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I read that you can take a night train from Belgrade to Zagreb (and I confirmed it in the DB website), but it first goes to Budapest, transfers, and then goes to Zagreb. I also know there's a direct train but I rather want to take the night train in order to save on the accommodation cost.

In this case, is the transit in Budapest handled as a one-day stay in the Schengen area? Or is it like a flight and there's no need to get through immigration?

  • Look that the itinerary of those trains, and notice how many stops they make along the way -- it should be fairly clear that the second option couldn't possibly work (especially given what's happening around Europe lately). | Looking at those options, the night train doesn't seem like a very big win, if at all -- twice the time, longer distance (maybe you have rail pass), super early arrival in Budapest, rather cheap hotels in Belgrade, and so on. Might wanna list pros/cons and reevaluate that idea. Will you really save anything for all that extra hassle? – Dan Mašek Nov 25 '17 at 16:33
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Yes, this counts as entering the Schengen area. If you will be in Hungary at midnight, it will even count as two days.

With trains, you're generally processed into and out of each country when you actually cross the border. There are some exceptions, but the trains you are contemplating are not among them.

  • "There are some excwptions" They can be counted with just one hand – Crazydre Nov 25 '17 at 7:54
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    Thanks! Could you show me an example of the exception? – Blaszard Nov 25 '17 at 14:26
  • For example with the Eurostar, if you depart from Brussels you pass Belgian exit immigration and UK entry immigration even though you will pass through France on your way (But since both France and Belgium are Schengen, you wouldn’t notice it anyway). And I think there were/are also some trains that go from Russia to the Kaliningrad exclave without stopping in the EU which are not considered entering this area. – Jan Nov 25 '17 at 15:06
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    Slavutych to Chornobyl commuter train, nonstop cuts through Belarus. I don't believe Belarus customs stops the train. – Harper Nov 25 '17 at 17:17
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    @Harper There are tons of similar stuff, but it something different, not relevant here. Train from Liberec to Zittau crosses Poland (but does not stop), Train from Ebersbach to Wilthen crosses Czechia (but does not stop). These passengers are not considered to enter the country that is just being crossed. These are examples of en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Privileged_transit_traffic – Vladimir F Nov 25 '17 at 18:46
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The concept of transiting a country's soil without entering the country only exists at airports, with only a couple of provisions for such transit by land transport in the world.

So yes, you'll obviously enter the Schengen Area, with border control taking place at the border.

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