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Where Not to Exit Europe if Overstayed Visa

Overstayed visa, caught when leaving Zurich by air — “when I try to go back to France or Italy in a few months (I have no intention of returning to Swiss)? Will the Swiss put my name on some list and I be barred from entry, with no legal hearing or notice? It makes sense [...]

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Overstayed visa, caught when leaving Zurich by air — “when I try to go back to France or Italy in a few months (I have no intention of returning to Swiss)? Will the Swiss put my name on some list and I be barred from entry, with no legal hearing or notice?

It makes sense that you were busted on the second leg of your flight, as this would be the portion that would “check you out” of the region. It is just unfortunate that your flight path went from Italy through Zurich on the way back to the USA.

As you have already found out, Switzerland and Germany are two of the most strict countries in the Schengen region about penalizing travelers who overstay their visa.

Though I do fear that the entire region will be just as vigilant in a matter of a few years. It seems as if a “fortress Schengen” is being put up, and I can see the strict countries pressuring the non strict ones to tighten up their border controls very soon. It is my feelings that un-penalized visa overstays in Europe, regardless of your country of origin, will soon be a thing of the past. We can only hope that they Schengen authorities will soon give travelers the option of obtaining a tourist visa that is for a longer duration than 90 out of 180 days.

To answer your question, I have been given reports that once you overstay — especially in Zurich — your information is entered into the computer databases and it will make it much more difficult for you to obtain visas in the future. I have had letters come in from people who overstayed and then could not later get a visa to reenter.

But, on the bright side, the only information that I have received about travelers being denied visas after overstaying had to do with trying to get student visas, and not those who just showed up as tourists. I have not yet received a confirmed story of a traveler being denied at the border requesting a tourist visa after an overstay.

Though keep in mind that just because I have not heard of this does not mean that it doesn’t happen. It probably does happen sometimes. I can only provide you with the information that I have.

The information that travelers receive subsequent to getting caught overstaying their visas is often very vague — like in your situation — and they do not know if they are banned from the Schengen region, and, if so, for how long.

I read the slip of paper that they gave you:

Based on the established facts and your statement, the appropriate authorities may consider the imposition of a measure to prevent your entry. For the purposes of a legal hearing, you will be given the opportunity to comment on a possible imposition of a refusal of entry.

What the f’ck does this mean? I interpret it as follows:

“You may or may not be denied entry to Europe based upon the mood and disposition of the particular immigration official in the particular country that you happen to try reentry in.”

I do know that many people are readmitted to Europe without hassle on tourist visas after overstaying. Many just pay a fine when they leave and they are free to reenter three months later, though it is not my impression that they were given that vague slip of paper from the immigration when leaving. I only know of one circumstance when a Mexican traveler was given a ban that expressively stated how long the ban would be for.

For everybody else it seems to be a wishy washy endeavor.

One thing that you could do is call the Swiss consulate in the USA and ask them what is going on. Check to find out if they can tell you where you stand — if you are banned, and, if so, for how long.

Or you can just show up to Europe. This is probably the only way to really find out if you are banned. It is my impression that you stand a good chance of being readmitted without any problem. Just make sure you are out of the region for at least 90 days. Many travelers who are caught overstaying are allowed back.

The language of the document that the Swiss gave you seems pretty vague. It does not directly state that you are banned, and it gives no duration of time that you need to be outside of the region before being allowed to return.

It is my impression that you may very well be taken into the little infamous interrogation box when trying to pass through immigration the next time you return to Europe. There is a good chance that the Swiss entered your data into the Schengen Information System.

All that I recommend is that you have an air tight plan for traveling when you reenter. Have an itinerary (it doesn’t have to be your real one) printed out that has the names and the addresses of the hotels/ hostels that you “plan” to stay at. I would also recommend that you have at least your first night of accommodation booked ahead of time and carry a printed receipt with you. I would also recommend that you bring a bank statement with you that proves that you have enough money to last your stay, as well as a couple credit cards.

Also choose your entrance country appropriately, and check out the flight path you will be traveling on. As you know, you may go through immigration in the country where you enter the Schengen region, rather than the one of your final destination. So be careful if you have to transfer flights in the Schengen.

As of now, February 14, 2010, Italy and France both seem pretty lenient as far as immigration goes for Westerners. Though this could all change overnight.

This is a difficult question, as there are so many inconsistent variables at play. Please let us know what happens, as many travelers ask questions similar to yours and I want to give them the best information possible.

More information
Schengen Visa on Travel Help
Visa questions on the community forum

Walk Slow,



Original question about being allowed back in Europe after being caught overstaying in Switzerland

I stayed in France and Italy for more than 180 days, I flew out of Rome via Zurich, back to the USA. On the way through Zurich, the passport control took me aside, said I had stayed too long in Shengen and handed me a piece of paper with a two sentence statement written in about 20 languages, “Based on the established facts and your statement, the appropriate authorities may consider the imposition of a measure to prevent your entry. For the purposes of a legal hearing, you will be given the opportunity to comment on a possible imposition of a refusal of entry.” I refused to sign it, but they did put my passport number on it and gave me a copy and I assume it is filed somewhere. The officer then asked me to fax my explanation to him within seven days. I did fax a medical explanation, but I have not heard anything back, not even acknowledging receipt of fax.. So, what does this mean for me, when I try to go back to France or Italy in a few months (I have no intention of returning to Swiss)? Will the Swiss put my name on some list and I be barred from entry, with no legal hearing or notice?

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, Italy, Schengen Visas, Switzerland, Travel Help, 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.

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119 comments… add one

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  • dr28rc February 28, 2010, 7:58 am

    Hi Wade, I’ve spent the last hour reading a lot of your posts trying to find appropriate advice. I’ve been in Italy since September 2009. I entered Schengen through Paris (CDG airport) and took a train into Italy. I’ve been working here since October 2009 and I won’t be leaving until May 2010. I am planning on buying a ticket leaving Europe from Rome (FCO airport) through Canada and finally back to the States. According to your experiences and knowledge, do you think I’ll face any trouble in leaving? I also want to apply for a student visa to come back and study here…do you think there will be any trouble obtaining the student visa? I’ve considered getting a new passport to remove any “stamp track”, but I don’t know how effective that would be.

    Any advice is greatly appreciated.

    Walking slow,


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  • sophie March 15, 2010, 3:35 am

    Hey you sound like you know alot about the matter.
    I want to go to barcelona for a year coz its to friggn hard to get a visa.Is spain another leanient country that doesnt stamp your passport on the way in. also im an australian so weni come back to Australia will i get pulled aside at the australian airport and get busted

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    • fghjk May 17, 2010, 7:32 pm

      If you’re Australian you shouldn’t have a problem getting a long-term visa for the UK (unless you’re a crim with a record). Once you’re in the UK you can travel around in Europe, but if I understand it right not legally work on the continent (dunno exactly since I am European and am free to go wherever in the EU/UK). Just get your act together and do the paperwork. Most Aussies I met in Europe went to London to earn some cash and then travel the continent. As for the Australian customs: They give a s*&^ if you overstayed your welcome in another country. You’ll get into trouble if you overstay (or caught whilst working without permit) when you leave the EU unless you’re lucky.

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  • erinmcc September 29, 2010, 11:04 pm


    I was just wondering if anyone could help me out on this…
    last year i visited australia on a 1 year working holiday visa, subsequently when this visa ran out i overstayed by 3 months, stupid i know! well basically on my departure i was advised id be banned for 3 years. Anyway this was on my british passport, however i currently hold 2 passports as my mum is canadian and i was born there so i was awarded dual citizenship. I am hoping to return to australia nxt month on a 3 month tourist vis, i wont overstay this time! But im worried that although ill be going in on a different passport will they be able to see at immigration that ive been banned, for example will my name date of birth etc be on their database?

    any advice on this would be great!

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    • Wade | Vagabondjourney.com October 1, 2010, 9:04 am

      I have heard of people trying to return to countries from which they have been banned with different passports and still being denied entry, but I would not take this as being a fool proof statement that you will get busted. I say leave the British passport at home, and try it. But a lot of this depends on how much data they compiled on you when you were banned the last time.

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  • American Gal November 4, 2010, 5:06 pm

    I am a student studying in the Netherlands for 5 months. As I am a US citizen, I am allowed to stay here for 90 days but if I decide to overstay without getting a residence permit, what penalties will I face? Has anyone had a similar student experience where they were able to overstay without any penalties?

    The main reason why I decided not to get a permit is because since it takes so long to arrive (3-4months), I wouldn’t get it until the very end of my trip anyway. Has anyone traveled while in the process of applying for a permit? Did you run into problems with security?

