian guy was first and it took my a very long time to dig through my backpack to find my passport, and he actually told me not to worry, right as I found it. I gave it to him anyway and he just checked the details page and matched my picture to my face. The French, on the other hand, studied it very very well (heart was firmly in mouth) reading most pages, it seemed. No comment was made and I think that a couple things helped me here:
        1. I’m Australian and like the Canadian guy in a previous comment, I think maybe the lack of an actual visa sticker helps
        2. I have a UK residency permit in my passport (maybe, just maybe, they think that gives me free reign in the schengen area, as the Brits do?)
        3. I have a lot of stamps in my passport and I think sometimes they can’t be bothered finding the most recent ones
        4. Of all of the above, I think it’s mostly about luck of who you get at the little window. You could catch someone on a good day and be very lucky, or get the person who spilled coffee all over himself that morning, right before stepping in dog poo.

        I’m very nervous about leaving now, but I have to so I can apply for the proper visa and get married and get a job! Wish me luck…

        Link Reply
        • Wade Shepard July 9, 2012, 3:49 am

          You’ve misunderstood what visa free entry means. This does not mean that you don’t have a visa, it means that you get one on arrival. This is a point of confusion and an abuse of terminology. Those stamps that are put into your passport each time you enter the Schengen zone are Schengen C tourist visas. So you have a visa like everyone else, you just don’t need to apply for it in advance.

          I really wish the term “visa free entry” would go out of existence. Visa free entry is like when someone from the USA crosses into Canada or someone from the UK goes to Ireland. It’s only visa free when there are no stamps entered into a passport. If the rubber hits that page it’s a visa.

          Thanks for sharing this experience. Yes, the border passport checks are getting more and more common. They use to not exist at all, but in recent times (perhaps because of the economic crisis in some European countries) some Schengen countries are starting to take back their borders. It’s a good thing that the police and military doing the checks are not often looking for people who’ve overstayed tourist visas (though we’ve had cases submitted were the police DO detain overstayers in such situations).

          Good luck on getting out without being banned, again, thanks for sharing this story.

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  • Brandy March 11, 2011, 4:55 am

    I have been reading all of these posts and your answers to them. I am a US citizen and came to the Czech Republic to get certified to teach English as a foreign language. I had fallen in love with this country and decided to work here. I had several job interviews, but each one said they needed me to have a long-stay visa to be hired. So I quit job hunting and found a flat to rent, made some friends along the way and was pulling everything together to get the long-stay visa (having a residence was the first part), when I finally went to the foreign police only to have them tell me some stuff that I have since found out doesn’t apply anymore because the law here changed in January. Most of the info on even the Czech government sites hasn’t caught up, is invalid, and lead me on a wild goose chase.

    My tourist visa expires in less than two weeks. In the process of trying to get the long-stay visa, I alerted the foreign police to my presence (I can’t tell if they really care or not) and have been told some interesting things:
    1)That in Germany I can get an extension of my tourist visa that is supposed to be for US citizens, i.e. another 90 days in Germany only, but I would of course come back here. Is this true?
    2)I could stay here illegally (free-lance teaching to friends of friends) and then leave the Czech Republic overland to Kiev or Moscow (any non-EU country) and fly to the US from there, and not get busted or even hit their radar. Is this true?

    I am planning on attending graduate school in England in the fall, and worry that even though they are not Shengen, I could jeopardize my student visa application for school there. Is this true?

    I was bawling my eyes out last night because I have settled in and am having such a good time here. Am happier than I’ve been in years. I am trying to find out how to do this, but don’t want to risk the possibility of being banned from the EU or not getting my English student visa. Any advice?

    Thanks for your help to all of us idiot Americans,

    Link Reply
    • Wade | Vagabondjourney.com March 11, 2011, 9:43 am

      Hello Brandy,

      We understand your situation well over here at Vagabond Journey Travel, as questions like yours roll in to us every day. There is only one rule in regards to immigration: never believe that anybody knows what they are talking about. Even the people charged with the official task of disseminating immigration policy to you often just set you down in a maze of misinformation.

      About your points:

      1) No way. We have NEVER heard of ANYONE getting an extension on a tourist visa in the Schengen zone, especially in Germany. But this rumor has been perpetuated before. We even received a couple letters from people who were told by German consulates abroad that they could extend their visa, only to arrive in Germany and find that this was not true. So, unless call and question the German authorities who could grant such an extension first hand, my knowledge says that this is not really a possibility. This would also not help you too much in the Czech Republic or upon leaving the Schengen zone from a third country.

      2) You could stay their illegal, working, living but then you will face a crap shoot as to whether you are caught or not when you finally decide to exit the region. Land borders as well as airport exit points have the ability to bust you for an overstay. These overstays usually come with a 3 year ban to the entire Schengen zone and could present strange problems when trying to re-enter the region even after this. I would not recommend this route, but it is the only way that MANY people find to stay in this stretch of Europe.

      3) A Schengen visa overstay could impact whether or not you get a student visa to the UK. Though the chances of this happening are very hit and miss. Ultimately, you can be denied this visa for just about any reason (or lack there of), so I recommend that you have a clean immigration record if you really want to go to England to study.

      My advice is to talk to other foreign English teachers in the Czech Republic and find out how they got their visas. Do what they did. This could very well mean that you will need to leave the Schengen region for a while in order to go through the application process. Ultimately, it is my impression that although it is difficult it IS possible to get a residency permit for the Czech Republic, but it is my impression that you will need an employer to sponsor you.

      The last time I was in the Czech Republic I had two friends who were staying long term teaching. One went through an arduous process of trying to get legal the other just stayed on illegally. Neither seemed to have the better strategy over the other. But this was also a few years ago, and, as you pointed out, things were different back then.

      Hope this works out for you. Please let us know what happens.

      Link Reply
    • Alex June 8, 2011, 7:37 pm


      You can in Germany but be prepared to live there as we can apply there due to an agreement from the 70’s. I need to go back and re-new my residence card as we..


      You will have to use the Google translate but this is from Immigration Berlin.


      Hope this helps Good Luck..

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  • Jimmie T G March 29, 2011, 6:16 pm

    We got stoped coming back from Greece after staying 5 months to go through Zurich and received the 520 fc fine each. We do not think that since we were not informed on the way through that we should have to pay. What will happen on the way over this year when we travel? Will we have to pay if they stop us. Even the mail and letters are all in German and know one knows how and where to pay. What happens if I buy a visa and stay for 100 days.

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  • Liudmila April 14, 2011, 1:10 am

    Hi Wade,

    Thanks for all the great advice you give here. I would really appreciate it if you had a look at my question, too.

    I’m a Russian citizen. I overstayed my Finnish tourist visa in Malta (it was a 90/90 visa for 1 year) for two months. When I was flying out of Malta, I was stopped at passport control and made to sign a paper stating I’d overstayed. When I asked the authorities at the airport if I would be able to come back to Malta/get another Schengen visa in the near future, they said it wouldn’t be a problem. I asked them about possible penalties for my overstay but they didn’t say anything: nothing about paying a fine or waiting for 3 months before applying for another Schengen visa.
    It so happened that 90 days did pass between when I left Malta and when I applied for another Schengen visa (Finnish, again). The application was declined and I now have a corresponding stamp in my brand new passport. The reason the application was declined was, of course, my overstay in Malta.
    My question is, has my (stupidly) applying for a Schengen visa and getting that ‘declined’ stamp in my passport combined with an overstay in Malta reduced my chances of getting a new Schengen visa to zero? How would you go about this situation if you had to go back to Europe this summer? Is it even an option? Also, how does having the stamp in my passport affect my chances of getting a visa to say, India?

