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Overstaying in the Schengen Zone - Please Advise!

Overstaying in the Schengen Zone - Please Advise!

Old Mar 7th, 2012, 02:37 PM
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janice1312: Yes. He is allowed up to 90 days in Schengen and up to 6 months in the UK (assuming no issues that might ban him)
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Old Mar 7th, 2012, 03:14 PM
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Anyone interested in the ins and outs of Schengen should read this thread. It has everything:

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...en-airport.cfm
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Old Mar 7th, 2012, 03:22 PM
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I was just going to ask if anyone remembered a poster called Sandy! He had this elaborate plan to scam the system, and when people took him to task he flipped out. Is that the same guy?
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Old Mar 7th, 2012, 03:23 PM
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That's a him.
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Old Mar 7th, 2012, 04:15 PM
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Re-reading that provided a much needed belly laugh. Between his mother's credit card and Hans the Norwegian immigration officer, I nearly died of laughter. Sandy was a classic, that's for sure!
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Old Jul 18th, 2012, 12:00 AM
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Hi there,

I just want to share my story so that if someone is in a similar predicament they might have an option.

I have provided an in depth account of my experience below. If you don't have time to read then here is a summary.

Summary: In July 2012 I was stopped at Greek borders trying to enter Bulgaria, they believed I had overstayed in the Schengen region for over a year. I was driving a Van. As a result they would fine me 1100 euros and ban me for 3 years entering the Schengen region. They allowed me to turn around and decide what I should do. I avoided this penalty by getting rid of the Van, catching a flight from Thessalonki, Greece to Rome, Italy. I read the Italian borders aren't as enforcing with the Schengen Treaty. I exited the Schengen region from Rome no problems flying to Hong Kong.

Extended account:

I'm from Australia and had the 2 year UK working visa. I arrived in the UK and Europe in July 2011 for a backpacking tour with my girlfriend. Once we finished our backpacking we returned to England from France via an overnight bus from Aime La Plagne (French Alps) to Nottingham, England. We were never stamped exiting France or the Schengen region! In April 2012 my girlfriend and I decided to buy a small camper van and tour Europe again. So we bought one in London then hopped on the ferry from Dover to Calais in April 2012. After touring through France, Spain, Portugal, Italy and then finally Greece for 2 and a half months, I dropped my girlfriend off at Athens airport, she needed to get home on a family matter. I was intending to drive from Greece to Holland via the Balkan countries to get a ferry back to England by the end of July.

Approaching the Greek/Bulgarian border I handed over my passport to my shock the Greek police informed me they believed I had been in the EU or Schengen region for over a year! Upon inspection of my passport I realised that we weren't stamped entry into the Schengen region at the Ferry dock in Calais, France. The last entry stamp was when we initially entered Europe in July 2011. The ferry was around 2-3am in the morning, we just drove out of the port gates being waved through by an official!

So unless I'm mistaken the French borders need to get their act together!

Based on my passport I had overstayed the 90 days for another 9-10 months! In order for me to have left Greece in to Bulgaria I would have to pay an 1100 euro fine and a minimum 3 year ban from the Schengen zone!

I was shocked.

I tried to prove it to them with paperwork of the sale of the van I purchased in London only a few months back and hotel accommodation etc. While they said they 'believed me' based on my passport they would still have to enforce the penalty. I called my Australian embassy in Athens and they were no help at all. They said it was a matter for the Greek Authorities. Well the Greek authorities position was already made quite clear to me!

Result: The Greek border police allowed me to turn around if I wanted to and not incur the penalties. But I saw that my passport had been scanned and most likely entered in to the Schengen system. I turned around and stayed a few nights in Thessaloniki to decide what to do. I thought I couldn't fly out from Athens to Australia or the UK as I would be leaving the Schengen from Greece and I'm on the Greek system now. So I decided to unfortunately give away my van to a scrap yard then fly from Thessalonki, Greece to Rome, Italy. As Italy are part of the Schengen I did not breach anything with this flight. I then booked a flight from Rome to Hong Kong with the hope that Italy and Greece did not share information. I was correct. I got through immigration no problem at all despite technically overstaying the Schengen visa (as apparent on my passport).