    The sooner the response the better. Thanks!

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    • Maddie November 16, 2010, 2:28 am

      I would definately try and get this visa from your home country. Last year I started studying in Schengen and figured I would get my visa a little later into the 90 days, but it turned out that I needed some paperwork and signatures that only govt offices back home could provide. I didn’t have the time to collect these before my 90 days were up so I never applied for my student visa, left through Switz and am not allowed back for 2.5 years.

      GET THE VISA BEFORE YOU LEAVE HOME. But it sounds like you’re already in Schengen zone..?

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  • Chicken November 7, 2010, 12:06 pm

    Can someone help me.
    So i dont know if i am putting this in the right place but hopefully someone answers.
    I have just been denied entry into Spain through Girona (wow the cops there dont joke). So i got a bann last year through SWITZERLAND (never to go through there again). Now i was told similar things as others on this site. I was told if i was to get a fine then i would be notified. So was not notified and the following year applied for a UK visa with no problems. At this point i thought the matter was over. Wrong so they stopped me at Spain a few days ago. I have been moving quite freely around the EU since Feb with no problems until now.
    So I need to get back in.
    I have a few Questions if anyone has some answers.
    1 If i go to the UK do you think they will cause me fus?
    2 Do you think the Swiss are likely to life the ban?
    3 If i get back into the UK do you think i could fly somewhere else in the EU and try and cross by foot?
    4 Do you think the Italians will be on to me if i try and fly back to a small airport in Italy
    5 Also do you think i could fly out of Morocco?

    I have a lot of question and dont have much advice right now. I am having to wait until the embassies open up after the weekend. Why are they only open for ‘( seconds a day one day a week and only every leap year?)
    Help please
    Could use some advice

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    • Wade | Vagabondjourney.com November 9, 2010, 10:12 am

      Hello Chicken,

      Thanks for sharing your experience.

      1. The UK is not a part of the Schengen region, but they do assist with immigration enforcement. If you do go back there after being caught overstaying your visa they could deny you entry or take other enforcement measures.

      2. Time in the UK does not count towards time in the Schengen region. You said that you were in the EU since February, how much of this time was in the Schengen zone? Did you get caught overstaying twice, or was the time in Spain because you previously overstayed?

      3. The ban is generally for three years. It should be lifted automatically at this time, but you never know.

      4. I would not dare try to re-enter the Schengen zone for a long time, especially crossing illegally by foot. It seems as if you have been caught there illegally twice, I do not know what they do to repeat offenders, but illegally crossing into a country can get you a prison sentence.

      5. It is very likely that at any point you try to re-enter the Schengen zone they will run your passport and find out that you are banned from the region.

      6. You could enter and fly out of Morocco, but I would recommend staying away from the Schengen zone.

      7. Where are you now? Did the Spanish authorities deport you, or are you still in Spain?

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  • KMD November 26, 2010, 12:57 am


    I entered the UK with a tourist visa with the intention of spending my vacation here at Manchester and also shopping. I entered through Gatwick but at the airport i was extensively questioned for over four hours, made to go through x-ray scanning, finger printing, several interviews, extensive search of my luggage, diaries etc. Nothing related to me having any connection with anybody in the UK was found.

    Thereafter i was further detained in a room there at the airport and made to fill and sign deportee/ detainee forms but after about 4 hrs of waiting, the immigration officer walked up to me where i was delayed and handed over my passport to me and told me i could go but i noticed that a coded permit to enter (Code 3) was stamped on my passport.

    Can someone tell me why all these and the implication of this to my subsequent entry and visa applications.


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  • Leela November 27, 2010, 3:39 pm

    Hi I’m an American. If my 1 year ‘long stay’ visa for France expired am I still able to stay in the Schengen area for 90 days? In other words, am I automatically on the 90 day tourist visa now?

    Thank you so much!!!

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    • Wade | Vagabondjourney.com November 29, 2010, 9:11 am

      It is my impression that you are given 90 days in other Schengen countries in addition to the country where you have your temp residency permit (what I assume you have). When your permit expires you do not become a tourist, you have to leave the Schengen immigration zone. Though I do believe that you can exit the region and return again right away (not having to be out for 90 days) and be given a tourist visa.

      There are many different interpretations to the Schengen immigration laws, this is just my own.

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  • ashley December 2, 2010, 5:47 am

    I will be leaving europe thru amsterdam on the weekend, and I have overstayed my visa by 7 months. I havent been working I have been with my boyfriend here and basically just travelling around and spending time with him. How are the dutch customs? think they will ban me?

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    • Wade | Vagabondjourney.com December 2, 2010, 9:41 am

      There is a good chance that you will be processed and may receive a ban. From the reports that I receive, the Netherlands appears to have a functioning system for punishing overstayers, though not with same vigilance as Germany or Switzerland. In point, some people are still getting through Dutch exit immigration without being busted for overstaying, and some aren’t. It is still a crap shoot there.

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  • ashley December 2, 2010, 5:48 am

    sorry I am canadian and returning to canada

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  • Simon Coleman December 6, 2010, 8:31 pm

    Oh. I think overstaying your visa in any country will cause problems in the future. If not banned from that country you will certainly be scrutinized. It is not worth the risk. In some countries it is a daily fine, but every now and then they up the anti. It is not work it. Do not overstay your visa.

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  • Richard Dillon December 23, 2010, 1:09 am

    Dutch immigration definitely checks. I would avoid it if I’ve been overstaying.

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  • jessica January 3, 2011, 5:38 am

    hi im in germany with my husband that is in the usaf we have not summited our command sponsorship my passport is only allowing me to stay 90 days im almost 30 days overstayed i dont want to leave him he still has over a year left in Germany but we also dont want to put the command sponsorship papers in either bc they will add a year am i okay to go home now for 90 days and come back or is their a visa i can get when i go home that will allow me to stay a lot long???? please someone fill me in with some very helpful information PLEASEEEEE thank you

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    • Wade | Vagabondjourney.com January 3, 2011, 9:47 am


      Answered this question on another page, sent an email with the link.

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    • Nat March 29, 2011, 10:53 am


      Have you left yet?
      If so what happened to you, I am in your EXACT position and I am very afraid

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  • Mathieu January 10, 2011, 1:00 am

    I have travelled extensively and overstaying your visa in any country incurs penalities of various degrees. Do not overstay!

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  • yvonne spencer January 12, 2011, 1:32 pm

    hi i have gone over my visa by 4 months..i been livingon the streets in a america ..and my family are going to buy me a ticket to get home..just want to no will i have to get inconact with the custombefore i travel or the english embassy..just wantto go home dont want to be stop..dont care about a ban ..can anyone help me please yvonne

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    • Wade | Vagabondjourney.com January 12, 2011, 2:52 pm

      Where are you? Your comment says America but this post is about Europe. If you don’t care about a ban and can’t afford to pay a fine, I would not worry too much. Just leave normally, should not be given too much trouble — countries like people leaving haha.

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  • Cee Dee February 9, 2011, 3:25 am

    Hello all,

    I have a similar question. I am having trouble extending my French visa from a worker to a visitor for one extra month. From there I would like to travel the UK, so the question really is, will I have a big problem? I know that if I am leaving France, they shouldn’t be too annoyed (but yes, there is a still a possibility of a fine etc) but I can always say I am connecting home from the UK. My big worry is UK customs… will they detain me, send me home immediately or not let me travel in the UK? If anyone has experience, please let me know!

    Thank you,

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    • Cee Dee February 9, 2011, 3:29 am

      Sorry, I would like to travel into the UK after the one extra month in France…

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      • Wade | Vagabondjourney.com February 11, 2011, 11:52 am

        Bad move. Don’t overstay. Rather, leave the region and return. It is my interpretation that if you are in the Schengen on a work visa you can leave and return almost immediately for a tourist visa. Again, this is my interpretation of the immigration laws, I have not tried this myself. This would be way better than overstaying.

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    • Wade | Vagabondjourney.com February 11, 2011, 11:50 am

      Can’t extend the visa. If you overstay in Schengen the UK works to enforce its policy. They MAY send you back to France for “punishment.” This happens, though rarely. If you are caught and punished, expect a three year ban. Though France tends to be a little lax about this.