    Many thanks in advance and all the very best to you,


    Link Reply
    • Wade | Vagabondjourney.com April 14, 2011, 1:18 pm

      Very good tough questions here. If you really NEED to get back to Western Europe I would say that your best option is to get a new passport and apply with the Italian consulate. There is a good chance of this not working — as they still have access to the immigration database and can just look up your previous overstay — but this is probably your best shot.

      The record of an overstayed visa CAN stay with you and impact your chances of getting a visa to many other countries unrelated to the one you overstayed in, but this is not regularly practiced.

      Hope everything works out.

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  • azor May 2, 2011, 11:54 am

    salut wade! j’ai un problème, je suis un africain qui avais un visa de 1an pour l’allemangne. après expiratoin de mon visa je suis pa retourné quand la police ma arètter et renvoiyer dans mon pays d’origine. mais actuelement je suis marié a une femme europeene. combien de temps me faudra pour retourné dans l’espace shengen. merci d’avence pour votre aide azor

    Link Reply
    • Wade | Vagabondjourney.com May 2, 2011, 12:16 pm

      This is a primarily English language website. In the near future we will have French and Spanish language versions, but for now please ask your questions in English.

      Link Reply
  • azor May 3, 2011, 5:50 am

    i wos stop in germany bicause my visa wos expire. after the police stop me, i se the judge and de send me bak to my contry in africa. nwo i married germany woman. i wanth to know if is posible to aske visa nwo hor i have to waith? for ameny yaers?

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  • Alex June 8, 2011, 5:25 pm

    In regards to Brandy’s reply, it is possible in Germany to apply for 90 day extension, but it’s not for tourism (get to that later) what you HAVE to do is 1. when you arrive know someone with a private house rent a flat etc register Anmeldung at the local police station or city hall. 2. From the 90 day stamp at the airport BEFORE it expires, I would say 2 weeks before go to the Auslanderbehorde, in your area. Berlin is a “tad” relaxed and apply for a Aufenhaltsalbnus, what they will do is place a rubber stamp in your passport for 90 days more. BUT it’s not for travel what that stamp will do is allow you that time to find a job or some school program that is MORE then 10 hours per-week. If you are lucky to land a job say with the US forces or any US firm (easiest) then you can apply for the Arbeitsalubnus (work permit), that takes 4 weeks. But thats about the only country that lets us do that (US, Canada, Japan, Australia) myself being one of the few lucky ones when I started back in 1993, I now hold a Umbifristed Aufenhaltsbereshdigung “Permanent Residence” hence it take 5 years of LEGAL permits marry / work to get that. School is the easiest option as with the US bases, with a student visa “applied within” you can work 20 hours and jump to the work permit later as your “on the clock” which helps makes things easier..Legally.. Funny thing now I live in Asia over here its pain free! Cheers ( These are the facts about Germany )

    And for the “Overstayed” Italy, Rome airport on exit never had a problem ie open stamp thats it. Without showing my German card 8 times, even coming in 2 times glance and stamp. But we never know! Good Luck

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  • Alex June 8, 2011, 7:03 pm



    It’s changed a bit but still the same the second site has links to the immigration offices at the bottom.

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  • jasmine June 17, 2011, 11:49 pm

    hi i have overstayed in canada for about 6 months now i wanna go back to Netherlands, i just want to know what would be my punishment for overstaying in canada for 6 months?

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  • borhan June 22, 2011, 2:34 pm

    hello, i have overstayed my schengen visa for 2 days now, and im thinking of going back to amsterdam tomorrow (currently in sweden) and get an extension. im willing to pay the fine for overstaying but WILL I BE ABLE to get an extension? i really dont wanna leave back to canada yet (not a canadian citizen yet but canadian permanent resident)

    someone pleaaaase help

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    • Wade | Vagabondjourney.com June 25, 2011, 1:10 pm

      There are no extensions and most countries in the region just ban you. Switzerland and Greece are the only ones that ban you AND also give you a fine.

      Link Reply
  • Donald Elzinga June 26, 2011, 8:09 pm

    My wife and I were caught leaving Zurich after spending 107 days in “Schengen”. We are U.S. citizens and did not have a visa (not required). We entered Belgium, stayed in France and exited from Zurich. We were ignorant of the Schengen treaty, zone, rules, etc. We were fined 560 Swiss francs each, totaling US$1300, which we paid.
    Now our case goes before a Swiss judge who (we were told) can 1) return all or part of the fine and 2) ban us from “Schengen” for some number of years. We’re worried as we visit Europe every year.
    Is there any similar experience from U.S. travelers? Might they return all or part of the fine? More importantly, might they ban us from “Schengen” for some period of time?

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    • Ashley L February 18, 2012, 9:06 am

      So what happened? I am an american as well that overstayed. I did not want to cause any harm!!! I was happy there and when I asked people around me (while waiting for news about a visa) they all played it off like there would be no big deal about the overstay. I was stressed like no other, but after months of seeing them repeatedly tell me I had nothing to worry about I calmed down.
      Then when I was leaving… I had a customs guy who had a bad day and took it out on me. I was taken to a room.. not told what was going on. Filled out paperwork and they let me go. It took a month to get my fine, which I paid. Then I waited and waited for something else, but nothing came. Well now… 5 months later I get a letter saying I am banned for 3 years. I just received the letter and am looking for some type of lawyer to help see what I can do.
      I was wondering if you ever got a ban letter? IF so what did you do… IF not I am happy that you dont have to worry!!!
      Thank you for your advice!!!

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  • Donald Elzinga June 27, 2011, 8:51 pm

    June 26, 2011 at 8:09 pm

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    When does this happen? 27+ hrs and counting.

    Link Reply
    • Wade | Vagabondjourney.com July 3, 2011, 11:45 am


      I am traveling, I am not online 24 hrs a day to moderate your comments. Like it says in the sidebar, if you want an answer to your question — which has been asked many times before on this site — you must make a donation. Thanks.

      Link Reply
  • Laz July 4, 2011, 12:57 am

    hello there,
    i am a syrian national and travelling to switzerland on biz trip on tuesday. the duration of stay on my visa is 4 days which means i have up to friday to leave, but i really want to spend the weekend there which means i will be overstaying the duration by 2 days.
    how risky that might be? is it possible within such a short period to get an extension of 2 days and make it legal? thanks a lot.

    Link Reply
  • Mohamed July 6, 2011, 2:13 am

    i am Egyption, In 2008 i have overstayed in Italy for one day ( i did not exceeded the duration of stay (14 day) but i break the visa validation date for one day) ,now i will go to Germany ,i am afraid from rejecting my visa application .Do you have any information regarding this issue?
    Your prompt reply will be highly appreciated.

    Link Reply
  • Wordsmith August 9, 2011, 7:28 am

    Hi, I need your help. I applied for a work visa in Prague within my 90 days of being there as a tourist. But I left the schengen about 100 days after originally getting in to visit my sister for 8 days. I was under the impression that I am allowed back in the schengen as I have a stamp saying my visa has been applied for (and I have a job that starts in a month) but I’m worried there may be an issue flying back into Prague. I wasn’t questioned or chastised for leaving 100 days after arriving and I was sure thats because I have the stamp proving I’ve applied for my long term visa. Any suggestions about how to best handle my situation upon going through customs on Prague? Am I just paranoid?