I share this story as I believe the Schengen treaty, while great for citizens of Europe, is terrible for genuine tourists. Technically with the 90 day visa for 25 countries, this gives you just over 3 days in each country! I hate comparisons to America or Australia which have similar visa time frames. Europe is unique with so many different cultures, a tourist (given the time) needs a lot more than 3 months to explore. Someone like myself coming from 30 hours of travelling from Australia I want to see as much as I can in one trip. My experience resulted in me leaving the EU much more prematurely than expected. It then meant Euro countries losing AT LEAST a couple of thousand euros I had budgeted for the rest of my tour. Compound that over millions of tourists who need to exit but who could stay and keep touring results in considerable losses in tourist dollars!

I know this is not official info so your experience maybe different but nonetheless I hope this helps.

cheers
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Old Jul 18th, 2012, 12:29 AM
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Compare the size of the US to the size of Europe. Compare the size of Australia to the size of Europe. I have been to the US several times and have barely seen anything of it. Even if I stayed for my full 90 days there that would still only be 1.8 days per state. Many states are bigger than European countries, each state is as unique as a European country.

The Schengen agreement was not made to make life easier or more difficult for tourists or those who choose to break the law and over stay. You were fortunate. Do not encourage others to break the law as you did - they may not be so lucky.
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Old Jul 18th, 2012, 05:00 AM
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Hetis, maybe I misread, but I don´t believe that he did break the law. His passport was not stamped on re-entry, which often happens. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the tourist to make sure that he/she has the correct stamps...but it is easy to overlook.
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Old Jul 18th, 2012, 05:45 AM
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"Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the tourist to make sure that he/she has the correct stamps."

It isn't.

In any civilised country (and Greece purports to be civilised), it's the responsibility of the police to prove a crime. If backpacker 2012 is telling the whole truth accurately, the police wouldn't have had a snowball's chance in hell of making their case stand up in court: he had a ton of circumstantial evidence which collectively proved the police allegation was complete nonsense. Like, for example, the paperwork proving he'd bought the car in London in April 2012.

Anyone who's ever crossed a European border knows it's often absolutely not local policy to stamp non visa nationals' passports at borders. Especially anyone in a UK-registered car driving through French immigration at Dover, where the French police can't be arsed most of the time even asking us to stop.

Backpacker2012 - again if he's telling the truth - has a legitimate beef with incompetent bureaucratic Greek police (yes: there'a double redundancy there) and with the useless Australian diplomat (again, a redundancy) who didn't do his job properly.

When we stupidly let Europe's worst governed country join the Common Market in 1981, part of the deal was that they had to prove they'd acquired the trappings of civilised behaviour, however screamingly obvious it was they had no interest in anything other than stealing the maximum amount they could from the rest of us. A police force that pig-headedly insists that a man who'd been in London in April must have been in Schengen for a year by July is incompatible with the promises Greece made 30 years ago.

Which, of course, is news to no-one
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Old Jul 18th, 2012, 05:52 AM
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Definetely an unfortunate experience. And one can only speculate why the French border control at Calais port did not do their job.
But I doubt that more than one percent of all tourists visiting one or more Schengen countries have the time, the desire, or the funds to stay longer than 90 days. Even if there was no such restriction.
And if you were desperate (and wealthy enough) to spend 6 or 12 months in one country you can still apply for the long-term national tourist visa.
So in the real world, this is probably a negligable problem.
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Old Jul 19th, 2012, 04:09 PM
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Hetismij2 if you read my post correctly you would understand I didn't break the law. I have posted my story on two forums so people can maybe get some info from my experience, but some people are too quick to judge.

Claiming that its my fault for not being stamped is really clutching at straws. At what point can we say I reasonably did what I could as a civilian to follow the letter of the law? Our ferry from Dover to Calais was at 3am in the morning of a Tuesday I believe, only a handful of passengers. At what point is it reasonable to think when I'm being waived through by French border control that I have done enough?

I am telling the whole truth. I presented documents to the Greek police, to 3 separate individuals in fact. These documents were proof of purchase of the vehicle in Feb 2012, hotel receipts from Liverpool and Edinburgh in March/April 2012 etc etc. They said I quote “I believe you, but based on your passport if you want to cross borders you must receive the penalty”. No leeway or provision to call up joe blogs in France to confirm my claims.