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  • Fred February 13, 2011, 9:12 pm

    I was detained leaving Amsterdam after overstaying my 90 days by several months. I was told I might get a Schengen notification and maybe not. I did not sign anything and I was not given anything. I returned twice after that for short visits over the next few months. On my third attempt I was detained and not allowed to enter the country. I was told it was Dutch notification only. I contacted and paid a Dutch attorney to verify this and to ask what I could do to get the notification lifted. He contacted the Dutch INS and they confirmed it was a Dutch notification only and said I had been lucky on the first two visits after the problem. So, I booked a ticket to Brussels and upon arriving there I was denied entry and told then it was a Schengen notification and I was forced to return to the UK which allowed me in, before returning the USA. It is a three year ban. They will not budge. My only excuse for overstaying was taking bad advice from a travel agent. He made it clear as long as I did not stay in any one country for more then 3 months that I would be fine. He did not know what he was talking about and I was foolish for not learning more. I was never arrested, questioned, or caused any problems of any kind in any country I was a guest in. I always had an American address and enough money to take care of myself. It blows my mind that I am not allowed back for three years.

    It’s a new world and travel isn’t fun anymore. I like being there I just don’t like getting there.

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    • Wade | Vagabondjourney.com February 16, 2011, 9:40 am

      Hello Fred,

      Thanks for sharing this information. Euro immigration is real screwed in the head, so to speak — there are so many different interpretations of immigration law that it is difficult to get hard and solid information. It blows my mind that the Dutch told you that your penalty for overstaying was only for the Netherlands, as, technically speaking, Dutch INS should be the same as the region as a whole — Schengen INS. This, unfortunately turned out to be the case.

      Thanks again for sharing this information, as your case clearly shows that overstays are logged into computer databases that can be readily accessed by immigration officials throughout the Schengen region. This was a topic of debate across this site at one time.

      Sorry to hear about your 3 year ban. Yes, far too many people are giving bad information about Schengen immigration, and the authorities do not help their case by being extremely inconsistent in how they enforce their official policy. The Schengen 90 days in, 90 days out restriction use to be a joke for travelers with class A passports — there was once a time when none of us got busted — but these days are gone. While it is common for overstayers to not be punished — you entered the Neatherlands twice after overstaying without difficulty — this is no longer a general rule. Many travelers are getting the 3 year slap.

      This is a real sorry state of affairs for Europe — as what is a traveler doing there but spending their money anyway? I understand their position of strengthening their immigration, trying to discourage illegal work, and punishing overstayers, but 90 days for 20 something countries is a complete joke.

      The world of travel is changing, I did a series on it at The Extermination of the Backpacker.

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      • Fred February 17, 2011, 9:13 am

        Well, I have had my Dutch attorney write them again and explain that they had confirmed it was a Dutch only notification in writing. We are requesting a complete reimbursement for my trip to Brussels as it was planned and made based on the information they supplied. So I hope to get into their pocket books at least. Maybe they will realize that such a stupid policy not only keeps money spending visitors out, but costs them money when they fuck up too. I have a girlfriend in Amsterdam and she has traveled to see me 6 times now in the last year. We spend all the money here instead of there.

        I could tell you about the third visit when they made me spend the night, gave me hell, THEN, gave me my passport back and told me the gate to report to. Instead I went to the nearest passport control away from the assholes that harassed me and guess what? I got through anyway. My friends say I have the biggest balls of anyone they know. It goes to show you how big the hole really is. So then I was worried about leaving but lucky for me the volcano in Iceland blew one last time causing chaos and confusion on my travel day home. No problem with that exit and using my old passport.

        My passport was stolen and even the replacement did not help me get through. They look you up by your name, not your number.

        When I was detained in Brussels for 12 hours I got to try their security about a dozen times. I managed to smuggle 10 liters of open bottle water through. As well as some other highly illegal items I won’t describe. Again, the whole security thing is a sham. It is only for looks, as it really does not work at all. If I was dishonest and or meant harm, I would have no problem exploiting the giant gaps and holes that exist in their system. Luckily for them I am not.

        So I will be able to travel freely again in less then a year and half. I can’t wait to fuck with them. And I will.

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  • Mac March 22, 2011, 8:32 am

    A lot of it depends on how combative you are with the officials and how you present yourself I’d imagine.

    Wade, if you fly out safely from a Schaengen territory with no hassle, is there a chance they filed something on you anyway without telling? It seems everyone who has been banned has been confronted, detained, and notified.

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    • Wade | Vagabondjourney.com March 22, 2011, 10:52 am

      Good call about how your presentation, responses, and disposition when going through immigration sometimes affects how you are processed.

      Correct, very often if you are logged into the SIS as an overstayer you at least had some kind of irregular interaction with the immigration officials. Either they momentarily detain you, take a copy of your passport, give you forms to fill out, a lecture — something often happens to cue you in that you may have been processed as an overstayer, even if the official does not tell you direction that this has happened. Many travelers have reported here that they were caught overstaying and the immigration official told them that they could return to the region only to be denied entry.

      Though if you get out without any bumps in the road through immigration chances are you were not logged into the SIS and are free to reenter.

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      • rony March 29, 2012, 12:01 am

        hi wade i was in schengen zone. iam indian citizen i came to EU with tourist visa (italian tourist visa) from kuwait, i was overstayed in france 4 years, and one day immigration authorities caught me and i was in detention 32 days, 2009 they caught me, now iam in india
        the authorites told me there is no ban for me, i can re enter, but they took my fingerprints they will store my file in the database? so if i apply for italian student visa(its not schengen visa) it is ok?

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  • Jed March 25, 2011, 3:48 pm

    I traveled to Europe in October 2009. I overstayed my visa by 7 months. When I left Amsterdam, they did not say anything. I had a layover in Iceland (I am American). They just asked me how long I had been there and kind of seemed confused when I said how long but then they asked me where I was going and I said home so they let me on, no lecture, no forms, no mark on my passport. So I read that if they didn’t seem to take note I probably won’t have any problems.

    However, I’m a little worried- I need to return to the Netherlands next week to see a friend. I have a layover in Frankfurt, and I’ve also read on this website that German immigration officials are quite difficult sometimes.

    So, two questions: Will I have to go through immigration in the Frankfurt airport? I have an hour layover there and then fly to Amsterdam.
    Also, any advice on how to charm either the German or Dutch officials?? My friend is suffering and I would really like to be able to get through.

    Thanks for having this website.

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  • SRP March 28, 2011, 4:25 am

    I have a sticky situation.
    I am interning at an international organisation in Geneva and thus have a Cartes de Legitimation, I’m appointed for 4 months. My wife, as my spouse, is here on a spouse visa but does not get a Carte as I am an intern, not a permanent employee. Her Visa expires at the start of May, I finish in mid June. We are both Australian.
    So my question is: if she stays with me to the middle of June and we leave together (perhaps from France, by train, back to the UK and then out to Australia): is it likely she will be stamped as an overstayer? (ie by 6 weeks).

    The critical issue is we are both planning to return to the UK next year (ie mid 2012) to do research/ be students in the UK, and we really don’t want to jeapordise that.

    Any thoughts would be gratefully appreciated as no one in this place seems to actually know what the rules are.

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  • firegirl March 29, 2011, 1:47 pm


    I have almost the exact same problem as you. I overstayed 2 years-and flew out of CDG and had an overlay in Iceland. They questioned me- and told me what I did was wrong. They said I was lucky because if it been anywhere else- I’d have been banned. They told me not to come back for 90 days. I got the normal exit stamp and I went on my way. I know that they guy took a copy of my passport..

    Now it’s been half a year and i need to go back. I’m nervous. I’ve been reading Italy and France are the safest places to get into.. but it feels like since I’ve been gone 90 days and more- with a normal stamp.. that I should be okay?

    I am even wondering I should fly into the UK or Turkey – and than fly into the S zone.

    Let me know if you find out anything!

    ps. I know a girl who overstayed her american tourist visa in the Netherlands- working as illegal au pair – she left with no problems and came back 3 weeks later- they let her in without problem. Guess she got lucky.
    I know another girl who overstayed also as an Au Pair and she was arrested and banned for 5 years after only overstaying a month.. I don’t remember where they caught her.

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    • Wade | Vagabondjourney.com March 30, 2011, 8:11 am

      This last paragraph shows the biggest problem with Schengen immigration: the inconsistency of the application of its rules in regard to overstays. Lots of people overstay, are not punished, and return without difficulty; while others are caught, banned, and denied entry if trying to return.

      Travelers have written in here that they overstayed, were banned, returned twice without incident but on the third time were denied entry and deported, while others are never caught, and still others think they got out without a problem just to try to return and be denied entry.