    Link Reply
  • sunny singh August 24, 2011, 3:15 am

    hi this is sunny from india.i was married in lithuania girl.then i got lithuania visa for 2 months.
    now i am here overstay last 2 month.if i go to india.can i will get visa from india.
    or some give panalety.
    advice me

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  • Sohail August 24, 2011, 1:43 pm

    Dear Friends,

    I am Indian National and living in Ukraine on Business visa (One Year) I got Schengen (Lithuania) business visa (C- Visa) for some work in Lithuania. I want to know that can i Visit other Schengen countries without of any additional visa.


    Link Reply
  • Carter Johnson August 29, 2011, 5:13 am

    I need some help please! I have been traveling around Europe for about 50 days now and I have decided I want to stay in Holland for the rest of the year. This will surely put me over the 90 days, so what would the easiest thing I could do in order to stay? I heard applying for a student visa is the easiest and quickest thing to do, but places I have gone said that taking only dutch courses will not get me a student visa. Please help because I only have 40 days left and I want to figure this out or if there is another way to do it.

    Link Reply
  • Mayet October 2, 2011, 6:57 am

    Hi.i just want to ask about apply resident visa here in sweden…for now im here in sweden for tourist I stay with my boyfried..myi question is…i extend my schengen visa good for 1 month cos we will go fly together to cebu pbilippines this november…is their no problems with it if I want yo apply for resident visa.please just email me..

    Link Reply
  • Karen October 25, 2011, 8:32 am

    Hi Wade,

    I am from Malaysia and I entered the schengen area from Amsterdam on 6th of April 2011. This is my second time in Europe, the first time being in June 2010 and I was only here for 3 weeks. This time, I was planning to stay longer. The long distances relationship with my boyfriend was taking a toll on the 2 of us. It was just too hard.

    I had no idea about the 90/180 rule until I had overstayed.

    My boyfriend is a Dutch and I am currently in The Netherlands. I am not working.

    I don’t even dare visit my mum in the UK. By the way, can my mum apply for me to stay with her in the UK? Like a family reunification program. She is a permanent resident with a stable job and property.

    I seriously need some advice here as to how to go about the situation.

    Thank you in advance for your advice and help.

    Link Reply
  • Anon November 28, 2011, 7:07 pm

    I just wanted to share my story because I lost a lot of sleep wondering what was going to happen. I am American and spent about 6 months traveling around Europe in the Schengen zone, most of it in Finland. I knew about the 90/180 rule before, but decided to risk it for love. 🙂
    Anyway, when I exited Finland (direct flight to the U.S.) I was stopped by border control. They informed me that I stayed too long, took me back into an office and asked me how much money I made per year ($0) and then determined that the fine was 6 euros per day I overstayed. I was able to pay by wire transfer when I returned to the U.S.
    My advice: Arrive as early as possible to the airport (Check-in opened 4 hours before departure and I was there) because the process at border control will take at least 1 hour and you don’t want to miss your flight…
    Sleep easy!

    Link Reply
  • Thush December 2, 2011, 1:33 pm

    I have got schengan visa to france and it is maximum stay of 30 days and 90 days visa. i thought it is a maximum stay of 30 days per visit and i have visited france three times, stayed totally 90 days. now i am in UK and applied to schengan visa to denmark. Embassy told that i have breached the schengan rules that i overstayed and rejected my visa.Then only i know that maximum stay means it is the whole duration of stay in schengan area. when i travel second third time also, French border force did not stop me. I want to know how long i can’t apply the schengan visa and what is the solution for this since, i want to apply for the schengan visa to germany


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  • nelly January 13, 2012, 11:18 am

    i have schengen until 2013 first entry was on 18-6-2011 then went back to my country egypt on 1-7-2011 then came back agin to germany on 26-10-2011 and never knew about 90 days in 6 month , only knew 90 days so i booked to be back on 25 of januray , will that be a problem , iam really afraid because my husband here in germany and i cant take having ban . please answer me quicklyy

    Link Reply
    • Wade Shepard January 14, 2012, 4:06 pm

      There is a chance that you will be denied entry. Also, if you are allowed entry, you may receive a ban when you leave.

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      • nelly January 15, 2012, 8:09 am

        thanks mr.wade can you explain more , no chances of just paying fee , cant afford not entering germany , my husband here , i hread about people did this and the thing is they used up their second term of 6 months , wshich in my case means that i can re-enter after 18-6 , please tell me , iam terribly scared .

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  • nelly January 17, 2012, 11:08 am

    dear i was today in foreigner offfice in bonn and they said it is fine all correct , because i changed the ticket to 23 januray , they said you havnt overstayed 90 days in 6 months you just didnt go out on 18 december to start a new period of 6 month , but all correct , i felt relieved but what you said still worries me , why you said that

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    • Wade Shepard January 23, 2012, 9:27 am

      All too often the immigration officials don’t know the Schengen visa rules. They will tell you that your visa “reset” in Bonn then bust you as an overstayer and ban you for three years in Frankfurt. Be warned, MANY people have been misled by the immigration officials. It is a sorry state of affairs.

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  • Brennan February 6, 2012, 2:40 am

    First of all thank you Wade for all of your great advice. If it was not for your website I may not have survived my (over)stay in Europe.

    So my story is this… I am an American who flew out to France on a tourist visa by way of Scotland back in August. I stayed about 14 days in schengen initially, then moved over to London for a few weeks before settling in Paris with my french girlfriend for over four months. I took the risk like a lot of love stuck dummies do. I even found a job for a new Parisian pedicab company. Unfortunately this passed December I was stopped for running a red light by the police and they asked me for my papers. Of course I didn’t have any and I sort of talked my way out of presenting them. My company had to present the préfecture with a contractors agreement but need less to say I couldn’t stay with the job. Although I want to note I don’t think they have any of my info and only the company seemed at risk.

    So after another month of struggling with cash I was forced to leave France a few days ago. I departed out of CDG via USAirways directly back to the states. They more than likely scanned my passport but for some reason or another I left unscathed by immigration control. No fine. No ban. Now here is my question…..

    Considering I got out should I assume that I am not in SIS and free to return in 90 days? Also my impatience has me researching visas could my overstay affect this? Now I know “losing” your passport is an old trick but if I am not in the system wouldn’t it work in my case? Or maybe they do track entries and exits otherwise what would stop me from getting a new passport and flying back in a week?

    On a personal note my relationship is pretty much over due to this fiasco and I am not really adjusting back in NYC after these five months abroad.

    Thanks Wade… Walking very slow..’

    PS I plan to make a full donation whenever my check comes in. This really helps us expats.

    Link Reply
    • Wade Shepard February 9, 2012, 2:25 pm

      It seems as if you’re in the clear. Now, if you apply for a visa they may look through your stamps and see the overstay, but we’ve not yet received clear evidence of this happening. Generally, they seem to only go off of what pops up on their computers about you. But you may want to go in with a clean document none the less.

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  • denise February 12, 2012, 9:36 am

    i have a question? A Us citizen who overstayed tourist schengen visa in switzerland for about a year, because i was takin a german classes, travelling europe and i found a guy, fall in love in him and just stay with him in switzerland,for a long time not nowing the EU and the schengen laws. i decidet to marry him. but before that i went back to see my family in US. On my departure i was stoped and said i overstayed my tourist visa and i will be fined and maybe banned, but officals on the airport said they will put a good word for me and that likely wont be banned and will be able to return in 3 months but i will surely be fined. Now im in US for about a month now in that time my boyfriend applayed for a marriage with me in switzerland but to get married i have to first be able to return to switzerland and so we found a lawyer to write a letter to immigration in switzerland explainig why i overstayed an that i want to come back to get married as soon as possible. In the last month i found out i have no family in US (long story) and beside in a hotel or somethong like that i have no place to stay so decidet to go to turkey in couple of days to stay with my boyfriends family. My question is can my fine be shipped to my boyfriends adress and are there a real chance of me not getting banned and entering schengen(switzerland) in three months( my Passport was not stammped but it could have been scanned of course, i dont know). could maybe a new passport helped with all of this because in a new issued passport there woul be no stamps of my overstay. any information about this would be very helpful any!

