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JeffLosAngeles Oct 3rd, 2014 02:53 AM

Left Schengen Area, Did Not Get Stamp...
Hello fellow travelers,

I am an American currently in Prague, and the section of the embassy with whom I'd normally inquire is closed today. So, I thought this might prove useful.

I landed in Germany in August, and moved about within the Schengen-zone for around a month (29 Days). My girlfriend is teaching English in Prague, so we eventually made our way out here for the start of the school year.

In order to get the most out of my 90 days (and be here for the holidays), I decided that I'd do some traveling in non-Schengen countries; I hoped that, cumulatively, time spent in the UK, Croatia, and Montenegro, would not count against my 90 days within the Schengen zone. So, I took a bus to Croatia to stay for a couple of weeks.

Unfortunately, upon crossing the border for entry (and exit), my passport was not stamped. We stopped at the border and waited for around 7 minutes, and then just kept driving. Could it be that the bus had people's data on-file, and they just electronically scanned us into the system? Or, did nobody check it at all--in which case, is it as if I never left the Schengen zone, and the 12 days I spent Split (although beautiful) were for naught?

To summarize: juggling time in non-Schengen countries seems to be a good way to stay in Europe for longer than 90 days. But, without stamped proof of entry on a passport from Croatia (or any non-Schengen country), how can I prove to immigration officials that I ever left?

Would they accept my bus ticket and lodging receipt as proof?? Or did I just pleasantly waste two weeks?

I really appreciate the help. Thanks in advance.

Alec Oct 3rd, 2014 03:41 AM

Well, Schengen border manual does suggest carrying alternative evidence, such as transport tickets, hotel receipts etc to show the days you spent outside Schengen. Your passport should have been stamped in and out at Schengen external border. I know not all border officials stick to the rules, but it can cause trouble to people like yourself. Scanning passports doesn't leave any record of your movements in and out of Schengen.

JeffLosAngeles Oct 3rd, 2014 04:17 AM

Thanks, Alec. Good to know. Their inability (or unwillingness) to stick to the rules could indeed cause some trouble for me down the line. But, I may be okay:

I do have some alternative evidence, although it is in the form of electronic receipts (both bus and Airbnb were booked online). Granted, I do have some receipts from restaurants and markets that I assume express some additional proof.

Do you know to whom I should present this "alternative evidence" along with my case? I cannot find an appropriate department with which to make an appointment at the US Embassy, and I wouldn't want to risk waiting until my departure back to the States.

Thanks again for your swift help and any future answers.

chartley Oct 3rd, 2014 04:27 AM

I suppose the problem is that Croatia saw no need to stamp you in, and there was no-one at the Schengen exit whose job was to stamp you out.

Any citizen of the European Economic Area (E.U. plus countries like Switzerland and Norway) has a normal right to free movement throughout the area covered. This means that the vast majority of cross-border movements do not need to be recorded. It is not surprising that some exceptional instances get overlooked for one reason or another, and a land crossing into Croatia is probably one of them.

Alec Oct 3rd, 2014 05:58 AM

Just hang on to them, and if you encounter any difficulties at the border, or with the police or immigration service during spot checks, show them.

Sojourntraveller Oct 3rd, 2014 09:06 AM

You should be OK with alternative proof of your time in Croatia. Even a restaurant receipt shows you were there on a given day.

I'm not sure you understand who might question your time in Schengen, when and where. The US Embassy has nothing whatsover to do with your stay in Schengen. There is no reaon to visit them at all or anyone else before your departure.

You could be questioned if stopped on the street for something but the most likely is when you are at the airport and going through Czech Immigration OUT of the country. There is no system to 'pre-advise' them you were in Croatia or any other non-Schengen country.

If you spend any more time outside Schengen, try to insure you get your passport stamped. That can sometimes mean YOU insisting on it being stamped when leaving the Schengen country you are in and then stamped again when you return to a Schengen country.

Schengen is one of those few things where you are in a sense 'guilty until you prove your innocence'. The authorities do not have to prove you were in Schengen countries for more than 90 days, you have to prove you were not if asked to do so.

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