      I feel for all of you fighting this Schengen game. I get hundreds of emails, stories, questions, and comments about travelers having overstay issues in the Schengen zone every month, and find that I can only give crap shoot advice: you may be caught, you may not be. It is all a dice roll, but I do tell you this: if immigration mentions and overstay at all and takes a copy of your passport (even if they say you are not banned or anything) be very cautious when you return: as they often toss your details into the SIS (immigration database) anyway and some member states may deny you entry. In fact, take anything any official or consulate tells you about their own immigration laws worth a grain of salt: it is real awful, but they don’t seem to know their own rules or how other countries within the region will interpret them. The inconsistencies and various interpretations here are mind blowing — Europe seems to be getting a real power trip off of their very stringent immigration laws, and I feel empathy for the traveler who gets in the way of this.

      My advice is to just not overstay — no matter what — if possible. You can still be in the Schengen zone for 180 days per year, so get to know Morocco, Turkey, and the Balkans real well with the other 180 days.

      Again, if you try to exit the region after overstaying from Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands, Iceland, or Sweden, expect potential difficulties. France and, especially, Italy seem to be way more lax, exit from there.

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  • karol c April 5, 2011, 2:42 am


    I am studying at the moment in Italy on a tourist visa, I am an Australian and Mexican citizen so I have both passports I don’t have a student visa because the school did tell me that I did not need to go to the embassy….I know very stupid.
    My options are to get an Italian student visa in Mexico or in Australia guess Mexico is a much cheaper option since I am already in Europe,but Mexican embassy in Australia said that I should not share my parents income information in Mexico since it’s risky if someone sees my parents income.. So Im scared of showing all my personal details in Mexico.

    I came to Europe with my Australian passport and I am planning on leaving schnegen so I won’t overstay thing is I need to get back to finish my course and I am planning to go to Mexico for a week or so and then come back to Europe with my Mexican passport from Mexico is it rational to do this? or would they know I am the same person with a different passport??…
    Please any advice would be appreciated….

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    • Wade | Vagabondjourney.com April 7, 2011, 12:35 pm

      This may not be an “officially” legit way of getting back to Europe but it should work. Just have a tourist “itinerary” planned in case the immigration official questions you. If you don’t have an overstay on your record it is my impression that the electronic tracking of travelers is a little less stringent.

      In terms of applying for a student visa for Europe while in Mexico, it is my impression that MANY prospective foreign students show their family’s economic record. They seem to just want to know that your family could financially come to your aid if you need them and that you are not planning to go to Europe for illegal work. Basically, they just want to make sure you come from an upper class family. If you don’t then option A would probably work best.

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  • Rachel April 22, 2011, 11:33 pm

    Ok… all of this information is peaking my interest…. can someone tell me about long stay visa’s in Italy???
    i am going to italy as an aupair in the summer… however I would like to go back next year and be there for an entire year… I was told by the Italian consulate that “long stay visa’s are for retired people who own property in italy” … I was also told by the consulate that if I overstay my visa this summer and do a language program for the period that I am overstaying – there will be no problems… I trust that.

    But I don’t trust the long-stay visa information that I received. Is this really true about it only being for foreign land owners? How do I get a long-stay visa? ADVICE PLEASE!!!!!!!

    (this is so confusing… why can’t the world be simpler?!! haha)


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    • Wade | Vagabondjourney.com April 23, 2011, 7:20 am

      It is not the world that is complicated, it is Europe and their convoluted immigration system. What the consulate told you is basically correct — there is no way to get a longer stay visa for what you propose to do unless you have your employers go through the process of getting you a work visa, which is not likely. In terms of overstaying, it is a crap shoot. The Italians tell everyone that it is OK to overstay and then many get busted with a 3 year ban when exiting (keep in mind that it is the last Schengen country that you flight connects in that you will go through immigration). We have not yet received a report of Italy busting a tourist for an overstay when exiting from their country — which is truly remarkable as I have been doing consultation on Schengen visa issues for many years and received thousands of reports — but I would not recommend it. Having a visa overstay on your record is something that could always be held over you, and I would recommend avoiding it at all costs — also remember that if your flight transfers from Italy in Germany, Switzerland, or even the Netherlands (or gets rerouted through these countries) you more than likely will get punished.

      In point, there is pretty much only one good option here: just stay in Schengen Europe for 90 days out of any 180. This is a real dark time for travel in Europe.

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  • Stella Towry May 4, 2011, 3:21 pm

    Hi everyone,
    Here’s my situation: I’m American. I moved to London in 2007 then lived in Spain and Germany. Basically I didn’t leave Schengen for 4 years. That’s right, I overstayed by 3 years and 9 months. I left out of Germany 4 months ago.. they looked at my passport and told me to wait to the side. I was extremely nervous. I saw him looking at my passport and calling someone on the phone. But after 5, 10 minutes the Immigration Officer came back with my passport and said “Alles in Ordnung. Gute Reise.” :: All’s in order. Have a good trip. It’s been 4 months since that and I’m flying into Italy in a couple weeks. If I was “flagged” for overstaying back in Germany, wouldn’t they have been required to tell me then? Or will I run into problems upon re-entry? Thanks a lot in advance.

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  • halon May 19, 2011, 7:07 am


    So I have a really serious question and would appreciate any advice on the matter. Here’s my situation: I spent about 3 months traveling around western europe and then about 3 months traveling around eastern europe – I’m including Hungary and Poland in this although they are part of the Schengen zone. I spent about a month in serbia, a week or so in bulgaria, a week or so in Turkey, 2 weeks in Thailand, 2 weeks in Australia, then about 2 more weeks in Thailand, and then finally I headed back to Poland where I’ve been for the past month and a half. I know, I know it’s all really confusing.

    The thing is even when I map out the dates I find it hard to figure out the time I spent in these places plus the time out of the schengen zone would have exhausted my 180 day rule. I’m worried that maybe when I came back the second time my first dates were still in act and perhaps I had 2 weeks or some other time frame shorter than 3 months. Thus I’m fearful that when I leave Poland I may be taken to the side and told I overstayed my visa.

    Also, I was planning on flying to Turkey from here. Is that a bad idea? If I indeed overstayed my visa would I be forced to change my flight from turkey back to the states? And how is Poland on the matter? Would I be better off trekking through europe and leaving form another country?

    Thanks soooooooo much anyone who can help!

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    • Wade | Vagabondjourney.com May 20, 2011, 9:13 am

      Count back 180 days from today, add up how many of those days you are inside the Schengen zone. If it is over 90 then you overstayed.

      It does not matter what country you fly to when you exit.

      Poland is not the strictest of countries, but they can ban you from reentry just like any other country in the region.

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  • Grant May 26, 2011, 1:39 am

    I am working for a little over 2 months in Germany as an intern (legally) and also studying abroad in Vienna for 1 month. SInce my internship lasts less than 3 months I didn’t get any visas that allow me to stay longer than the 90 days. However my flight is schdeuled to leave on the 96th day of being in Europe. A person at the company I’m working for told me not to worry about it. Since it is only 6 days over, do you think I will recieve much trouble (am entered and am leaving from Germany). I want to visit europe next summer with my friends and don’t want to be banned!


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    • Wade | Vagabondjourney.com May 29, 2011, 3:35 pm

      Hello Grant,

      The cold truth is that travelers have been banned from the Schengen region for three years (or more) for an overstay of a single day when exiting from Germany. I don’t mean to scare you with this, but it is a possibility. The funny thing about the Schengen zone is that one day overstays are punished as much as ones of 1 year (or, for that matter, 10 years). Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but, while it is still possible to get out of the region without being caught after an overstay, I would not test this out in Germany.

      Search this site (use the search box at the top of the sidebar) for “Germany visa overstay” for more on this.

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  • Caro June 4, 2011, 6:07 am


    If anyone has any advice, it would be deeply appreciated!

    I lived and studied in the Netherlands through a student visa which has expired. Over the past year or so I’ve been here without an official visa (just tourist visa) though I’ve been applying for PhD funding through my former Dutch University.

    In January we were awarded the funds and I will start a PhD in a Dutch University in September.

    The problem is, I have overstayed my visa now by 2 or 3 months (I’ve been in the country for 5 months now). I am a US citizen. The primary reason for not leaving has been financial (no funds to go back until my salary starts in Sept). If I were to go back to the States now (in June), could I make the case that I will be employed by a Dutch University in September? Could I, for instance, bring along proof of my future enrollment when going through customs? Would it make a difference?

    I’m particularly worried about being barried from the Netherlands considering my four year PhD trajectory here..

    To make matters worse, I was pulled aside by the Dutch authorities last year when going back to the States for overstaying my visa by a month; I was let off with a warning..


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  • Monica July 19, 2011, 12:24 pm

    You people are networking so you can get away with doing something illegal. I play by the rules!

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  • James August 5, 2011, 2:18 pm

    Im currently in hungary. My 90 days will be up on September 15th. I am considering overstaying another 3 months. I was thinking, is it likely I will get caught leaving the Schengen Zone if I leave over land rather than by air?

