≡ Menu

Returning to Italy After Overstaying a Visa

Can I return to Italy after overstaying my visa and only being out of the Schengen zone for two weeks? First off, it is very easy for immigration officials to tell if you overstayed your visa, when you exited, and when you are permitted to return. This is what they do all day. The question [...]

Support VBJ’s writing on this blog:

Can I return to Italy after overstaying my visa and only being out of the Schengen zone for two weeks?

First off, it is very easy for immigration officials to tell if you overstayed your visa, when you exited, and when you are permitted to return. This is what they do all day. The question is whether they care or not if an American tourist has overstayed and should not be permitted reentry. This is a BIG question, as some countries in the Schengen zone will add up the days and, in your case, may deny you entry, while others will just see the golden eagle printed on your navy blue passport and pretty much just wave you through.

As of now, Italy is extremely lenient on overstayers and those who re-enter prior to when they are suppose to. The catch is that many flights going in and out of Italy have transfers in other Schengen countries (such as Germany and Switzerland). It is the first country in the Schengen zone that your flight lands in upon arrival that you will go through immigration in. Likewise, when departing, it is the last country in the zone that your flight leaves from that you will go through exit immigration. If you go through immigration in Germany or Italy you more than likely WILL be busted — they are very adept at their jobs there.

Now, in your case, if you do reenter the Schengen zone in two weeks, you will be doing so on the first visa you received this summer, and you will be, essentially, overstaying the same visa a second time. The Schengen C visa is valid for 180 days from your initial entry, of which you can stay 90 days.

If you choose to do this, there are three obstacles in your path:

1. When checking in for your flight in Japan. I have not yet received a report of airlines checking through a traveler’s visa stamps and calculating if you are permitted to re-enter the Schengen zone, but I would not doubt if they start doing so in the future. In point, airlines now receive huge fines if they fly a person to a country and they are denied entry for not having the proper visa or are otherwise not legally able to enter the country. There is a small risk that they will check this, but they could — you are going back to Europe on the same “visa.”

Also, keep in mind that you could be denied entry for not having an onward ticket away from your destination (Italy) at the time of check in.

2. When entering the Schengen zone again you can be denied entry. This would suck. If your flight is going direct to Italy, the chances of this happening are pretty slim, but if your flight transfers in Germany or Switzerland the probability that this could happen grows greatly.

3. When exiting the Schengen zone after this visit to Italy you can be caught. If you go back you will just be adding days on to your previous overstay.

The typical penalty for overstaying a Schengen visa is a three year ban from the region. Switzerland and Greece gives bans as well as fines. Keep in mind that immigration in the region is becoming much better at enforcing these bans too.

In your question you mentioned traveling to the UK. Keep in mind that the UK is not a part of the Schengen zone (though they do sometimes assist with the enforcement of their immigration laws), and you should be clear to enter there if flying from Japan.

My advice is to not chance being banned and to stay out of the region for at least 91 days from your last exit. Consider yourself lucky for getting out of the region after overstaying. To return now is to put yourself back into the same stew you just crawled out of. Even though the chances of being busted if going directly to Italy and flying on a direct flight out of Italy to the USA is slim, it may not be worth the risk for two more weeks. It is your call though.

Original question about returning to Italy after overstaying visa

One quick question: In light of your former comment about the “stupid 90-day in, 90-day out rule”, etc. (Ha Ha !), I have a U.S. passport, and I have travelled in Europe this Summer to many various countries, all Schengen, with no single country more than a 3-week stay (All by rail, with no passport stamps) though the total time spent in Europe was “considerably more” than 90 days. I recently left Italy two weeks ago and flew to Tokyo, Japan (With no problems), and I have a return flight ticket to Italy (From Tokyo), arriving in Italy in two more weeks. I plan to purchase a one-way ticket back to the U.S. after staying In Italy for an additional three weeks of tourism. Is Italy generally better for flying back into, in this situation, than Germany, England, or Switzerland ? In other words, what is the likelihood of a customs agent (In Italy) pulling out a calculator and attempting to “compute 90 days in, 90 days out”, etc., etc., particularly with many various passport stamps, including the recent exit from Italy to Japan, and exit from Japan to italy ?