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    • Wade Shepard February 13, 2012, 10:55 am

      Others have reported paying the fine and still being banned. A new passport probably won’t help much in this case as your other identifying information is probably already in the computer system. The only thing you can do is return and see if they will let you back in.

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    • Ashley L February 18, 2012, 9:12 am

      I am an american who also fell in love in Switzerland.
      We have talked about marriage, but I want to finish school first. I am back in the usa, but was stopped when I left in September. I overstayed by 5 months. I got a fine after a month and now…. 5 months later…. I get a letter saying that I am banned for 3 years. I am looking for a lawyer to see if there is anything I can do.
      I did not want to cause any trouble!!! I was not trying to break the law!!!
      I hope your situation works out!! I was just wondering if you did finally find a lawyer or what has happend…..

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      • Wade Shepard February 21, 2012, 8:04 pm

        Thank you for sharing this. The Switzerland fining system is incredibly stupid, as you get banned for 3 years if you pay it and banned for 3 years if you don’t. Many readers here have reported using immigration lawyers to help with their overstay problems, but we have not yet (in five years of doing this type of consultation) received a success story. My only advice is to wait out the three years.

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        • D November 20, 2012, 3:28 am

          I got the ban reverse. People could look up my original post. There’s a lot of paperwork to be done, a lot of research, and some money to pay (for Apostille on docs etc) but at least with Switzerland, they eventuanlly overturned my case. One thing in my favor was I had applied for a schengen visa to study in Italy legally and it was only then I discovered my ban. I had previously paid the fine, but as Wade said, they ban you anyway (in most cases, I can’t speak for all). In my letters to Zurich and Bern, I showed the photocopies of my denied Visa and told them I was trying to go about things the correct way. They also wanted an FBI background check and a copy of my bank statement (assuming to demonstrate I wasn’t looking to feed off the system). There are a lot more details to cover, but it’s too much to get into here. That’s the gist, though.

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          • Rachel March 28, 2021, 3:37 pm

            Hi D, is there anywhere I could reach out to you for more information about overturning the ban? Especially while applying for partnership if they will reverse the ban to allow to you get married/registered partner?

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  • Steve February 12, 2012, 11:49 am

    Hello Wade,

    Appreciate all the great advice on this site as it has really helped my girlfriend and I with some of our questions. We are exchange students in Holland and will have been in the Schengen for about 100 days by the time we leave. We plan on taking the Eurostar back to London to fly back to the US, and are wondering if we should expect any problems? It seems like this is a relatively minimal invasion and we will likely take a trip or two out of the Schengen to bring the number of days down closer to 5 or 6 days over the 90 day limit. Our option was to either risk this or pay our school for a 600 Euro residence permit, so hopefully we chose the right option. Thanks for your help!

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    • Wade Shepard February 13, 2012, 10:45 am

      If your school is offering you a residency permit, take it. A one day overstay can be punished the same as a on year overstay. There is no grace period.

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  • John March 23, 2012, 1:41 pm

    I’m looking for some advice on my up coming travels.

    I’m a U.S. citizen. I first flew to the U.K. in August of 2011 and took the ferry to France in late August. I traveled around for two months, lived in Holland for a month, and now I’ve been living in Paris since November. So by now I’ve overstayed my visa by 5 months. I plan now to do some backpacking. My plan is to go from Paris, to Prague, to Vienna, to Budapest, to Istanbul. And yes, this is all by foot. I understand that I will not be leaving the Shengen region until I leave Hungary and enter Romania. Romania has been accepted to Shengen but I don’t think that goes into effect for quite a while.

    Basically, I’m looking for any advice on crossing that border. Where should I cross? Should I be looking for a busy border crossing where I’m going to be pushed through? Is Romania even going to care or is there someone from Hungary who will? If I get into Romania, and have a new visa, entering Bulgaria and Turkey then shouldn’t be a problem, will it?

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  • Sido April 24, 2012, 1:32 pm

    Hello Wade,

    I’m Canadian citizen and i overstayed in europe for a month & 10 days reasons why i did that was very sick and couldn’t catch my flight back to Canada. I am very confused, Is there any good suggestions that can help me out of the matter.
    Thank you & waiting for your reply.

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    • Wade Shepard April 24, 2012, 8:54 pm

      If you were in a hospital you may be able to get an extension based on that depending on what country you’re in. Otherwise just exit from a country that’s lax on prosecuting overstayers.

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  • Analía Viviana April 29, 2012, 2:20 pm

    Hello Wade,

    First of all I find really usefull the advice you give here. I hope you can have a look at my story too..
    I’m an Argentinian citizen. I had my permission for 6 months to study in Finland during 2010. I decided to stay longer because I had a relationship with a finnish boy at that time, so we applied for the cohabitation permission which I never got an answer back. The thing is that I found a job for the summer season of 2011 and I applied for a working permission. I got a negative answer last november but it was too late because the summer was already gone and I was already planning to go back to South America. So we took a plane and had to stop in Frankfurt, everything was ok until I did the check in to change flights..the police man told me that I was living in Finland ilegally. They made me sign a papper written in german (§ 95 Abs 1 Ns 2 + 3 aufenthG) and he said that I might receive a letter to pay a fine. Then I asked him if I would be able to come back to Europe or apply for other Schengen visa in the near future, he said it wouldn’t be a problem.
    It’s been almost 5 months since this happened and I haven’t received a letter yet. I am currently staying in Argentina, but I am planning on going back to Finland to study next year.
    I am wondering:
    is it truth that I can return to europe without a problem? do I have a ‘red flag’ too? do I have to expect to receive that letter yet? am I gonna be banned from the Schengen Area? do I have to contact a migration attorney before applying for a Schengen visa again? or what should I do?
    When I applied for all the permissions in Finland the finnish police authority told me that it was legal to stay as long as the application was pending.
    Well I hope that you can give me your word of advice about the whole situation because I am really lost about it!
    Many thanks in advance!


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    • Wade Shepard April 29, 2012, 7:58 pm

      The only way to find out if you’re banned is to apply for the visa and see if you get it. From the experience of the people who’ve been reporting to this site over the past five years I would say that there is a reasonable chance that you’re banned — regardless of what the immigration official told you. All too often the officials themselves don’t realize/ care what the consequences are of creating a file on overstayers. This may not be the case here, so don’t let it prevent you from applying. If you exited the Schengen from Finland you would have probably of been in the clear — as it’s often OK to wait after a visa expires on an immigration decision as long as you have proof of the impending decision. Many people who’ve we consulted tried the immigration lawyer route after being caught for an overstay, and have not reported very promising results.

      I would recommend just applying for your next visa like normal and not mentioning the previous overstay.

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  • Micah June 4, 2012, 1:23 pm

    Hi Wade,

    This has been really helpful trying to figure out what exactly is allowed for Europe. I am an American staying in Germany with an Aufenthaltstitel that is good until August 1st, however I was under the impression that I would be able to extend it for a long time and so bought my return ticket for the middle of August and then the Auslaenderbehoerde told me that it would not be possible to extend it, which left me in kind of a weird situation. I was wondering if you could tell me anything about the possibility of leaving the schengen zone for the time when my Aufenthaltstitel expires and then trying to get back into Europe/Germany on a tourist visa again. I’m not quite sure what the rules are regarding my current stay in Germany and if that counts against the days I am allowed to stay on the schengen visa, as I was here under a non-tourist visa maybe that time won’t count against my 90 days. I haven’t been able to get a very concrete answer on this and am guessing it might be one of those unclear-until-you-try-it kind of things but anything you could tell me would be really helpful. Thanks.


