Travel Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for road warriors and seasoned travelers. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

According to law, what are the consequences of a US citizen overstaying a Schengen visa?

In practice, how likely is one to be penalized for overstaying by a day, 10 days, and a month?

Are there countries that are more likely to enforce the rules on departure?

share|improve this question
possible duplicate of Consequences of overstaying Schengen visa in Switzerland – Karlson Feb 11 '13 at 21:12
why would you assume it's different for a US citizen? – vartec Feb 12 '13 at 10:42
I don't think this is a duplicate. This question asks for a legal citation as well as for likelihood of enforcement. – johndbritton Feb 13 '13 at 16:45
@vartec - I don't assume it's different for a US citizen. Whenever I ask questions about visas on Travel.SE there's always a request for the citizenship of the person. – johndbritton Feb 13 '13 at 16:47
@vartec it can be different. For example, NZ has prior agreements with countries like Spain that supersede any 90-day limits in the EU. – Mark Mayo Feb 13 '13 at 16:56
up vote 12 down vote accepted

Where you're from is likely irrelevant. Overstaying is overstaying, you're not going to get treated more harshly or kindly because of who your president/king/prime minister is.

There's a great piece "Overstaying Schengen visa" that is relevant to this.

Consequences of overstaying

This could result in a:

  • no consequence - if you're lucky, and this will depend greatly on who you deal with and what mood they're in.
  • fine - the smallest and easiest problem - although it can be expensive, it's solvable with money. Have heard of 700 Euro fines for being 20 days over.
  • record - they may put something on your personal record for the Schengen countries, making it hard to get a visa in future.
  • ban on entry - you may be banned for 1-3 years (usual length of time).
  • deportation - very bad to have on your record, can affect all other travel to non-Schengen countries as well.

In terms of some countries being more strict, if you are 'banned', you're more likely to get back in by applying to one of the countries only recently admitted to the area. They're allegedly more likely to approve (presumably either lack of records, or for touristic purposes).

If you're then denied further re-entry, you can at best try to appeal for a visa - say for example, on grounds of compassion. For more information, read about the Schengen visa appeal process.

share|improve this answer
As far as I know, applying for a visa is not possible if your citizenship does not require one in the first place. The proper procedure is to appeal any warning or database entry about yourself to the relevant country (you also have a right to know if there is one). – Relaxed Mar 11 '14 at 12:32

There is actually no set law to answer any of these questions besides that you get 90 nonconsecutive days in Schengen as an American. If you are thinking to leave to Turkey for 4 days when your counter hits 86 days in Schengen, expecting to clear your stays (like many people assume), and you come back to Schengen, the counter starts right back up from 86 days. You have to be out of Schengen for 3 months in an 180 day period before you are cleared of your 90 days in.

As for being penalized: You can get the full 1200 euro fine for overstaying by one day. It depends on the officer, the country, what you look like, how you act...hence me saying just play dumb and oblivious in my previous comment.

However, if you want to hear of countries that could be more relaxed on this subject, this would not be a 'legal' answer, because those with the knowledge of that, have already done an 'illegal' thing by overstaying. And I guess I cannot give these answers according to experience on stack exchange!

Good luck!

share|improve this answer
You can give answers according to experience -- everybody here does that. The wording of your other answer gives an impression that it's okay to do it and nobody would care, which is in fact wrong. That's why it has been downvoted -- but not deleted. – mindcorrosive Apr 27 '13 at 10:15
Where does the info on 1200 € fine come from? And for which country does it apply? – Relaxed Mar 11 '14 at 12:34
Actually, in the Turkey example you give, the counter starts at 87, not 86, because the day of entry and the day of exit both count. – phoog Mar 17 at 19:09

I cannot provide a comprehensive answer or comparison between Schengen countries but I can add a few bits of relevant information:

  • There are no firm rules at the EU level about that. Schengen countries honor each other's bans through a database called the SIS but they did not agree on the exact circumstances under which people should be banned. EU regulations define how long you are allowed to stay but fines and other penalties for breaking these rules are defined at the national level.

  • Enforcement does seem to differ markedly from one country to the next. Unfortunately I don't have any authoritative source at hand but I heard or read several times that there are massive differences between countries regarding the number of entries of each kind in the SIS. For example, some countries issue bans for virtually any infringement of immigration rules and for every deportation, while others only bother for the most serious cases (people found guilty of a crime, etc.) This information is a few years old, though, so it might be changing.

  • Legally, once there is an entry in the SIS about you, you shouldn't be able to go around it by applying for a visa. EU regulations are clear about that, being banned/flagged in the SIS should lead to being denied entry or a visa, as applicable. Your main recourse would be appealing the entry to the authorities of the country that put it in there in the first place. Each Schengen member state should offer a way to check if there is in fact an entry about you and some means to appeal it but the exact procedure will also differ from one country to the next.

  • A ban is a very real possibility, even for a relatively minor infringement noticed while you are leaving. This report from the Dutch national ombudsman mentions the case of a US citizen overstaying for 19 days following some confusion around a residence application who was denied entry and detained when coming back a few months later (see p. 27). Her lawyers were able to have the notice removed but it did happen, even without warning or deportation proceedings.

As (random) examples, here are two webpages I happened to come across recently about these issues:

Each Schengen member states would have rules like those (unfortunately not always readily available in English on the web), with some small differences.

share|improve this answer

You won't get caught. I overstayed my Schengen visa for like 6 months each year for 4 years. I am alive and kicking and now I have a permanent working visa in a Scandinavian country. It is all about confidence and knowing the rules, and then playing dumb if you get yourself in a sticky situation.

You hold the blue passport, which makes you a VIP man. Sorry if that sounds bratty. I wrote a whole post how to escape the Schengen Zone once you have overstayed it. Check it out if you want ideas!

share|improve this answer
Sounds bratty indeed. Question states "According to law", your answer promotes disobeying the law. – Saaru Lindestøkke Apr 26 '13 at 10:39
I'm not promoting it, I am giving him a real life example. He wanted to know the consequences, but he should also understand the reality. Has anyone else who has commented here experienced any of this? I'd be more interested in talking to someone who has risked it and has been through it then someone who looked up 'facts' online. – Lindsey Apr 26 '13 at 12:45
On stackexchange it is encouraged to give answers that are based on these "facts". I understand that the Travel.SE is slightly different in this regard as travel experience is a valuable knowledge source. However one person having a certain experience does not mean that the other (e.g. the question asker) will have the same experience, hence I think this answer is not suitable for the stackexchange format. It might be valueble somewhere else (e.g. your blog). – Saaru Lindestøkke Apr 26 '13 at 14:08

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.