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Visiting Eastern Europe - planes, trains, and stamps?

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May 5th, 2015, 02:41 PM
  #1
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Visiting Eastern Europe - planes, trains, and stamps?

I am an American citizen who is an avid passport stamp collector and I was wondering if someone could help with this situation. I will be spending some time in Europe in October and am interested in taking a train around several Eastern European countries. I know that when one passes from the UK into the EU (like when I took the train from London to Paris and back) I was stamped in/out both directions on both sides. I am unsure what the protocol is for Eastern European countries - my Danish friend said that because they are former Soviet countries they would have passport control between each country but I would like confirmation of that.

The plan is to fly into Madrid, spend the weekend with a friend, then travel on to EE. It looks like quite a few of the countries are now considered EU - so does this mean arriving in, say, Zagreb I would not receive a stamp since I am coming from within the EU in Madrid? Also is there passport control on the trains when passing into a new country? I've done the Benelux+Germany Eurail pass and did not ever receive a stamp since they are all EU, so I did not know if this would be different.

We will have 3-4 days of traveling by train then I will proceed to fly to Amsterdam for a wedding. If we end in, say, Macedonia am I correct in assuming I will get stamped out there and then stamped in to AMS?

If someone could advise a route to see several cities that would be fantastic. It looks like a good mix of EU/non-EU countries all border one another. I would love as many stamps as feasible since my passport expires next year and I'm not too far from having it completely filled (which is a goal I'm hoping to achieve!)

I know this post kinda makes me sound like a crazy person so hopefully everyone understands what I am asking and I appreciate any advice that is provided
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May 5th, 2015, 04:07 PM
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Also is there passport control on the trains when passing into a new country? I've done the Benelux+Germany Eurail pass and did not ever receive a stamp since they are all EU, so I did not know if this would be different.>

Not ordinarily but can always be but they don't stamp passports IME - night trains from Amsterdam for instance I have been on had police/customs people look into our compartments and all but no now never asked for your passport within Schengen area - that is the key not the EU - the Schengen Agreement trying to eliminate or lessen internal European trade and travel has eliminated border formalities between those countries, which includes non EU countries - well Switzerland anyway.

For good info on Eastern European trains - check these IMO superb sources - www.seat61.com; www.ricksteves.com and www.budgeteuropetravel.com.

You will get your passport always stamped when landing by air, water or car in the U.K. because they insist on being an island fortress and not part of the Schengen Agreement - nothing much to do with the EU as some EU countries like the U.K. ain't in it (and U K may not even be in EU for long or even Europe for that matter!)
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May 6th, 2015, 06:19 AM
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Good point about the Schengen being the real factor and not just the EU! I'll look into which countries are Schengen and see if that helps me at all.

So just to confirm, if traveling outside the Schengen zone we would go through passport control between countries even on the trains, right? I expect they would all want to approve any person visiting their country.
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May 6th, 2015, 07:18 AM
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Yes if not in Schengen that means IMO that a country like the U K is paranoid about who comes in and they will stamp your passport with a short visa and stamp you on the way out too. Some countries may inspect and not stamp but you can IME request a stamp.
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May 6th, 2015, 09:07 AM
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Thank you very much for your help PalenQ!
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May 6th, 2015, 09:41 AM
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In 2013 we went by plane to Budapest (stamp there) train from Budapest to Zagreb ( stamp in gyekenyle , Hungary) , (stamp in Koprivnica , Croatia), train Zagreb to Sarejevo (stamp in Vloinja ,Croatia), (stamp in ?? Can't read , BosniaHerzegovina), by car from Mostar to Dubrovnik (stamp in Cepikuce, Croatia), Dubrovnik to London by plane (stamps in Dubrovnik and London .each stamp has a symbol for the type of transport you are travelling on eg car, train, plane . Quite cute really . This question just got me to open my passport and look. Of course immigration board the trains .
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May 13th, 2015, 08:44 AM
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Thank you for your help northie! I'm definitely considering your experience since it seems like you saw some great places and received a lot of stamps!
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May 17th, 2015, 09:01 AM
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I just got back from a trip to the Balkans - to Bosnia, Croatia and Slovenia. Only Slovenia is part of Schengen. Croatia is part of the EU, but not part of Schengen. Bosnia is not part of EU.