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    • Jeremy July 22, 2012, 3:50 am

      I have heard similar situations with people having student visas. The visa is good for 1 year and then they figure once the student visa is up, they “change hats” and become a tourist for another 90 days making a total of 12+3=15 total months. When I applied for my student visa I asked the consulate about this and they told me “No. Once the visa has expired, that’s it. You must leave. Prior to the visa expiring, you can apply for other types of visas for up to three years.” The reason for the three years thing (In Slovenia anyway) is because that is how long your criminal background check is good for. Then you must simply file a new criminal background check and re-apply for visas. The key thing I have noticed in the EU (as an American) is to keep your background check current, apply for visas ahead of time (2-3 months) and stay current on your registration with local police. Then, “Bob’s your uncle” as the Brits like to say. I have heard people say that they were told to leave for 90 days and then the 180 is reset, however I have also heard that you must leave for 180 days and then it’s reset, that’s why one shouldn’t even bother with a tourist visa if you don’t plan on being a tourist. The EU doesn’t see you as a tourist after 90 days, because you’re not.

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      • D November 20, 2012, 11:31 am

        This is what is annoying. I , too, have been told –and read–that student visas do not anuto-renew for a 90 day tourist visa (In fact, if I remember correctly, they simply stopped processing these. I believe they were called D+C visas….with the C class being the extra 90 days) I was told the ‘tourist’ visa expires on the 90th day of my stay in Europe….counting, obviously, from day 1, entry into Schengen. That makes sense to me. Fine. In late July I came home to the US for a visit, transit through Frankfurt from Rome (I have a visa for Italy, which expired but had started my permit renewal/permesso di soggiorno, so it was ok) But….of course, I was anxious, it being Frankfurt and had all my permit paperwork ready to present. The female police officer stared at my Visa, then turned to her colleague and they spoke a bit in German. Then they both grinned at me and said “right, as an American you could even stay another 3 months! no problem. Good morning and have a good flight” or some such. Not wanting to argue, I just said ‘thanks’ and left. But they were WRONG. This is the problem. Even those “in charge” are misinformed.

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  • Amin June 30, 2012, 8:19 am

    I have visited Germany on tourist visa on January 2012, but have overstayed my visa around two months. and i came to my country via Sweden , and don’t face any problem in airport they just stamped exit stamp on my passport.now i came back to my country.
    my question is . what problem i can face if i apply the Germany or any other European country visa in future.

    is there any penalty or ban?



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  • Per July 4, 2012, 4:21 am

    Hi – I have a related question and am not sure if anyone here know the answer. I am a Norwegian citizen, have been in Switzerland for a bit more than three months, and just now realize I should have registered with the local authorities before those three months were up. Do you know the consequences of this? And do you have any recommendation for what to do at this point? I would like to stay longer, but am not sure if I at this point should contact the local authorities or quietly leave and then return a bit later.

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  • Kate July 12, 2012, 12:14 pm

    Hi Wade!
    I hope you might be able to give me some advice.
    I arrived in Austria on June 24 from Canada, to spend the summer learning German before I start a full-year University program in Vienna on October 1. I just applied for my residence permit in person at the Magistrat in Vienna, and the agent informed me that even though I applied early, my residence permit will not be issued until my first day of classes (Oct 1), which means that I will consequently outstay my 90-day tourist visa by 8 days. She recommended that I leave the country (I assume she means the whole Schengen area) for 8 days at some point before October 1.
    So my question is: is this really necessary? Will they deny me my residence permit if I’ve outstayed my 90-day tourist visa by 8 days? Do they even check? What would be the consequences of overstaying my 90-day tourist visa by 8 days? Does she indeed mean that I need to leave the whole Schengen area, or just Austria? If I hop up to England for a week in late September, will I have trouble re-entering Austria with only a week left on my 90-day tourist visa? I hear the UK is pretty strict, so I assume that if I spend a week there my passport will be stamped (proving that I did leave Austria for a certain amount of time), but if I go to another country instead, how can I be sure to get my passport stamped?
    Thanks so much for your help!

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  • Jeremy July 21, 2012, 7:14 am

    Hey Wade. I wanted to share my story (if it helps). I too was guilty of the horrible crime of “overstayer”. I am an American citizen that thought I would come to Europe and teach English (like a had done in the good ol days of the 90’s and pre-schengen and 9-11) I flew into Belgium and then to Ljubljana and started my trek across my family homeland of Slovenia. I knew about the 90/180 rule but thought that an old fashioned boarder run to Croatia would fix me up “real nice”. About day number 85 I took a car over towards Croatia and exited with no problems and entered Croatia with no problems. A few hours later when I came back into Slovenia-Schengen-EU the Slovenes were none to keen on letting me back in with a smile. I was told that my 90 days were almost up and that I should go back to America (home-to be exact) or that I could be fined and banned from the EU indefinately. I was shocked. That was the first time in my life in all my travels that they actually gave me greif. Well, to add insult to injury I stayed another 6 months and finished my classes with a school. This meant that I had entered the Schengen zone on Sept.15 2010 and exited June 29th 2011. The only flight I could get was out of Frankfurt GERMANY!!! I was like “You have got to be kidding me!” So, I musterd up the strength, got on the plane from LJU and went to Frankfurt, the “Lion’s Den” if you will. I was so g*da*n nervous I could hardly put one foot in front of the other. I walked over to the “EXIT SCHENGEN” sign, stood and waited. The guy called me forward, I handed him my passport, he looked at it, paged through it, looked back at me, looked at his computer and called a buddy over to help him (All the time this is happening I can feel sweat flowing down the sides of my body) It was a scene right out of “Midnight Express” “The Great Escape” or any other war/prison movie you’ve ever seen. Finally he asks me “Why did you stay so long?” I told him that I had travelled outside of Slovenia a few times and thought my time was reset each time (complete BS). His supervisor just shook his head and handed me my passport and told me to “Go home and have a good flight.” I almost fell to my knees in joy when I got to my gate. I have since done everything right. I have a proper visa and am registered with the proper authorities over here. Being legal is SOOOO AWESOME! My advise for anyone is this: Call the country’s counsilate / embassy you plan on staying in the most and arrange for a visa BEFORE you leave. Even if you plan on travelling all over the EU, pick a base country and “do” something there. Study, work, visit a relative, whatever. If you plan on staying longer than 90 days, do it right. It’s not that hard and easier than you think. I was so lucky to slip through the cracks that I can assure it won’t happen again. I hear a lot of people asking Wade for “Dear God Please Help” type responses. Here’s the deal: If you overstay more than 90 days within a 180 day period you are ILLEGAL. You broke the law. It’s that easy. The day you land count that day +179 more and that is your absolute final day to use-up your 90 day “fun pass” tourist visa. Once you are illegal you have to leave. There is no “oh oh Spaghetti-o’s” “get out of jail free card.” Or “I was in love so I told your rules to stick it.” Another piece of advice–> Actually “read” these stories and your questions will be answered. Anyway. Safe Travels and fun adventures:-))) Peace.

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    • Wade Shepard July 22, 2012, 9:28 am

      Thanks for sharing this story. Thanks especially for saying, “Another piece of advice–> Actually “read” these stories and your questions will be answered.” It’s generally true. I began answering Schengen visa questions because it was a service that I could offer, and then it got out of control: hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people keep asking the same questions I’ve already answered dozens of times. It got to the point that I had to pull the plug, and now I’ll generally only touch a question on this topic if the person becomes a contributor to the site. Otherwise, there are just far too many requests and 90% of questions have been answered already, all someone needs to do is a site search to find them.

