Please, please, please. For the love of the travel gods. Know the visa rules required for
your stay. Don’t be forced to change your travel plans – mid travel – like I did. It was an amateur mistake. I can’t even defend this oversight. Luckily, the slip up was caught on day 28 of 90 so, changing my itinerary was relatively painless. Likeness to a wart and less like a disembowelment. Here is what happened:
Schengen Law – a pact made between twenty-six European countries to allow borderless passage among Schengen nations. Sounds wonderful, right? That’s why you miss out on some passport stamps. However, this turns twenty-six countries into one conglomerate much like individual states in the U.S. This poses a problem for long term travelers as stays are visa free for ninety days for every one hundred and eighty.
Schengen Countries (26 total): Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
Non-Schengen: Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania and the United Kingdom.
Is there a way around it? NO. Repercussion for overstaying can be quite brutal with wiggle room only if luck is on your side. Consequences include:
1. Hefty fines – research concludes anywhere from 700 to 1200 euros depending on severity. That’s equivalent to about $800 to $1300 USD.
2. Trouble applying for a visa in the future. Schengen countries are all linked so, information is passed between each other. The record is permanent and no getting around it.
3. Banishment from Europe for about 1-3 years. Yikes.
4. Immediate deportation.
5. A giant, red ‘illegal immigrant’ stamp on your passport. This can cause terrible problems in the future.
1. Nothing. You could slip between the cracks and go on with life.
Why on earth would you risk it? Chances are slim so, do yourself a favor and properly research how long you can stay in an area. Most likely this won’t affect the casual vacationer. However, the new wave of digital nomads should have this done before they fly off into the sunset. Whereas there is no way to cheat the system, there are ways to mold an itinerary so everything fits:
Easiest: Alternate Schengen and Non-Schengen countries. This takes some planning, but, use this Schengen Visa Calculator to help keep track of your stays. Remember you can’t just leave the Schengen for a week and restart your 90 days. You only have 90 days in Schengen, you MUST leave for 90 days.
Involved: Apply for a long-term stay visa. You must pick a host country like France or Spain. Apply for a visa and you could be granted for up to a year. Proof of residence, a notarized promise not to work, bank statements to prove that you can support yourself and a valid passport are the common themes in the application process. Be sure to visit Visa or Embassy websites to check for requirements.
Difficult: Apply for a work visa and enjoy living in your new town. For this visa, likely you will be required to lock a job away immediately so, again. Do the research.
Just silliness: Marry that sexy, French guy you met in the bar last week. It comes with its own hoops to jump through, but, you can to stay!
Hope this is helpful. I’m glad I caught this when I did. There is no sense in getting sent back home with a temporary banishment. Oh, the shame! I should probably mention that I’m no expert despite pouring over websites and articles in a panic-stricken fury. Please, check requirements, rules and regulations when planning a trip.
If you believe that you may have accidentally overstayed contact the nearest Embassy immediately and follow instruction. Logic would suggest that it’s better to come clean than be caught at the airport.
Anyone have any near overstays or Schengen nightmares? How did you handle it?
Your Cobweb Clearer, Kate