As a result, we have the following stamps...

Arrival via plane in Sarajevo. (No stamp when we transited through Munich airport as we weren't stopping in the EU on this leg.)

Crossing border by bus from Bosnia into Croatia (at Metcovic)

Crossing border by train from Croatia into Slovenia (2 stamps - one leaving Croatia at Savski Marof and one entering Slovenia at Dubova.

Transiting through Munich airport on flight from Ljubljana to Toronto.
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May 28th, 2015, 02:12 AM
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Former USSR none EU countries all still do border stamps for land crossing (train & car) even for EU citizens.
So if you land travel across these countries you will get stamps (Serbia, Bosina, Montenegro, Macedonia, Georgia, Armenia)

If you are a non EU citizen, you will be stamped into your arrival EU country then across other EU countries it will be free crossing with no border control, i.e. Spain, Germany, France, Netherlands, Hungary, Austria etc)

Hope that helps.
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Jun 11th, 2015, 06:50 AM
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Okay so here is my itinerary - I'd appreciate any help in confirming where I will be getting stamped.

* Arrive in Frankfurt for layover (will exit passport control to visit friend who lives there) - 1 stamp
* Fly Frankfurt to Budapest - 0 stamps
* Train Budapest to Timisoara - 2 stamps
* Train Timisoara to Belgrade - 2 stamps
* Train Belgrade to Sofia - 2 stamps
* Fly Sofia to Amsterdam (attending a wedding there, so will be staying a few days) - 2 stamps
* Depart Amsterdam for America - 1 stamp

My count is 10 stamps - which is good because I only have 11 blank spaces left in my passport! Looks like I could just go to Canada for a long weekend and finish it off

Does that look right to everyone?
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Jun 11th, 2015, 07:41 AM
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I traveled from Timisoara to Szeged in Hungary last year (on a UK passport). I did not get any stamps.

I traveled between Serbia and Bulgaria in 2011. I did not get any stamps.

The only place in the Balkans for which I have (recent) passport stamps is Croatia, from 2011.

You can always ask, I suppose. If you really want to collect stamps you should be traveling in Asia or the Americas.
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Jun 12th, 2015, 06:30 AM
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Is it maybe because of your passport? I've heard that they don't often stamp EU passports - and the UK would be considered EU. I am traveling on an American passport and everything I have read indicates there would be stamps given.
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Jun 12th, 2015, 07:03 AM
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The UK is part of the EU. It is not part of Schengen.
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Jun 12th, 2015, 07:21 AM
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Given that the Urals limit the end of Europe I'm not sure how you can imagine that Bosnia is Eastern? It has to be central though I see that Wiki cannot agree, just look at a map.

Stamps, in most places they don't exist as they use the bar codes to update databases. I suspect you could ask the UK to stamp you in and out if you want and as long as you smile they might.

As others say, it depends on EU, Schengen, internal Schengen officers, bored staff, you name it. It only is important in those countries where bits of paper are still critical to management of their serfs (oops citizens) .
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Oct 20th, 2015, 11:53 AM
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Well I made this trip last week and wanted to give an update in case anyone is interested to hear how it went! Out of the 10 stamps I predicted, I received 9!

Frankfurt - ✓
Hungary - exited by train ✓
Romania - inbound by train ✓, exited by train ✓
Serbia - inbound by train ✓
Bulgaria - inbound by train ✓, exited by plane ✓
Amsterdam - inbound by plane ✓, exited by plane ✓

Only exiting Serbia did not give me a stamp I am very happy with these results!

I think traveling with an American passport made all the difference. My Danish friend that was with us only received one stamp - entering Serbia. Every other border control agent just looked at his passport and handed it back to him. Overall it was a great trip!
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Oct 21st, 2015, 12:27 PM
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Only exiting Serbia did not give me a stamp>

Supposed Serbian border officials have more important things on their minds now.

Thanks for reporting back!
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Apr 27th, 2016, 10:36 AM
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Have been reading about every country requiring a blank page. Curious how many pages did your 9 stamps take up? Did you have to ask for any of the stamps?
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