    Because I am thinking about taking a train from Hungary, to Ukraine. And flying from Ukraine back to New Zealand, where I am from. Are passport checks on trains as stringent as at airports?

    Furthermore, does anyone know how I could extend my visa legally? I will of course investigate on my own but if anyone has experience in ‘upgrading’ the 90-days visa thing into something longer, then i would like to hear from you.


    Link Reply
    • Wade Shepard August 6, 2011, 7:47 am

      Land borders seem just as tight — if not tighter — in terms of immigration as airports. There was a report sent into the site of someone getting an extension on a tourist visa in Germany. But this person also mentioned having a “host” so it is my impression that she may have been involved in some other sort of program and was not just an ordinary tourist.

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    • Jared September 5, 2011, 6:49 am

      Apologies if this is too late, but while Hungary can technically nab you just like anyone else, you can pretty much renew your tourist visa by popping over to Slovakia for a day then coming back. Hungarian officials will usually level with you. Last I spoke with one, I told them I mistakenly booked my flight for 94 days. They told me straight up that it’s technically against the rules, but they don’t have the resources to enforce it, and just to leave and re-enter. Note you can still be popped, but it’s probably your best bet. People have lived in Hungary for years this way. It is getting somewhat more strict, but they’re more concerned about people doing this long-term, not a few months.

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    • John January 22, 2012, 6:11 pm

      Hi James,

      As a New Zealand citizen contemplating spending more than 90 days in the Schengen zone, I would definitely recommend that you visit the following websites: http://www.delaus.ec.europa.eu/newzealand/eu_guide/faqsvisas.htm and http://www.safetravel.govt.nz/destinations/europetips.shtml

      Basically, according to both the EU and the NZ Government, NZ citizens are permitted to spend up to 90 days in EACH of the following Schengen countries regardless of the time spent in other Schengen countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland (+ Hungary if visiting it as the final destination in the Schengen zone, which seems to be your case).

      However, when going to Schengen countries not listed above (i.e. Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia), the normal 90 days in a 180 day period limit applies to the time spent in these 7 countries.

      But, I want to re-iterate what Wade mentioned above: ‘Take anything any official or consulate tells you about their own immigration laws worth a grain of salt: it is real awful, but they don’t seem to know their own rules or how other countries within the region will interpret them. The inconsistencies and various interpretations here are mind blowing’. Whilst the EU and the NZ Government are very clear that New Zealanders can stay for more than 90 days in the Schengen zone as a whole under certain situations, Hungarian immigration may have an argument with you about this. I would suggest that you contact the Hungarian Consulate-General in NZ to re-confirm this.

      Apart from the EU and NZ Government, the only national immigration authorities which have clear, unambiguous information on the special visa exemption for New Zealanders are France (http://www.ambafrance-nz.org/IMG/pdf/Border_controls_in_Europe.pdf) and Switzerland (http://www.eda.admin.ch/eda/en/home/reps/ocea/vnzl/ref_visinf/visnzl.html). The Spanish Embassy in NZ recognises the bilateral visa agreements which permit NZ citizens to spend up to 90 days in each of many Schengen countries and specifically refers you to the NZ Government Safetravel website for details (http://www.maec.es/subwebs/Embajadas/Wellington/es/MenuPpal/faqs/Paginas/faqs.aspx).

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  • jason August 7, 2011, 4:21 pm

    Hello, i am an Australian citizen who has overstayed in shengen for about 1 month now but will most likely be around 3 by the time i leave, i figure damage is done and i might as well travel as much as i can in shengen now if im going to be banned for 3 years. I was just wondering if there was any purpose in trying to organise things now to make it appear i have been outside of shengen, i have family friends in croatia who have sent fake emails saying thanks for staying with us etc even though i actually never went to Croatia, are all passports checked and stamped in croatia on entry and exit?? or could i argue mine was not and use the emails as proof i have been outside of shengen? i was going to say i either caught a local bus in or was driven in by the family friends . I am in Estonia now and was wandering what my best exit strategy would be, i was thinking a plane trip to Edinburgh then bus down to London to fly back to Aus as London to Aus are the cheapest flights and i have friends i would like to see in London, but would you recommend i fly home without leaving shengen would be a better option? Paris is another cheap option for me to fly home from, any advice would be helpful, i know it was silly to overstay and it was not my intention but things don’t always go to plan

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  • Rich September 13, 2011, 4:05 pm

    I am an American citizen engaged to a Polish girl (she also has US citizen), her job moved her to Poland over a yr ago, so I came with her and my step daughter (from fiancees 1st marriage).
    Unfortunately I over stayed my visa, I was at 1st unaware of this law, my own fault, then once I found out about it, I couldn’t leave because my fiancee travels for work and I had to watch my step daughter. And in the mean time my Fiancee and I are expecting a child.
    I want to leave and see if I can get some type of long term visa then we are going to get married. But not sure if I can.
    If I get an immigration lawyer in Poland, would that help? even if they can get me out of the country legally and I had to travel back to states for 90 days then come back.
    Also is there any chance of me getting some type of legal status since my child will be born here?

    I am concerned that when I leave I will be banned, while having a pregnant fiancee here.

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  • Gerald October 4, 2011, 9:53 am

    Hi all, i was cought in Germany after illegal working and overstay of a month, i got a shengen zone EU bann for a preiod of unlimitied time.

    i will be flying to central america, and there is a connection in Madrid of 3-6 hours, there will be a problem?
    if they see im on my way to another contient and im not leaving the airport it supose to be nice and problem free?

    tnx all

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  • Lau October 17, 2011, 9:51 am

    Hi all! Ive overstayed my tourist visa of 3 months been in europe for 5 months ive been staying at a friend house just learning the language didnt travelled much arround wanna go home, do you know if i can have any kind of problem i went in in spain then flight to the nederlands and now i was thinking goin home also from amsterdam and makes a stop in spain do you think is a good idea?? Please help!!!!
    Thanks a lot!!!

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    • Wade Shepard October 18, 2011, 6:38 am

      There is a reasonable chance that you could be filed into the Schengen Information system and banned from re-entry. Spain as your last European destination is better than the Netherlands.

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  • concerned October 23, 2011, 9:28 am

    ok. i am an american. i have been in spain for 210 days. 7 months total. i left 4 months ago for a day to morroco and got stamped again/legal re-entry. this time, i have overstayed for a month. if i go to morrroco again, do you think i will be allowed re-entry? my spanish friend is vouching for me that we are “fiances” and i also work in a school (under the table, albeit) teaching english. if for some reason, i get stopped, do you think these 2 factors will make any difference? what are my chances of getting re-entry? HELP!!

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    • Wade Shepard October 25, 2011, 5:36 pm

      This is a real crap shoot. Why would you bother leaving to go to Morocco? There is no such thing as a “visa-run” from the Schengen zone unless you stay outside for 91 days, so, visa wise, going to Morocco just to go back to Spain does not improve your situation at all — though you get a new stamp in your passport does not mean that you are getting a new visa — you are still on your first visa, 210 days ago. To answer your question, you may be allow back in Spain, you may not be. It is not my impression that having someone say that you’re their fiance will make any difference, and admitting to working illegally will probably just make your situation worse, My advice is to stay in Spain until you are ready to leave for good and potentially face a three year ban.

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  • becca October 26, 2011, 2:30 am

    I am in Spain as a tourist and my 90 days is almost up. My plane ticket is book for Feb 1st, so I was planning on staying for another 3 months. If I do get banned is it possible to re-enter into another part of Europe, or is it all off limits for 3 years if I get caught?

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    • Wade Shepard October 30, 2011, 6:23 pm

      You can enter other European countries during your ban, just not the 25 or so that are part of the Schengen agreement.

