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?

  • 4
    possible duplicate of Consequences of overstaying Schengen visa in Switzerland
    – Karlson
    Feb 11, 2013 at 21:12
  • 3
    why would you assume it's different for a US citizen?
    – vartec
    Feb 12, 2013 at 10:42
  • 8
    @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. Feb 13, 2013 at 16:47
  • 5
    @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, 2013 at 16:56
  • 4
    @MarkMayo: An important clarification on those extra agreements: in most cases, if you take advantage of them to legally stay longer in Schengen, you must not re-enter or transit through a country without such an agreement. Example: 89 days in Spain, 89 days in Denmark, 89 days in Poland. Go from Poland to Netherlands, boom. You have been 267 continuous days in Schengen!
    – WGroleau
    Jun 16, 2017 at 15:00

4 Answers 4


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.

  • 4
    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, 2014 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!

  • 2
    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. Apr 27, 2013 at 10:15
  • 2
    Where does the info on 1200 € fine come from? And for which country does it apply?
    – Relaxed
    Mar 11, 2014 at 12:34
  • 3
    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, 2016 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.


I want to put in my experience in case it can help anyone who is currently overstaying a tourist visa in Europe. Of course, the best way to avoid any of this is to simply be aware of the rules, sometimes it can be confusing or it can slip your mind, putting you in a tough situation. For starters, as of 2017, you can stay in the Schengen zone for 90 days out of a 180 day period. Here was my situation:

I accidentally overstayed for about 2 months when I was working (under the table) in Spain, as I somehow thought that i could stay in Schengen for 180 days total instead of 90. In a slight panic, I went on some forums, asked my spanish friends, and they almost all told me the same thing, if you are in Spain, nobody really cares if you are an overstay at least when you are American. I was still paranoid about this, and was a bit nervous when i got to the airport for my departure flight to Seattle.

The passport checker at the airport literally did not even look at my passport before stamping it and handing it back to me. And after that I was on my way.

In conclusion, all the research I did at the time, plus my own experience has told me that if you have overstayed and want to leave, the authorities in Spain and Portugal will more than likely not bat an eye about it. I have heard of course that if you are leaving from The Netherlands or Germany or possibly Scandanavia, they are much more strict, and you will more than likely face some sort of penalty or at the least some questioning.

Important note: I have not been back to Europe since, so I am unsure if there are any consequences waiting for me, but as I mentioned, this is mostly for people who are already overstaying and are weighing their options. If you are trying to leave without being hassled, I would recommend Spain or Portugal.

Hope this helps, -T

  • "or possibly Scandanavia" Not Sweden - we're (in)famous for turning a blind eye to hordes of illegal immigrants, including criminal ones
    – Crazydre
    Sep 17, 2017 at 1:32

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