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  • Tsvetelina Dinkova July 27, 2012, 9:45 am

    Hello Wade,

    I found your blog and I love it!!! I couldn’t find answer for my problem in it tho.
    I’m from Bulgaria- EU country and in ferbruary I came to Germany by plane. I left two weeks later to Switzerland by train and no one checked my ID. My dad drove me back to Bulgaria with his car, but on the border the people were just checking the photo and not scanning or anything. I’m back to Germany now, came with a train and of course no one scanned my ID. I have a flight to UK in 3 days and I’m afraid I might get accused for overstaying my Visa. I don’t have any document to prove I haven’t been here. In Bulgaria I don’t work and I live at my parent’s house, here I stay with a friend. I’m really getting stressed and I dont want to get in trouble when I did nothing wrong. Is there a way for the German authorities to check when I entered the country if my ID wasn’t scanned?

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    • Wade Shepard July 27, 2012, 10:46 am

      If you’re an EU citizen you can stay in these countries for as long as you want.

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  • Li August 8, 2012, 8:30 am

    Hello Wade,
    Can I stay in Schengen zone across two continuous visas?
    I have a question but cannot find in your blog. My wife is working in Germany until 2012-11-15. I have a Schengen visa until that day 2012-11-15. But she will extend her contract and continue staying in Germany for a few months. So I will apply another visa to visit her. Assume, my new visa will start from 2012-11-16. Can I go to Germany on 2012-11-10 and stay there for a week? In this case, I will stay there across two visas.


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  • Jay September 3, 2012, 1:06 am

    Hi Wade,
    A quick question! I accidentally overstayed my visit, while in Switzerland, by 2 days. I was fined $550 on the way out, which I paid immediately. It has been over a year now, and I haven’t traveled to the EU. What are the chances of my visa being denied due to my 2 day overstay? It was a genuine mistake! The 3 month visa was valid with a total duration of stay of 15 days annotated on it. I mistook it for a permissible 15 day stay on each entry into the EU, not realizing that its a TOTAL of 15 days, irrespective of the number of times I visited.
    Is it safe to apply for a tourist visa again?

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    • Wade Shepard September 3, 2012, 1:08 am

      Sure, it’s safe to apply for a tourist visa again, but there is a reasonably good chance that your application will be denied. Though it’s not my impression that it will hurt to try.

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  • D September 19, 2012, 7:08 am


    I just wanted to comment that I was travelling back to the US this summer and my Schengen visa (Italy) was expired. However, I was in process of renewing my permit (permesso di soggiorno) and had papers stating I already had my appointment submitting my request. I transited through Frankfurt, expecting problems so I had my papers all ready. The female police officer studied my visa and as I was about to ask if anyone could read my letter from the Questura in Italy, she asked her collegue, they spoke in German for a few seconds, and then she smiled and said “As an American you haven’t any problems, you could stay for 3 more months as a tourist!” I didn’t want to question it obviously…! I just said thanks and goodd day. BUT this is NOT the current information I have read. I read and have understood that when a student visa expires, there is no longer the “luxury” of extending for 3 months as a tourist. They told me that in Italy and in Switzerland and I’ve read it online too. Boh! Anyway, just passing on the latest info I had and wonder if anyone has concrete info or stories on the contrary. I hate that Schengen rules are applied as the individual officers see fit.

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  • mahad November 17, 2012, 3:47 pm

    I hope you might be able to give me some advice. i overstayed my visa because i lost my passport and all my other indentifations and i wasn’t able to prove who i am . neither did i attempt to go the police to report it or to the my local embassy, untill now…i from canada and have been stuck in sweden and now ive found my citiizenship card which i have presented to the embassy and have appiled for a new passport that i’ll be getting in a couple of weeks for me to leave .. question

    1) what will happen at the airrport when im about to catch my flight ?
    2) what are the consequences of overstaying schengen visa ?
    3) which measures will they take for my situlation ? (3 years overstayed )

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  • Cortney November 19, 2012, 4:05 am

    I am US citizen and I am married to a Spanish citizen. I got married to him when I was in Spain on a student visa (in Gibraltar) and returned to the US with my husband after that. We returned to Spain with me on a 90-day tourist visa (we were told by the Spanish Embassy in Chicago) that is all I needed to get in and apply for my residency visa here. Yet, once I got here I was rejected two times for a residency visa. I have overstayed my tourist visa for a long time now since I entered on September 12th or 13th, 2011. I have been trying this whole time to get my residency card so we don’t have problems when we leave (we are currently applying for his Visa to enter the US so we can move back there ASAP). I’m at my wits end had am now working with my second lawyer. Any suggestions as to how to get my situation resolved? Do you know how much they could possibly fine me if I am a EU citizen’s LEGAL WIFE who overstayed the 90 day visa (and I was his wife BEFORE I even entered on the 90 day visa)? I’m just so frustrated with everything. 🙁

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    • Wade Shepard November 19, 2012, 8:30 am

      First of all, ditch the lawyers. They only take your money. Secondly, it’s counter-intuitive but being a spouse of an EU citizen won’t get you very far, as you’ve probably found. Realistically, the only thing you can do is return to the USA and try to get a spouse visa. You won’t be fined when leaving but you may be banned from reentering the Schengen zone for the next 3 years or so as a tourist. This could prevent you from being able to get a spousal visa as well, though it’s not definite. Leaving on a direct flight from France decreases your chances of being caught. Spain is getting more strict on overstayers.

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      • Cortney November 19, 2012, 9:08 am

        But wouldn’t I get caught when crossing the border into France? I really don’t care if I get banned. When we leave we are NOT coming back. The plan is to get his US Visa, go to the USA and then get his green card in the USA (we can get a non-immigrant visa then adjust his status to that of a permanent resident when we are both in the USA or just wait here until he gets permanent resident status (for the USA here) and then go to the USA. That’s the USA side of immigration, but just so you understand what we are doing). The only thing is that I don’t want to be fined. I don’t care if I am fined and have to pay the fine before coming BACK to Spain (which wouldn’t be for 5 years at least). I just don’t want to have to pay a fine in order to leave Spain this time. I’m self employed and make enough to survive and take my hubby back with me, but I don’t know if I could afford a $550-$2000 fine. 🙁 I’ve been looking everywhere to try and find out how much they could possibly fine me (so I can start saving that money now just in case it is needed). I’m just really getting sick of Spanish red tape. I’m 24. This is not what I was hoping for when I got married. 🙁 Also, any suggestions for how to leave Spain without being detected as an “overstayer?” I was thinking about taking a cruise back to the USA or a flight. I’ve been told leaving from Madrid is a good way, but I really don’t know.

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        • D November 19, 2012, 1:56 pm

          You won’t get caught going to France as both countries are Schengen and they don’t do passport control…..which is Schengen’s reason for existing….free borders, for legals. The problem will be exiting from France, Spain or any Schengen member state for the US. If you don’t care about the 3, 5 or however many year ban, then I’d say just go. However, consider the fact your husband may not have an easy time getting a visa for the US. I know many Italian men who are awaiting their documents to process….a long line of red tape. Could you deal not going to visit your husband in Spain as he waits? This isn’t to add to your anxiety, but they are realistic situations.
          About the fine….the longer you wait to pay (or don’t pay) it will be worse. The Swiss gave me a tight deadline (3 weeks) to pay by the time the letter arrived at my US home address. If I didn’t pay I know my ban would have increased or worse, my appeal to the ban would have surely been denied. (see my original post about exiting through Zurich, worst mistake of my life!) Anyway, not paying the fine might also leave issues for your husband in his process with US immigration. My fine for an overstay of a couple of months was 350-400 CHS (swiss francs) if I remember correctly.