And, finally, if this should become a “problem”, what might be the general consequences in this type of situation for violating, as you humorously termed it, this “stupid 90-day in, 90-day out” rule ?
( L O L ).
Thank you very much !

Do you have a Schengen visa question?

If so, then take a look at our Schengen visa community forum. It is specifically for people who have questions or concerns related to Europe’s Schengen immigration zone.


Filed under: Europe, Italy, Visas

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 90 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 3691 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

Support VBJ’s writing on this blog:

VBJ is currently in: Trenton, Maine

7 comments… add one

Leave a Comment

  • Jehona July 10, 2012, 2:26 pm

    URGENT! Can anyone tell me if my visa is valid only until 22 July, 2012, and I embark on 22 of July at 23:00 h (11 PM), in Bari in Italy with the intention of leaving the schengen area and the boat goes to a non-schengen country such as Montenegro, will it be considered from the officials in the ferry that I am overstaying my schengen visa since I do not know when the boat will leave the waters of Italy and enter another country? Please help. This is just a vacation but one day matters to us.

    Link Reply
    • Vagabond Journey Guides July 11, 2012, 7:01 am

      Just so you clear immigration prior to your visa expiring you should be alright. Italian waters mean nothing.

      Link Reply
      • Jehona July 11, 2012, 8:24 am

        Thank you so much. I will make sure to arrive a bit earlier so I can do all the clearing on time.

        Link Reply
  • Cristian August 2, 2012, 7:30 pm

    Hi, I’m pretty sure you must be a little tired of the same ol’ question over and over again, but this is really the best site I’ve found about this subject and travelling in general. Very nice work. My situation is like this. I’ve been in Europe for 2 1/2 months. I came to France to visit some relatives. I plan to stay 4 months in total. At the end I will be leaving from France to my country with an overstay of one month. I already have the plane ticket back. I’ve come to realize about the seriousness of this issue just now. Also the internet can be a rich source of information but also a very confusing and sometimes misleading place. I’ve been travelling a little, I was in Poland and Italy. Before I leave, I want to go to Germany, and probably Amsterdam too, but of course I would be staying there probably for more than 2 weeks, hence overstaying my visa before coming back to france. My questions are: Should I be woried about staying in Germany after my visa has espired, will they check this at the airport coming back to france or going to amsterdam? I mean, the real quetion is…is it safe to travel inside the Schengen area without any trouble even thou I will be already overstaying by some days or weeks? are the possible problems only there when I get out of the schengen zone? Is it a better idea to travel by train between countries? Is it helpful that I have my plane ticket back to my country with me to show them in case I have any trouble? I’m from south america, but my country doesn’t need visa, just like the Sates, the 3 month rule. I know that it seems that it all depends a little bit on luck, but most posts I’ve seen are old, so it would be great to be more calm about this because I am a little worried about this. Thanks a lot in advance. Its very inspiring the life you have, it gives me thoughts about becoming a traveller too some day, but well, better get straight with this situation here first. Best. Cristian

    Link Reply
    • Wade Shepard August 2, 2012, 7:45 pm

      You shouldn’t be overstaying your visa. Punto.

      Link Reply
  • E.L.B. July 15, 2019, 6:09 pm

    Not sure if these comments are checked regularly but I just realized today that I was adding up my Shengen days wrong and have overstayed my visa. I thought I had 18 extra days when actually I am 10 days over.

    I’m going to leave the country immediately in the morning and call an embassy but was wondering if you knew anything about the best way to handle/fix/apologize/etc. I completely understand how serious this is and if I had realized my mistake sooner would have left in time. There is a lot of information online but it isn’t really clear what to do to try and handle the situation + would really love to not get banned from Europe for 5 years (I’m an avid traveler)!!

    Link Reply
    • Wade Shepard July 16, 2019, 8:20 am

      There isn’t really anything you can do but leave and hope you don’t get caught. We’ve never received a report of someone going to the embassy, etc and explaining the situation having any success. It’s our impression that it’s better to just leave and then not return for an extended amount of time.

      Link Reply