Worth noting: we presented our passports various times throughout the Schengen region including the French/Spanish border, Italy to Greece ferry port (Brindisi) and random inspections by Spanish and Italian police as we sometimes slept in rest areas the foreign plates would draw attention to local police. Each time there was never any mention of the discrepancy. Nor did my girlfriend have any problems flying from Athens to Melbourne with the exact same passport discrepancy as mine. It demonstrates considerable gaps in the application of the law. Of which has been mentioned many times before by other experiences.

The Schengen and its states are unique to the world. I too have been to the US 3 times and yes there is much to explore but land size does not matter, the beauty about Europe is that there are so many cultures in such small confines, from an American or Australians perspective. There are different cultures but also languages and they are separate countries so its not same at all to America or Australia.

People are increasingly able and are travelling for longer periods than ever before. Travelling first hand I visited over 30 hostels and 10 hotels in the past year in Europe. From my experience the majority of people staying in these places were people from America, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada and China. All non-EU countries and for the better part reasonably affluent travellers. A lot of them were in extended travel scenarios: gap years, post uni gap years, permanent travellers, undecided how long they would stay etc etc. And the travel playing field is changing with organisations like couchsurfing.com and mindmyhouse.com allow travellers to extend their tours for much longer periods than ever before. The younger generations are catching on to these initiatives, and the occasional mature traveller is too.

My point after all this is there should be provisions for extended Schengen visas to a minimum 6 months. With technology and ever changing ways people are finding to attract tourists to their little part of the world, shouldn't the border policies adapt to promote tourism? Preventing a tourist returning for at least 3 years is counter productive I would have thought.
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Old Jul 20th, 2012, 07:58 PM
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I sympathize with not being stamped out of a Schengen country.

When I flew out of Barcelona to the UK in 2007, I made a valiant attempt to get my passport stamped. There was no one at passport control on the way to the gate so I went back to the passport control officer who was stamping people in. He refused to help me and there seemed to be no one else around. Of course I had my passport stamped on the way in to the UK so at least that would help in case of future difficulties, but I don't know what else I could have done in Barcelona to get a stamp. Also at that time we had to fill in forms upon entry to Spain which we were supposed to return upon departure. According to that piece of paper I guess I am still in Spain.
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Old Sep 16th, 2012, 11:55 AM
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I am an Australian travelling visa free in Europe.

I arrived in Schengen Greece on April 17 and return on October 4 such that on October 16, I will have been in the Schengen Area an accumulated 90 days, satisfying the maximum of 90 days in any (180 day) 6 month period rule. Can I start a second 90 days and 6 months on October 17 or do I have to leave for some period such as 90 days as some people are telling me?

Perhaps I may have to start a second 90 days and 6 months from October 4 which will still give me a valuable extra 78 days!
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Old Sep 16th, 2012, 12:45 PM
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Can I start a second 90 days and 6 months on October 17 or do I have to leave for some period such as 90 days as some people are telling me?

What you don't tell us is after arriving in Greece on April 17, when did you leave Schengen? If it was 90 days after arrival, you must stay away for 90 days before you can re-enter Schengen. If it was less than 90 days, say 60 days, you can still stay the remaining 30 days in the period of 180 days from April 17.
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Old Sep 16th, 2012, 12:49 PM
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October 16th marks the end of your 90 days in 180. You then have to go away for 90 days before you can restart the clock, otherwise people could stay more or less continuously visa free by just leaving the zone for a week or two.
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Old Nov 15th, 2013, 03:08 PM
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I got permission to stay for 6 months in italy before the 6 month period is up iam returning to the USA ... i was told i have to stay in the USA for 6 months is this true?? i was planning on returning to italy after 4 months...does anyone have an answer
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Old Nov 15th, 2013, 03:42 PM
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>> i was told i have to stay in the USA for 6 months is this true??
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Old Nov 15th, 2013, 03:44 PM
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Hi Confused, welcome to Fodor's.

Many people may see the OP's (original poster's) message and respond to that, not seeing your question. Plus, it's an old thread, so another reason people may not notice your question of today.

Post your question as its own thread and you may have better response potential. Cheers.
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Old Nov 15th, 2013, 03:45 PM
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Woops, you did get a response, and a good one.
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Old Nov 15th, 2013, 10:59 PM
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It depends on the type of visa you have for Italy (e.g. Type C, Type D etc). Most have fixed validity period - 'valid from and 'valid until', and no matter how long you are away from Italy, the visa expires of the date stated.
Tell us what it says on your visa and we can advise.
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