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  • Barry November 2, 2011, 12:28 am

    Hi Wade,
    Im in a unique situation to which I dont really know what to do.I have done much reflection for almost 4 years now trying to make the right decision which does not create further damage. I am considering a visa waiver from german authorities because of health issues. I have had a contineous barrage of health problems since I had to cut a journey short to india and return into the Schennen area through switzerland for treatment. I was thinking of renewing my passport but realize that if I leave through Amsterdam they may not really look at the passport as much as punching in my details and find I entered at a particular time and see I stayed too long over the
    90 day limit. I attempted to leave a year ago through slyvania into croitia so as to fly back to the usa and was detained and
    questioned.I was given a statement to sign in a slavic language I could not speak, and fined to
    which I paid the fine.I was told the info would be transmitted to other schennen countries and at that time they would all just let me pass on my way to the airport.I was travelling by car.
    Now over a year later I would like to leave after having another serious health issue and recovering again.Problem is I may have to turn to india again to receive an operation; to which I would not be able to receive the same operation in the usa because of lack of public monies.
    The authorities in switzerland failed to put an entry stamp when I entered there 4 years ago; in my passport and then switzerland became a part of Shennen zone.I talked to them on the phone and they were very hostile accusing me of working.The sylvania police went ballistic as there was no entry visa for switzerland and only an old entry from germany. I had to show them ticket stubs to prove I had landed in switzerland.
    Im affraid to leave out of any schennen treaty area although I have a paid ticket to leave from switzerland.Getting my passport renewed to fix the problem the swiss made by not putting an entry visa may not solve the problem and cost me alot of money with dwindling resources.
    Please can you give me any advice on this as it just overwhelms my ability to reason it all out and know the right decision to make without getting my self incarcerated and fined.
    sincerely and thanks Barry

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    • Wade Shepard November 4, 2011, 10:05 am

      Hello Everyone,

      I receive hundreds of questions about Schengen visa overstays and I cannot answer each one personally. In the side bar of this page you will notice a donation button. If you would like me to offer consultation for your Schengen visa situation please contribute at least $19. Sorry about this, but I make my living from this website, and if I spent all my time answering every Schengen visa questions that comes in I would go broke.

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  • Ashley November 2, 2011, 4:58 am

    I am a 21 year old Canadian girl currently residing in The Netherlands. My boyfriend is also Canadian but is staying here for the year to do school. I decided to move here with him two months ago but I wasn’t able to get a working visa in time. I don’t plan on working or anything as my boyfriend and I are financially stable…. but I’m just worried that when I fly back to Canada in June, I’m going to get in a whole whack of trouble. I’m so paranoid that I’m going to get caught and deported. Every time I try to find the information on government websites, I just end up getting confused. Can anyone help me?!

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  • Michael November 4, 2011, 10:31 pm

    I recently lived in spain and over stayed my student visa by 3 months. When i left to go back home to USA i was told by the spanish passport control that i wasnt alowed to re enter spain for 5 years. The thing is they never gave me a piece of paper nor was i asked to sign anything. All they did was ask me why i over stayed and then told me i couldnt come back to spain for 5 years. Does this seem like they are bs me? im planning on returning in 3 to 4 months but entering through a diffrent country and enter through spain on a train.

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    • Wade Shepard November 6, 2011, 12:47 am

      No, this is the normal experience of overstayers that are banned. It is a pretty informal seeming system with massive consequences. Who knows though, they could let you back in, but, more than likely, you’re in the SIS.

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  • Michael November 6, 2011, 4:42 pm

    So if they told me i am banned from spain, does that mean only spain? or the whole schengen?

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  • Esmeralda M November 14, 2011, 12:02 pm

    i am banned for 5 years from the shengen zone after overstay of 4.5 months, and simmiliar to one of the people here, i have a flight connection in europe (france).
    will they let me have the connection flight ?

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  • KIYOMI December 7, 2011, 8:20 pm

    First, let me begin by saying how relieving it is to find someone who know so much about visa law and retrictions, and that I can come here after hours of online searching and find more information on this website then the thousands of boards and yahoo answers I might have stumbled on.

    My situation is as follows:

    My best friends and I are planning on backpacking/travelling throughout Europe during the summer. We are both U.S. citizens and I have mapped EVERYTHING out to a ‘t’ as far as itinerary and transportation goes. All the places that we are going to be visiting our within the Schengen region, except for when we are entering and leaving. So I understand that as U.S. citizens we are allowed to travel freely in the Schengen region without a visa for no more than three months. HOWEVER, we are flying from the U.S. into Europe through the UK and out of Europe through the UK back to the U.S. also our itinerary ends up having us be in Europe for a little more than four months. So yes, I understand we would be staying in Europe one more month longer than the three month rule, but I guess what I am wonering is would we get in trouble if since we are flying into the UK, we could just tell officials there that we are visiting the UK (where there is a 6 month period allowed for travel) and then travel in the schengen region as planned and return back to the UK by ferry and leave back to the U.S.? We will be travelling by train for the whole trip, except for one flight between Portugal and Italy initially. Thus, I guess what I’m simply trying to say is could we use UK’s six month travel policy to our advantage and would there be any risk of us getting caught for traveling outside of the UK? As well as returning to the UK to fly back home after travelling in the Schengen area. I have been going crazy thinking that perhaps this is a loophole in the system? Because I can’t understand how schengen regions could check how long we’ve been traveling there if we only get a entry stamp from the UK where again it’s a six month travel policy.

    I hope this is clear, PLEASE HELP!

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    • Wade Shepard December 12, 2011, 9:43 am

      No, it is not a loophole. UK and Schengen immigration are completely different. It doesn’t matter, in terms of the Schengen zone, if you fly in and out of the UK or China, directly from the USA, or any other country. So no, your 180 visa for the UK will not help you in the Schengen zone, where you can receive a stay of 90 days out of any 180.

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      • Jennifer March 12, 2012, 4:27 pm

        Hi Wade,

        Thank you so much for having this site! It’s the only place that I’ve found real information about what to do when you realize you’ve broken the rules.

        I have a similar question to Kiyomi’s, specifically, how likely am I to run into problems when crossing from the Schengen area to the UK by ferry? (After having overstayed a Schengen visa) It’s my impression that there would be a much lower chance of being denied entry than if I were to try to fly to London. And once in, how likely is it that I would be punished when trying to fly home from London?

        An American citizen, I’ve overstayed my Schengen visa by two years and I’m trying to find the exit strategy with the lowest chance of problems.

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  • Amanda January 7, 2012, 3:05 am

    Hi, maybe you could help me.
    I’m coming from Indonesia and ofc I needed to apply visa to go to Germany. I got my Aupair visa already on my passpor. It’s a bit confusing that it’s written there ‘valid for Germany’ instead of for Schaengen like normally mentioned there (I have ever got 2 times schaengen visa). Since after I arrived in Berlin I would like go to to France by bus, do you think my visa won’t valid for France? My visa type is D and once I arrived I need to go to Immigration office to extend it to permit of stay till’ one year. I already booked bus ticket to France, but now so worried that there would be visa check at the border Germany-France? I have heard that many of my friends (aupairs..) already travelled a lot around Schaengen with their ‘Germany’ visa.. Please advice, thank you..

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    • Wade Shepard January 14, 2012, 4:10 pm

      You must enter the Schengen region through Germany, but you’re pretty much free to travel in other Schengen countries after this. Technically, you’re only suppose to spend a certain amount of days outside of the country where your visa was issued, but as there are no internal border checks I can’t see how this could be enforced.

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  • anon January 11, 2012, 11:07 pm

    I overstayed my tourist visa in the Netherlands as an American and left through Frankfurt airport without any problems, but it was a tense moment!

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  • Tony January 28, 2012, 10:06 am

    HEY i was wondering if some one could help me

    I am an Indian citizen in Spain, i have overstayed my visa by 6 months and want to return to India, should i buy a ticked(which is also hard financially at the moment) and go to the airport? will i miss my flight if they make me wait for a long time(in case there are custom problems?) will they Deport me? will there be a fine?
    im really worried at the moment because of financial problems and cant afford a lawyer..

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    • Wade Shepard January 30, 2012, 8:52 am

      Usually the visa overstay proceedings are done very quickly, and most people don’t miss their flights.

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      • chacha April 30, 2012, 11:10 am

        Hi. Please help! I have a same problem like Tony. I also have overstayed my Schengen Visa. I’m here in France now for 165 days. I wanna go back now to the Philippines but I’m so afraid to the airport (immigration) for the possible consequences that could give to me. But like what you had mentioned, since I would leave France voluntarily, the very worst thing that could happen is fee for fine and be banned for number of years, right? how about for the stop over country or the connection flight (like Qatar) they would also ask me regarding my overstaying? or they do not have care too much since France will let me go?

        In addition, After reading some comments, is it much better if I would leave France before I reach my 180 days overstaying here? or it was just the same (how days/months of overstaying)? what will you suggest? Please help! thank you!

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    • Lai February 9, 2012, 9:45 am

      If you leave voluntarily they wont detain you or fine you. They’ll ask you though why you overstayed. It could be a tense moment but just tell them you cant get a ticket even that quick to leave. But you’ll be banned for 5 years…

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      • Wade Shepard February 9, 2012, 2:19 pm

        Partially correct. You can be banned for three to five years, but Switzerland and Greece will also fine you. There is evidence of this throughout this site.

