While answering this question I wondered: for countries/areas that have rules such as the 90/180 rules of the Schengen Area, do airlines bother to count how long you have already been in the area?

As we all know, airlines have a duty to check documentation of boarding passengers to make sure they have the required paperwork (valid passport, valid visa or travel authorisation/electronic visa if required...). If they let someone without the relevant paperwork board and reach the destination country, they not only have to carry them back, but in many cases also face penalties (which can be quite hefty).

Airlines obviously can't check everything (they don't have all the information), but do they have to count the days a passenger has stayed in the Schengen Area in the last 180 days (by checking the stamps in the passport)? That would seem like a quite time-consuming (and error-prone) process. Or is that checked as part of Advance Passenger Information screening?

Does anyone have any experience of this? Do airlines have to do it? Do they actually do it (never / sometimes / often / always)? Do they even have enough information to do it?

  • 5
    It’s not their responsibility. That’s the passengers responsibility. It would be unfair to expect airlines to do that considering some passengers are frequent travelers with complex travel plans and histories. They are limited to confirming the validity of the visa, that’s it. Dec 10, 2018 at 11:30
  • @HonoraryWorldCitizen that would be my guess as well, but border authorities try to push more and more work on the side of the airlines, so anything is possible. Also, it could be part of the API process, so the actual check could be done by the authorities, but it would still be the airline refusing boarding at the origin.
    – jcaron
    Dec 10, 2018 at 11:35
  • 2
    @HonoraryWorldCitizen and jcaron, it could not be part of the API process since there is no database of Schengen entry and exit.records.
    – phoog
    Dec 10, 2018 at 13:02
  • 1
    I don't know about other jurisdictions with similar cumulative rules. But yes, the only way to check tune spent in Schengen remains passport- stamp hunting.
    – phoog
    Dec 10, 2018 at 13:53
  • 1
    @Johns-305 I don't think anyone thinks APIS is fake. It's just that there is no Schengen database that could be used to check the travel history, regardless of what information was made available to the destination country before boarding.
    – phoog
    Dec 11, 2018 at 2:30

4 Answers 4


Purely anecdotal & conjecture answer

  1. Airlines rarely rummage through your passport to find an entry or exit stamp. That takes a lot of time in my passport, and I notice when it's happening at immigration or check in.
  2. Airlines will sometimes collect or inspect your departure record card (if applicable)
  3. They do look at the expiration date of your passport and the presence & date of Visa (if applicable)
  4. Some airlines are indeed plugged into the immigration data bases of some destination countries. They will check if you are on a do-not-fly list. Another example: I once checked-in in Tokyo for a flight to Australia and due to me being stupid, my ETA (electronic travel authorization) had not enough days left in. The check-in agent flagged this immediately (and was nice enough to help me out). Since the ETA isn't physically in the passport, the only way for her to know this would be direct access to the Australian ETA system from her check in desk.

for countries/areas that have rules such as the 90/180 rules of the Schengen Area, do airlines bother to count how long you have already been in the area?

It’s not the airline responsibility to calculate those dates. That’s the passengers responsibility. It would be unfair to expect airlines to do that considering some passengers are frequent travelers with complex travel plans and histories. They are limited to confirming the validity of the visa, no fly lists, etc that’s it

For the United States APIS, this is the information required

  • Full name (last name, first name, middle name if applicable)
  • Gender

  • Date of birth

  • Nationality

  • Country of residence

  • Travel document type (normally passport)

  • Travel document number (expiry date and country of issue for passport)

  • [For travellers to the US] Address of the first night spent in the US (not required for US nationals, legal permanent residents, or alien residents of the US entering the US)

  • Can you refer to an authoritative source for your list? (I'm particularly curious about the exceptions for the address.)
    – phoog
    Dec 10, 2018 at 13:05
  • @phoog The first two exceptions arise because they have an absolute right to enter the US (even if they refuse to provide the information). They have to provide the preceding information to demonstrate that they have that right . Dec 10, 2018 at 13:39
  • 1
    @MartinBonner yet I have been asked for my address when flying to the US with a US passport. The absolute right to enter the US does not constitute a right to board a plane for the US after refusing to comply with US administrative requirements.
    – phoog
    Dec 10, 2018 at 13:50
  • @phoog but it might constitute a right not to have the US government force the airline to refuse you boarding if you don't provide it. Dec 10, 2018 at 16:47
  • 2
    @GaneshSittampalam: The airline will generally play it safe and refuse boarding if the paperwork isn't clean. That's part of their terms and conditions the passenger agrees to and the airline will be very careful to avoid the heavy fines that the US threatens them with.
    – Hilmar
    Dec 10, 2018 at 17:11

It is (normally) the airlines responsibility to confirm that you have the requirement documents to enter the country you are travelling to. It is NOT their responsibility to confirm that you meet the requirements to actually use those documents.

For example, if you are travelling to a country that requires a visa, and you show the airline a tourist visa, then they have met their level of responsibility around confirming that you have the documents required.

If you subsequently arrive at the border and state you are there to work, then you will likely be refused entry due to not holding the correct documents for your intended visit - but the airline will not in any way be held responsible because you did hold documents that would have, in a general sense, have allowed you to enter the country.

The same is true for time limits like the Schengen 90/180 day rule. The airline is required to confirm that you hold whatever documents are required to enter your destination country (which might be a visa, or simply just a passport from a country that doesn't require a visa). They are NOT required to confirm anything beyond that, such as whether you have sufficient days left in your 90 days for your stay - that is left to the immigration staff at the destination airport.

For some countries there is an additional step that the airline must carry out, which is that an electronic check must be done at check-in to confirm that the passenger is allowed enter the country. For example, all Australian visas are electronic, so the airline needs to electronically confirm with the Australian government that the passenger is allowed board the flights as a means of checking their visa. It's certainly possible that a country could enforce additional checks as a part of that process, but I'm not aware of any that currently do so beyond basic things like checking if the passenger is on a "no-fly" list.


There's not that much that an airline can do even if you did overstay your visa.

Generally, it's the airlines responsibility to make sure you are allowed to go from A to B, but not to make sure you had the right to be in A. At least, I think that would be the most common problem: people returning home after overstaying their visa.

But what could or should they do if some passenger arrives at the airport, after staying too long. Should they not bring them home? And if they do, who will fine the airline, and for what exactly?

  • 1
    The question was about the opposite: checking if a passenger at A, boarding a flight to B, has not already exceeded the 90/180 rule applying at B, and then preventing them from boarding.
    – jcaron
    Dec 11, 2018 at 9:32

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .