How does the EU countries know if someone has overstayed when they do not enter/exit the external border/airport?

For example, if you travel by plane, you'll get stamped on your passport and maybe you will get register for your traveling in the Schegen information system (SIS).

However, if you travel by bus or train, I don't think you will get travelling register.

So how do they know if you overstayed?

Edit: I mean for a person to traveling within the Schengen Area to another country other than the country that they have a residence permit

Because a friend of mine (he was an EU resident) travel to another EU country by bus. And he said the Police just look at his residence permit and not taking note/stampped/register anything at all

Because EU resident are allowed to stay 90 days visa free within the Schegen area. So when they overstayed those 90 days, I'm curious how will the gornverment know?

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Willeke
    Jul 15, 2020 at 14:21

3 Answers 3


Enforcing this very strictly is not a priority. There are ways to know (asking neighbours, looking at financial transactions, rent agreements, local police noticing your car a lot, etc.) but I don't think they are used a lot. In some countries, hotels and other commercial accommodation providers also have to check their guests ID but that's not the case everywhere and I suspect those data are not used systematically either.

The main point of the rule is what it doesn't do: you don't have the right to live in another Schengen country, take up employment or avail yourself of public help. In that context, the 90-day threshold is just a pragmatic definition of where visits ends and residence starts, which happens to track the limit between Schengen short-stay visas and national long-stay visas.

Note that entries and exits from the entire Schengen area are not recorded in the SIS either (there is another system for that, which hasn't come online yet). That's what stamps are for but that too isn't enforced very strictly. We are getting used to the notion that states should use computer systems to check each and every traveller's comings and goings and that staying 91 days is a very serious offense but it isn't how immigration law worked until the 90s and simply isn't how most laws work even today. You don't need enforcement to be systematic and automated for a rule to have real effects or be useful.

On the other hand, if you attract negative attention to yourself or you're found working (illegally) on a construction site or in a restaurant, all these rules make it easier to remove you. That's how many immigration violations come to the attention of the authorities in the first place and was until relatively recently the only enforcement priority in many countries.

  • 2
    This is the real answer, and this concept gets very little recognition these days, so +10 if it were possible. The EU and its member states have traditionally sought to avoid being police states, and systematic enforcement tends to create a police state, especially with immigration, but also elsewhere: why not have highway checkpoints requiring all drivers to show license, registration and insurance? Why don't countries with ID laws have checkpoints where everyone passing must show their identification? Why not give tourists ankle monitors so you can find them if they overstay?
    – phoog
    Jul 15, 2020 at 13:23
  • 3
    The answer: because the negative impact this would have on society outweighs the benefit in reducing violations of the law. In this case, of course, the negative impact of imposing systematic controls at internal Schengen borders impedes the very goal of the Schengen area itself, which is to establish frictionless border crossing for people. As ably explained here, the rules remain useful nonetheless.
    – phoog
    Jul 15, 2020 at 13:25
  • 1
    @phoog You ought to visit Bulgaria. There spot checks are common; I've been subject to three in the Sofia Metro alone for speaking a foreign language on the phone. They also routinely deport EU citizens who've stayed beyond 90 days without an EU residence permit (they record entries/exits), even though the freedom of movement directive prohibits that.
    – Crazydre
    Jul 15, 2020 at 15:06

Within the Schengen area, they usually don't know. That's the price to pay for having low-friction travel over the internal borders.

  • Any attempt to work illegally could come to the attention of the fiscal authorities.
  • Similar for formal education.
  • The lack of a presence in the country where they are supposed to be could cause problems, e.g. for a job or student visa.

That leaves the option to get a weekend cottage and to stay there all the time. The Schengen countries are willing to take that risk.


Schengen doesn't register entries/exits electronically - SIS certainly has nothing to do with that.

It is through entry/exit stamps that overstays can be detected, though not all border agents are scrupulous about checking them.

When travelling within the Schengen Area, no stamps are issued, so there is indeed no easy way to check if the 90-day rule for residence permit holders has been respected or not.

  • Thank you very much, that make sense now.
    – Blain
    Jul 13, 2020 at 21:15
  • One more question, so the SIS database will only able to store data about the entry/exit based on the stamp, criminal records of the passport/residence permit holder right?
    – Blain
    Jul 13, 2020 at 21:19
  • @Blain SIS "knows" nothing about entries/exits to/from the Schengen area. There's no database for that at all. And nothing is stamped or registered when travelling within Schengen
    – Crazydre
    Jul 13, 2020 at 21:20
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    @Blain "No one is gonna dig up my profile to find out that I'm overstayed" I tell you again, there is no database recording this until EES is introduced in 2022, and even that will only be for entries/exits at the external Schengen border
    – Crazydre
    Jul 13, 2020 at 22:14
  • 2
    @Blain at present the only record of your movements is in your passport. As has been mentioned, the forthcoming Entry/Exit System is going to be a database of entries and exits from the Schengen area, but it has not yet been implemented, so nobody can look you up in it. Furthermore, it won't record internal border crossings, so it will continue to be the case that there is no systematic way to catch residence permit holders who violate the 90/180 rule in other Schengen countries. Such people are only subject to enforcement if they come to the attention of the police for some other reason.
    – phoog
    Jul 14, 2020 at 1:43

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