          I’m sorry you had a hard time trying to get a permit to stay in Spain. I didn’t think they were so strict. Why were you denied? In Italy, it’s pretty straightforward and you get a type of permesso di soggiorno, but it’s a carta di soggiorno which lasts for 5 years to start(and increases, I believe after that grace period).

          I am assuming they denied you because you were not actually legal to be married? By that, I know Italy refuses to recognize the wedding or spouse of its citizens if you don’t have an actual visa….student, ER, work etc… with the permit to stay/PdS. Tourist visas do not count here, maybe they don’t in Spain, either.

          Either just wing it leaving from Spain or try your luck exiting through France. Either way you’re aware of what might happen. Good luck and let us know what happens.

          p.s. have you contacted the American embassy or consulate for advice?

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          • Cortney November 20, 2012, 3:06 am

            The American Embassy said they couldn’t do anything for me. They said to just try my best and if they want to fine me, show them all of the paperwork and e-mails of me trying to get my residency. They denied me because I didn’t have a paper showing my marriage was registered in Spain. I had registered it and proof of the registration, but not the actually final registration certificate. I was under a Spanish student visa when I got married, but we came back on my Tourist visa because the Spanish Consulate in Chicago said I DIDN’T NEED ONE! 🙁 Does the world just hate me?

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          • Cortney December 3, 2012, 2:26 am

            After calling everywhere, I found out that some lame civil code is what is stopping me from getting my card. Eventhough on ALL OF THE STINKING FORMS it says that you CAN get your card just by showing some proof of your marriage, that is not the case. (even on the actual application form it states some Royal Decree, but if you actually read that Royal Decree it says you just have to have SOME FORM of proof as well!). The reason is that in Spain, Article 61 of their Civil Code says that no marriage is recognized until it is registered in the Civil Registrar’s office. No big deal, right? Well, registering a marriage done outside of Spain only takes about 1.5-2.5 YEARS. If that information would have been available BEFORE I left, I would have just tried a different self-employment residency card. Now I’ve been here too long to get anything! Seriously, I even called the immigration office and asked why I had been denied, the man on the phone said that it was because of that Royal Decree, I said “Look here. I’m reading it RIGHT NOW AND IT SAYS ALL I NEED IS MY MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE!”, He says, “One moment while I get a ‘copy,'” and then I hear him asking his co-workers WHERE that information really is! Why does no one know their own immigration laws? Pft. 🙁

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            • BANGUS BALUT June 23, 2014, 7:13 pm

              LOL Welcome to Spain.

              The only EU nation with 75% unemployment.

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          • jasz December 8, 2012, 5:09 am

            You don’t say what visa you are using to get your husband into the USA, but I hope you aren’t hoping to do it with a tourist visa. Since you’re married they’ll assume immigrant intent and deny him entrance. The good news is that if you’ve been together for more than two years, he can get a ten year green card at the start after your cr-1 is finished. Read a visa site like visa journey.com to get help, unless something is odd you don’t need a lawyer. Note that a spousal visa will take a while to process, but there might be something to speed it up if you are both outside the USA.

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            • BANGUS BALUT June 23, 2014, 7:11 pm

              Visa Journey is a garbage site full of admin trolls.

              That said, a spousal visa to the USA usually only takes like 3 months. I am not sure why she didn’t do this at the get-go.

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          • jasz December 8, 2012, 5:15 am

            And dealing with usa immigrations you don’t want to do anything that could be visa fraud. Not if you want your husband to get citizenship. go for the spousal visa.

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  • Renee November 19, 2012, 9:20 am

    I know this question has been asked previously but I am wondering if there are any updates.

    I have overstayed a Schengen visa by more than five months, entering through Germany. I plan to leave through Barcelona, Spain on 5 December on Aer Lingus, destination Dublin. The reason for leaving from Spain is that I have been told that Spain is very lax on exit stamps (a friend from the US visited Spain in October and did not get an exit stamp when she returned to the US). I am wondering how vigilant Irish immigration is at this point? An Irish friend thinks I will not have a problem. I will have a return ticket to the US in hand, dated for 90 days from arrival, as well as bank statements and cash on hand. (Although … what is “sufficient” cash?)

    Additionally, from Ireland I plan to take a ferry to the UK. Another friend will meet me at the port in the UK, and she also believes I will not have a problem entering the UK — particularly if I have managed to get through Irish immigration.

    Thoughts? Comments? Advice?

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  • Mark November 19, 2012, 9:23 am

    Hi wade

    I hope you might be able to give me some advice. i overstayed my visa because i lost my passport and all my other indentifations and i wasn’t able to prove who i am . neither did i attempt to go the police to report it or to the my local embassy, untill now…i from canada and have been stuck in sweden and now ive found my citiizenship card which i have presented to the embassy and have appiled for a new passport that i’ll be getting in a couple of weeks for me to leave .. question

    1) what will happen at the airrport when im about to catch my flight ?
    2) what are the consequences of overstaying schengen visa ?
    3) which measures will they take for my type of situlation ? (3 years )

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  • Ana O November 20, 2012, 11:40 am

    Hi! I’m Croatian who has overstayed Schengen visa recently, and they told me on border I can’t travel in EU for 3 months..I have a boyfriend in Canada (Edmonton) and I wanna make a visit in a few days, so I wonder, is it posible to book a flight from Zagreb to Paris, in Paris I have a transition flight ( so I dont have to go through immigration and customs) for Minneapolis, and than in Minneapolis flight for Edmonto? Problem is that there is no direct flights from Zagreb to anywhere in Canada, so I was wondering is this possible?
    Thank you..Ana

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  • Mark December 1, 2012, 1:17 am



    I am a Canadian citizen and i am in a very delicate situation and i need your best advice i can get. I have a couple of questions In hope that you can answer them for me

    I am in Sweden and i have overstayed my Schengen visa for 2 years and a couple of months now and I haven’t traveled to any other country in europe while i’ve been here .When I first arrived everything was ok ! I was given my 90 day visa to stay but just around the time when it was for me to leave I lost all my identifications including my passport. I decided to put my passport at a friend apartment. So i wouldn’t have to lose it while travel around sweden..leaving it in the possession of a careless friend was a big mistake and I didn’t file in a police report because I wasn’t convinced that the police would  be able to help me retrieve my passport in time for me to board my flight. After trying serval attempts to find my ID’s  i lost all hope and eventually gave up.  So i stayed here in Sweden for 0ver 2 years and I slipped into a deep depression and was very confused about how to handle this problem because I have never been in this type of position before and neither have I ever lost my passport.But now after 2 years of hardship I have found my Canadian citizenship card and now i have been to the Canadian Embassy and applied for a new passport and im awaiting for a new passport and I will purchase a new ticket to go back home. But I need to know a few things first.

    1) What are my options for getting out of the Schengen zone and going back home without out any problems ? (no fine and not getting banned to re-entry Europe again) 

    2) How should I avoid getting caught by the sort authorities at the airport or which Country would be best for me to leave from other than Sweden ?

    When I’m leaving Will I be integrated,investigated or fingerprinted when I am at the airport ? Or will i even have a problem passing through Holland as transit ? 

    much appreciated, thanks!

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    • Wade Shepard December 1, 2012, 9:44 pm

      This has to be the worst excuse for overstaying a visa we’ve ever received here. So you’re telling me that you thought you were trapped in Sweden because you lost your passport? Seriously? If this is true it seems as if you’re unable to help yourself, so how could I help you?