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  • Jessica Cruz February 2, 2012, 11:14 am


    So i am a Chilean Citizen and went on a 1 week trip to Italy (in my Chilean passport) in college. I honestly did not know i needed a visa since i was going for 1 week for a school trip and i was a U.S. permanent resident.. ( i learned my lesson)
    and one of my layovers on my way back to the U.S.was Germany …i got pulled aside, cried, apologized, and had to sign some paper in Germany and i was let go …i think they told me i could come back but i can’t remember well, they told me i would get a copy in the mail and never got anything …well a year later now and i am a U.S citizen with a U.S passport and my last name changed but not too drastically ( i had a really long last name and i dropped 2 names). I am wanting to go to Ireland, Italy, London, and France for my honey moon with my U.S. passport will i get in trouble?

    *i only got pulled aside in Germany, I didn’t get stamped in Italy and i got stamped in France in my layover to Italy but they didn’t tell me anything.


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    • Wade Shepard February 4, 2012, 12:37 pm


      As we see so often, the immigration official made a mistake in your case. You are from Chile and can enter the Schengen zone for 90 out of 180 days without a prearranged visa. All you need to do is show up and be stamped in, which is what you did.

      Don’t worry about returning, especially as you have a new passport from another country.

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  • Milalai February 7, 2012, 2:51 am

    I overstayed in Spain for 7 months. I was interviewed during my exit by the immigration officer in Barcelona. He knew of my overstay. He told me I couldn’t come back in 5 years time. ANd he marked the 4 sides of the stamp for departure with a blank inked pen. Is the 5 years ban only in Spain where I left or all over the schengen countries?

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  • Taka February 7, 2012, 4:59 pm

    Hi. Also would really appreciate some help – Kinda strange on here, and probably a first ! Entered UK on a tourist visa (Japanese Passport) and have significantly overstayed (met a girl and well it got complicated/distracting) – She is from Poland and wants to move to Poland and me to go with. Obviously I expect a ban from UK, but would I be able to enter Poland /Schennigan without significant issue. Please advise.

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  • Linda February 10, 2012, 10:09 am

    I had an italian visa single entry which i used to visit italy being my main destination but now i have renewed it for multiple entry still using italy as my main destination but i want to go straight to spain this time with no intention to enter italy will i have a problem renewing next time and will i b denied entry into spain

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    • Wade Shepard February 13, 2012, 10:58 am

      Yes, you could be denied entry to Spain. If you need a prearranged visa to enter the Schengen zone you need to go through immigration in the country who issued your visa. Whether Spain will bother denying you entry or not is anyone’s guess, as they are sometimes lax about this. I wouldn’t chance it though.

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      • The Man March 3, 2012, 1:20 pm

        You guys are all crooks. Why should you break the law consciously and want an easy way out? Then plan to come back and do even worse in terms of breaking the law?

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  • Peter Piper February 20, 2012, 11:44 pm

    This talk of 90 days this and that is all so sad. Why have they gone to such a highly restrictive policy. Why do they even care how long Americans, Canadians or Australians are staying? You’d think they’d be welcoming them with open arms.

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  • Peter Piper February 20, 2012, 11:46 pm

    If you think you’d like to live and work in Europe, a 90-day visa is not enough time to really put together a plan once you’re there. That’s what’s so bad about it, among other things.

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  • Webb February 27, 2012, 5:24 am

    I’m Canadian and currently studying in Germany on a visa that expires on April 30th. I’ve been told that if I leave the Schengen area for at least 24 hours to a country not in the Schengen area, I shouldn’t have any trouble getting back in for a tourist visa of 90 days in 180 days. Is this true? Also if I have proof of my flight home, as well as an itinerary, would that help in any issues I might face?

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  • Darcy March 2, 2012, 7:26 am

    Hey, I am an American citizen that has been studying in Spain the past 5 months. My student visa is up the 22nd of March. On the 25th of March I am leaving to travel around Germany and Ireland, and then I wish to return to Spain to collect my belongings on the 13th of April. I will then leave Spain for good on the 25th of April (out of Barcelona). Do you think I will have any trouble crossing borders anywhere along my way? My greatest fear is that I will not be able to re-enter Spain on the 13th of April flying out of Berlin.

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  • BallgameT March 13, 2012, 7:04 am

    First off…thank you to everyone who provides input on this site. It´s been very helpful in thinking things through!

    I´m in Spain playing in the Liga Española de Béisbol. Yes. Baseball in Spain exists 🙂 Unfortunately, there is not much money in Spanish baseball (nor many fans!), so I did not get a work visa to come do this. I came on a tourist visa.

    I´m a US citizen with a US passport. I travelled first to the UK where I was stamped upon entry. Then I flew to Porto, Portugal. I was NOT stamped upon entry to Portugal, which was odd to me considering Portugal is Schengen and UK is not. At the end of this month I will be at my 90 limit based on the date I actually entered Portugal.

    I would like to avoid blatantly overstaying my 90 days, becuase it just seems to unpredictable whether or not one can be slapped with a fine/not allowed to return to Spain for an indiscrimate period of time. In an ideal world I would like to stay until the baseball season finishes at the end of July (which would be 7 months total).

    Do I:

    1a) Leave Spain/Schengen prior to my 90 days. Go to either Morrocco or the UK and then come back to Spain/Portugal (again, legally, before the 90 days is used up) and hope to get stamped, thus ´officially´ starting my 90 days (becaues I was never stamped into schengen when I came here). Could this work? Would going to one be better than the other–Morrocco or UK?

    1b) Would mode of transportation make a difference? Are the passport checks just as strict if I take a boat (for instance from Santander to Southampton, or to Morrocco) vs. train vs. flying? If I boat to the UK can I reenter the UK as if I never left (again, because my passport was never stamped in Portugal) and then return to Spain. …Keep in mind I´m doing all this before violating my three months.

    b) Overstay in Spain. Leave from either Spain or Portugal at the end of my 7 months (again, would one be better than the other in terms of the strictness of enforcements and penalties?). Does the fact that I was never stamped into schengen work in my favor? or will the computer systems follow me? I´m taking a risk here, but to me getting a 500Euro fine would be worth being able to play an entire season of baseball here. A 3,000Euro fine and excommunication from Spain on the other hand would change my decision!

    Please be straight but kind in your advice! Thank you.

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  • Eliza March 19, 2012, 4:59 am

    I’ve been reading and can’t find anything related to my particular situation..I’m a US citizen living in Germany on a one year work permit (freelancer). It expires in June, and I have a job booked in France (with a US company) that ends two days later. Additionally, the job could be extended a month and I need the work as I haven’t been working much in Germany. I received my visa after entering Germany but wasn’t here the entire 90 days when I got it, just a little over half. I’d love to think I have a credit somewhere based on that! But does anyone know if I went to the US from Germany (still under my work permit) and then entered France (also within the time frame of the work permit) and left after my job there (about 4 weeks after the work visa expires) I’d have a problem? I’d exit from France so as not to incur the wrath of German immigration, although I also considered exiting via a flight from Romania that routes through Ukraine, although the success seems dubious based on Romania’s status. Any info or advice would be so much appreciated.

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  • Meng March 26, 2012, 2:26 pm

    Hi. I am holding a Malaysian passport and have overstay for 2 years in London. I am planning to leave the country now but wish to visit Paris and fly back to Malaysia through Paris airport. I have booked my air ticket from Paris to Malaysia. Will I face any conflicts with the custom when entering Paris from London?


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  • Dave March 31, 2012, 10:54 pm

    My wife and I were in Spain from September 2007 to July 2008, with a trip to Morocco in late December returning in January. When we came back into Spain we had no trouble or questioning whatsoever by customs. In July we came back to the US via Ireland, and we were not questioned about our stay in Europe when we entered Ireland. When we exited Ireland to the US, the office asked what we had been doing in Europe for so long. My wife and I said we were there for academic purposes, and the officer let us through with hardly any questioning or apprehension.

    We are planning a trip to Spain in May of 2013 to do the Camino de Santiago, and will have a round trip flight booked with return dates probably in July. Although we obviously overstayed our visas in 2007-2008, it will have been just about five years since we were in Europe by that point in time. In the worst case scenario that our passports were flagged, will we have any trouble re-entering since so much time has passed since we were last there?

