I hold an EU passport of a Schengen area member state and travelled on a day trip to Hungary. In Hungary, I walked to and then along the outer Schengen border until I reached a border crossing, where I ended up between the border checkpoints of the two neighbouring countries. During my walk along the green border (i.e. a grass strip, without any fences or other barriers), I took a large number of photos of the grass strip and border markings (stones).

Believing that I had done nothing illegal, I went to the Hungarian border checkpoint and explained that I had not left the Schengen area and was legally allowed to be in Hungary. To prove this, I showed the border police officers a photo of the grass strip I walked on and a border marker, which showed that the grass strip was still inside the Schengen area. I had to hand over my phone, and the border police officers went through all the photos I took that day, then I was instructed to irrecoverably delete all my photos from the border area.

This was during Coronavirus travel restrictions – I was allowed to cross the border between Hungary and my home country, but apparently travel between Hungary and the non-Schengen neighbouring country was still generally prohobited. Travel to the non-Schengen country would not normally require a visa for me.

I was eventually allowed to pass the border checkpoint, but one of the border police officers told me that I will face a hefty fine for the photos I took, with a friendly smile that made me unsure whether he was serious or just joking. Another border police agent told me that being in the immediate vicinity of the outer Schengen border is prohibited by itself, but none of them seemed to know the exact legal situation particularly well.

What consequences should I fear now?

  • 1
    Article 5 of the Schengen Borders code provides that “external borders may be crossed only at border crossing points” (with some exceptions that do not apply here) and that member states should define sanctions that are “effective, proportionate and dissuasive.” Nothing more specific and no measures against walking close to the border or taking pictures. The rest would be specific to Hungary. It might be worth editing the question to focus it more narrowly on this.
    – Relaxed
    Jun 6, 2020 at 17:35
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    If you're seriously concerned about criminal consequences, you probably ought to be talking to a lawyer instead of a travel Q&A website. For instance, a lawyer might tell you that it is not in your best interest to be "confessing" your actions on a public website, even if you think you are anonymous. Jun 6, 2020 at 18:53
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    @MartinSmith: Since OP is an EU citizen, there is apparently an EU scheme whereby Hungary can have OP's home country execute the fine, more or less automatically. ec.europa.eu/info/law/cross-border-cases/judicial-cooperation/… Jun 6, 2020 at 23:01
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    I’m voting to close this question because its a legal question with only an incidental connection to travel.
    – user105640
    Jun 7, 2020 at 12:27
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    They probably laughed because even they didn't agree with the law. I'm not sure about this, but Hungarian BTK's 353/A. § (5) E a) or b) might be against what you did. (see net.jogtar.hu/jogszabaly?docid=A1200100.TV link in Hungarian of course) Basically helping illegal immigration is illegal itself, and spying on the border could fit into this category. Asking you to delete those pictures saves you from the consequences (if they wanted to press charges they would've seized your phone, 1 year of jail btw) and them (in case you published them somewhere and the guards' boss found those).
    – Nyos
    Jun 18, 2020 at 18:26


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