      On the chance that this is a concocted excuse I’ll respond to your questions.

      1) Possible, but rather slight. If you’re exiting through Holland, as you mention, they are rather strict on processing overstayers. If you exit from Sweden, they are even stricter.

      2) There isn’t a way. Just go through exit immigration like everybody else, and if they decide to bust you they will. There are no tricks here. Currently, France and Italy are still the most lax on processing overstayers.

      3) If you are processed, there will more than likely be no interrogation, investigation, or fingerprinting. What will more than likely happen is the immigration official will inform you that you overstayed, will take you into a little room where you will fill out a form, and three months later your ban will come into effect and you will not be able to return to Schengen Europe for a number of years. The entire processing of overstayers at the airport is usually pretty quick and painless, and we’ve yet to receive a case of someone missing their flight who wasn’t being investigated for other infractions.

      For the record, your depressed in Sweden and didn’t know what to do defense probably won’t get you very far.

      Link Reply
    • BANGUS BALUT June 23, 2014, 6:48 pm

      Why did it take 2 years to get a Canadian passport? American embassies can do it in like 45 minutes!

      BTW-How have you survived in such an expensive country as a 2 year long tourist? Could help some of us become Mexicans over there…..

      Link Reply
  • Ravee December 2, 2012, 12:54 am

    Hello Wade!
    I overstayed my Schengen Visa by 3 days and had to pay a fine, which i did while exiting Switzerland. I hold an Indian passport. Would I be denied a Schengen visa if i apply? Its been 2 years since this incident.

    Link Reply
    • Wade Shepard December 2, 2012, 1:03 am

      It’s possible. Overstayers who are fined are often banned as well.

      Link Reply
      • Ravee December 2, 2012, 1:10 am

        Thanks for your prompt response, Wade.
        I wasn’t told anything about a ban though, while I paid the $550. If at all they do ban me, would you have any idea how long the ban would be?
        I was sick and thus had to overstay by 3 days. I’m pretty sure they aren’t going to buy that…but yeah, that was what it was!

        Link Reply
        • Wade Shepard December 2, 2012, 11:15 am

          Usually they’re for around three years. I would recommend just applying for your visa and not mentioning anything about it.

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          • Gabriel August 15, 2023, 7:37 pm

            Hello there Wade. Since the Swiss government will ban me anyway, should I pay the 350 swiss francs fine? Or wait the three years? Me and my girlfriend overstayed in Malta by one day and where caught in Zurich.

            Link Reply
            • VBJ August 16, 2023, 8:21 am

              It’s really lame how they’d try to administer a fine and a ban for a one day overstay. Some people on here intentionally overstay by years, so I get it in that case. But a one day overstay can happen to anyone. Did they tell you that you were banned? How was the fine administered? Did they send a letter to your home address or digitally? While I believe it probably won’t alter the length of your ban you should probably pay it … never know how not paying it could come back to bite you in the long run.

              Link Reply
              • Gabriel October 10, 2023, 8:45 pm

                Hello there! They sent me a letter, no email. The agents told me that I could pay the fine at my next vist to the EU. But I received a letter telling that the fine was close to its due date. Honestly I’m kinda lost, since I cannot afford to pay it right now (my country’s currency is way undervalued). I hope that it doesn’t escalate to a huge interest rate or any other legal measures. Thank you for your answer and sorry for the bad english.

                Link Reply
  • Watt May 18, 2013, 3:59 am

    Hello Wade

    I am a Vietnamese student holding a student visa in France. Well, i held. I had a depression and didn’t apply to extend my visa, as of right now i overstayed for about 6 months. I am leaving France very soon so do you have any idea what would the fine be? I read that somebody was offered 2 option, a ban on re-entry or a fine, however i have no plan to come back to Europe so a ban is really fine for me. Is there a chance i could be offered the same?

    Thank you very much.

    Link Reply
    • VagabondJourney May 18, 2013, 5:08 am

      Oftentimes, when overstayers pay the fine they are still banned, even if the immigration official says that they won’t be (i.e.. Switzerland).

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      • Watt May 19, 2013, 3:27 am

        So i would still be fined anyway? Would you know how much should I expect in the case of France?

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        • VagabondJourney May 19, 2013, 5:36 am

          The only countries that we have received reports of fining overstayers are Switzerland and Greece. We have not yet heard of France issuing fines. It is actually rare for France to even give. bans.

          Link Reply
          • Watt May 20, 2013, 4:22 am

            That is a relief to hear, I know that France has a program that actually helps overstayers to go back to their country with dignity, i.e not being escorted to the plane, but I am not sure they would accept a reason like depression (I wasn’t able to collect insurance from my sessions with my psychiatrist). I am so glad I could finally go home and start over with my life. Thank you very much for the reassurance.

            Link Reply
            • ut1ge1 May 31, 2013, 2:57 am


              Have you been able to come back to yout home country? Have you had any problem with the immigrant ifficer at the airport?

              Thanks for your feedback,

              Link Reply
  • traveller August 15, 2013, 4:37 pm

    is it $550 Euros or USD ?

    Link Reply
    • VagabondJourney August 16, 2013, 12:52 am

      Neither. Swiss Money.

      Link Reply
      • BANGUS BALUT June 23, 2014, 6:43 pm


        Link Reply
  • Athina January 18, 2014, 2:53 pm

    Hi to everyone,
    I overstayed my 90 days in Switzerland on 45 days based on a new rule (90/180 counting 6 month back from the last visit). The reason is i had no idea about that new rule and always count every single day. So according to the old rules i still had 4 days left. The officer gave me a paper with adress and information that i can be banned etc…Does anyone had a similar case? What kind of penalty i can get? also I’m holding another passport with a new visa for one year, will i have any problems entering eu countries?

    Many thanks for any information

    Link Reply
    • Wade Shepard January 18, 2014, 11:11 pm

      There is nothing new about this rule. It’s been in place for well over a decade.

      All of your questions are answered in this article and in the other comments.

      Link Reply
  • BANGUS BALUT June 23, 2014, 6:42 pm

    Why would the UK care if you overstayed in the EU?

    Oh, and most countries do not care if you overstay. They usually just ask for like a US$20 fine.

    Link Reply
    • VagabondJourney June 23, 2014, 7:59 pm

      Both of your assumptions are not correct. We’ve consulted hundreds who have been banned for overstaying. Also, the UK passively assists with Schengen immigration, and will sometimes deny entry to travelers who have overstayed.

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  • Julia December 28, 2015, 7:31 am

    Hi Wade, are you still answering private questions about the schengen visa if a donation is made? I need advice. Thanks

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  • Justin124 January 22, 2016, 1:52 am

    my name is justin my brother in law just passed away 2 days ago he’s from denmark his wife which is my sisten badly need me to help her with her kids so she’s planning to invite me to denmark as a tourist because she doesnt family aside from her husband is it possible to extend my 3 months stay just in case? to help her move on at the same time help her to take care of the children? please answer need answer so bad

    Link Reply
  • dee08 February 25, 2017, 7:56 am

    hi my name is dee, a filipino citizen with abu dhabi residence permit. me and my family went to france with a tourist schengen visa issued from uae, due to my work i returned back to abu dhabi without my husband and child, they ovestayed their schengen visa and hasn’t come back to abu dhabi or philippines yet. I sponsored all the expenses of the trip including air ticket, hotel booking etc. and as a mother of the child i am the one taken picture in behalf of my child during biometrics. because they overstayed their schengen visa would there be a penalty or ban for me as a mother of the child and sponsor of thr trip? thanks

    Link Reply
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