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  • Court May 2, 2012, 8:19 am

    Hi Wade,
    As a young Australian girl, I plan on travelling to Italy next week for travel of no more than 90 days, arriving and departing Milan (not breaking the Schengen timing arrangement!). I have heard from different people that when I enter the country I will be questioned on what I’m going to be doing as a tourist. I have no accommodation booked and no immediate plans, I just intend on taking things a day at a time, hopefully venturing through other Schengen countries before my return to Milan to come home to AUS.
    Is it true that when I arrive they will wish to see accommodation bookings and a returning flight? I have heard from some that I just hand my passport over to be stamped and that they will not ask a single question, but others have said they can be quite tough.
    Travel agents don’t seem to know everything you really need nowadays and I’m desperate for help as I leave in 10 days!
    If anybody could please help that would be amazing. I just don’t want to get into any sort of trouble considering I’m not intentionally doing anything illegally!
    Many thanks from Australia!

    Link Reply
    • Wade Shepard May 2, 2012, 8:32 am


      There are rarely standards when it comes to immigration. They could ask you many questions, interrogate you, or just stamp your passport without a word.

      You may have difficulty boarding your flight without an onward or return ticket, but immigration rarely requests to see this.

      There is no way to monitor your movements once you’re in the country so just say that you’re staying in Milan at a random hotel and have the address ready. If they ask for a booking say you did it by phone.

      By all means don’t say that you’re going on some kind of free loving hippie journey to the immigration official.

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  • Coco May 8, 2012, 1:02 pm

    Hey Wade,

    Really love the site! I think I have figured out why everyone has been caught at least going through Zurich airport. See here: http://www.bfm.admin.ch/content/bfm/en/home/themen/schengen_dublin/schengen/api.html

    Advance Passenger Information (API)

    Flight passenger data
    Based on Article 104 of the Foreign Nationals Act (FNA), the Federal Office for Migration (FOM) requires airline companies to provide passenger data (personal details, travel document and flight information) for certain non-Schengen flights before departure and forwards this information to the border control authorities.
    The latter can use the flight time to already carry out first verifications which may also include consulting databases containing relevant information for the border control. Thus, it helps to strengthen border control and to fight illegal immigration. The transmitted data is deleted after 24 hours.

    Tricky Bastards!

    Link Reply
    • Wade Shepard May 8, 2012, 9:57 pm

      Yes, they are getting way more efficient in their border control policies. But this information would not have passengers’ entrance date included in it which is essential for punishing overstayers. It’s just to check against people already in the system.

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  • Sisi May 9, 2012, 10:48 am

    Dear Wade,

    I am a Canadian equipped with a student visa for Spain. I forgot (yes, forgot) to apply for a residential permit at the Oficina de Extranjeria within my first 3 months and have now overstayed my visa by just under 2 months.

    At present, all I wish to do is exit the Schengen zone while making the fewest ripples possible in order to reapply for a student visa at home. Given that I am currently in Slovenia, which would you deem the “safest” exit point to Canada? Overland from Slovenia to Croatia or from Rome F. airport? I know that the most you can provide is anecdotal evidence, but even that would be reassuring.

    Thank you,


    Link Reply
    • Wade Shepard May 9, 2012, 11:08 am

      Rome is your best bet.

      Comments on this page are now closed.

      Due to far more of a demand than I can handle (100’s of similar questions per week) Schengen/ European visa questions now require a $19+ donation. To do this, go to Ask Schengen Visa questions.

      Link Reply
  • Big eyes September 6, 2013, 3:21 am

    Hi Wade,

    I really hope you could give me some advice because nobody I know is capable of giving some…

    I am from Hong Kong. I arrived in Belgium in September 2012, then registered at a local commune and apply for a residency visa. After six months, the application failed, and I was given a court order to leave the Schengen Area within 30 days.

    But I ignored that and made a second attempt to apply for the residency visa using a different reason. Now I am waiting for the results as the application is pending.

    Now here’s the problem. I have a work trip to SE Asia in coming October for a few days.

    My question is, am I allowed to travel outside Europe during this period?

    Would I get caught at the customs on the outgoing and incoming flights? Which airport should I fly through to minimize the risks? My available choices are London, Amsterdam, and Doha (in the Middle East). Which one is the best bet for me?

    Could the custom officials see my “file” (e.g. my immigration/residency records) when they scan my passport? I have been arguing about this with my friend for a long time and he insists that ‘there’s no file”.

    BTW, I am holding a British Overseas passport with NO STAMPS.

    Please help me out and I’d deeply appreciate your two cents!

    With incredible gratitude,
    Big eyes

    Link Reply
    • Wade Shepard September 6, 2013, 5:36 am

      Sorry, but I no longer do this consultation for free.

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  • E.Br November 27, 2013, 6:13 am

    So I’m in currently in France as a tourist, and my 90 days runs out in about two weeks time. If I were to stay over the allotted time, and was caught at a border crossing for one reason or another, what would happen? I know that I would need to leave, but would I have trouble getting into the U.K., or would I need to go back to Canada? What kinds of fines/penalties/bans would I be faced with?

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  • carla April 2, 2014, 3:38 am

    Dear Wade,

    I am a filipina, i was aupair in Denmark for two years. Then after my contract end i was applying in Sweden as a aupair and it was denied. I waited for 1 and half months before the decisions came. Then i already overstayed here in Denmark for 8 months now. I have a swedish boyfriend and we decided to live together and get married but i have a problem about my visa.

    What should i do? Please give me an advices, thanks…

    Link Reply
    • semi April 17, 2014, 3:46 am

      u need to go and explain your needs to embassy.

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  • Canna July 9, 2015, 1:37 pm

    Hi there! I am a Philippine passport holder and was an Au-pair in Germany and currently here in Italy. One month before my Au pair visa had expired, I entered Italy without Visa. And right now, I’m already staying for 20 days illegally from the date of Visa expiration (Germany). Is there gonna be a problem if I would I just buy ticket back home and exit here in Italy?

    Or if I go back to Germany, what troubles will I face due to overstaying?

    Any thoughts about my situation? I would really appreciate.. Thanks a lot!

    Link Reply
  • Christophe November 30, 2015, 1:59 pm

    Hey Wade! This is Christophe from Syria, remember???? I dont know if i did thank you for your help with my wife 4 years ago!!! We live in Bayonne in France now! You are of course welcome qnytime with your wife qnd baby! I hope they are fine too!! Regards Christophe

    Link Reply
    • VagabondJourney November 30, 2015, 8:43 pm

      Hello Christophe! It is excellent to hear from you! I’m so glad that everything has worked out for you and your wife. Are you still in touch with anyone from Aleppo? It is appalling what has happened there.

      Link Reply
  • Neicelle Maghanoy January 3, 2016, 3:38 am

    hi just want to ask i am an au pair in switzerland and will be expiring on the 24th of january..after my exit im planning to apply a tourist visa in switzerland and my current host family will be sponsoring me..do you think i can get the visa?
    is this possible?
    please give some advice.

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  • JOE MONZER March 10, 2019, 8:25 pm


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    • Wade Shepard March 11, 2019, 8:40 am

      You can’t stay more than 90 days in a row in Marseille as a tourist. There’s no way around that. Look into a retirement visa, but you will probably need to put a bunch of cash in a French bank and, potentially, buy property.

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      • Trevor March 12, 2019, 8:51 pm

        Hi everyone who thinks they gonna be let off easily if you abuse the countries immigration policy.

        Before you come to Europe, think what your own government does to those who overstay their time limit…

        if u r not convinced, go to Russia and overstay there and see the consquences. i doubt u will ever have the chance to try overstaying (anywhere) again.


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        • Wade Shepard March 13, 2019, 11:00 am

          Very true. Russian, India, China, etc have pretty harsh consequences for visa overstayers. The USA is relatively lax, although it’s questionable if they will let you back in if you overstay. But what concerns me is that — even though 90 days for 26 or so countries is a moronic policy — people seem to feel entitled to stay in Europe for as long as they want — as if they have the right to be there and that the gov is infringing on them for setting up rules telling them that they need to leave. In a perfec world visas would be unnecessary (and I feelthat we’re moving closer to that world) but that’s just not how things are today.

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          • Trevor March 13, 2019, 6:56 pm

            yeah different rules for entering depending on ur own nationality does suck BUT we gotta be gr8ful we can go so many countries without hassles.

            the over stayers of today just make it harder for their own sons and daughters 20 years down the road…

            UK use to be a free for all but look how much agro peeps from poorer nations get when visiting… well, they know they can hide and work illegally..altough thats changing.

            as regarding UK.. everyone comes to abuse our overloaded but free health care system.

            but WE have been abusing Thailands rules for year.. but now we pay per day that we overstay.

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  • alex December 18, 2019, 5:59 pm

    Hi, i have the Switzerland tourist passport and has exited the country. Now i am in Italy and has overstayed, what will happen to my sponsor? Will my sponsor get notified?

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    • Wade Shepard December 18, 2019, 7:00 pm

      I suppose it’s possible if you try to return and you are denied.

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