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I am a non-eu citizen however I hold a German residence permit (type D).

I am entitled to travel to other Schengen countries for 90 days out of every 180 days.

My question is this:

If was to be in a Schengen country other than Germany and an immigration officer asked me to prove that I had been there less than 90 days, how much proof would I need to provide to be given clearance? Would a train ticket showing my date of arrival be enough? Would I also have to show bank transactions proving that I was in Germany prior to the date on the train ticket?

I am just wondering how thorough they are when it comes to validating the evidence of location provided by a traveller. It seems as though it would be pretty easy to buy a train ticket but not actually take the train and then use it as (fake) evidence of your whereabouts. Am I wrong?

Also, when is this check likely to occur? When I fly home to my country after my residence permit expires, are they likely to pull me up at the airport and look over how many days I spent outside of Germany in other Schengen countries? Or is it only gonna happen if I get unlucky at a border crossing?

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    The checks basically never happen without deeper reason (criminal or fiscal investigation), no one really knows what can satisfy the authorities, especially not every authority in Schengen. Some countries require hotels or landlords to transmit data for fiscal or immigration reasons, countries also have processes to catch illegal workers if you plan on working outside.
    – xngtng
    Feb 15 at 19:12
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    Realistically, these rules are there to give the police some cover. They are catching poor people, people who get some temporary permit in Italy and do undeclared work in a restaurant in France or even people who don't have a stable job and engage in criminal conduct. If you are struggling to make ends meet, consistently buying a train ticket every three months to maintain appearances is not that easy.
    – Relaxed
    Feb 15 at 19:26
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    Once you're in a situation where this matters (say caught in a police inspection in a restaurant), you're likely to be removed rather swiftly, the fine details of the rule of evidence are unlikely to matter. It's only if you try to dispute that in court that it would make a difference but most people don't have the resources needed to go that far.
    – Relaxed
    Feb 15 at 19:27
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    Beyond that, I don't think getting train tickets is a good idea. Staying longer is not very risky, the likelihood of being challenged or facing serious consequences is very limited but if you are it's better to take the hit and accept to return to Germany than try to lie or produce fraudulent tickets. Personally I would also look for a way to make this official (securing work in Sweden, registering your partnership, etc.). It would give you some peace of mind and, most importantly, a paper trail if you want to secure long-term residence or apply for citizenship in the future.
    – Relaxed
    Feb 15 at 20:05
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    do you think I'd be allowed to do that? Not exactly, I would expect you to be handed over to the German authorities, although as phoog explained, nothing is certain. That's the cheapest and most convenient way to get rid of you for the Swedish authorities and happening routinely in Southern Europe. Invalidating your German visa/permit or banning you from the Schengen area is difficult, the German document you have is issued under national law and it's not up to another country to interfere with it (it's not comparable to a Schengen visa in this respect).
    – Relaxed
    Feb 15 at 22:39
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how much proof would I need to provide to be given clearance?

There's no fixed answer to this question. It depends on your credibility and on the basis for the demand for proof of your presence in Schengen countries other than Germany.

when is this check likely to occur?

It is likely to occur if you come to the attention of police or immigration authorities in a Schengen country other than Germany under circumstances that suggest that you are residing there or at least regularly spending more than half of your time there.

When I fly home to my country after my residence permit expires, are they likely to pull me up at the airport and look over how many days I spent outside of Germany in other Schengen countries?

No. In that circumstance they are more likely to be concerned with the fact that you were present in the Schengen area after the expiration of your residence permit.

Or is it only gonna happen if I get unlucky at a border crossing?

It's almost certainly not going to happen at a border crossing unless you are wanted for a crime and there is a record of that in one of the databases that are checked when you cross the border.

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  • What is the sort of thing that might raise awareness that I am spending more than half of my time outside of Germany? Feb 15 at 18:43
  • And do you think it is likely that they would ask me to show bank transactions which prove my location? Or is this more of a last resort? Feb 15 at 18:45
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    @JohnRogers (1) observation, for example during the course of a criminal investigation. (2) it really depends on why they're asking. Most of the time they'll leave you alone as soon as they see your German residence permit. Maybe in some particularly strict places they will ask you some questions about your movements. If they're unsatisfied, they might ask for further evidence.
    – phoog
    Feb 15 at 19:04
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    @JohnRogers anything that credibly indicates that you were in a particular place at a particular time. Practice may vary from one country to another, as immigration enforcement is a matter of national law. Bank records and train tickets, as you've mentioned, may help, but nothing is incontrovertible. Certainly, presenting incomplete or false evidence in support of a false claim is asking for trouble.
    – phoog
    Feb 15 at 19:57
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    I would also add that being asked at a border crossing might happen (it has happened to my spouse at a gate check on arrival) if there is some reason to suspect that you might be abusing the system, such as if you have moved from country A to country B within Schengen, but then later re-enter via country A speaking country-A language fluently. I'm not sure what evidence they would have wanted in her case, as they lost interest when I turned up with a low-risk passport and a clearly-rusty command of the language.
    – Lll
    Feb 17 at 23:01
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Within the Schengen area there are no systematic border controls. You can still be asked to show your passport, but all the authorities will be interested in that your passport is real, that it is yours, and that you have a valid visa or residence permit. In practice the 90/180 day rule is not enforced at intra Schengen borders. There is no practical way to do so, as your travels around Europe are not monitored. (And this thankfully so).

However it may be enforced at your place of residence. Most European countries require you to officially take up residence, and register with the local authorities at the place where you spend most of your time. This is a concept that people from common law countries may not be familiar with. And they can require you to prove that indeed you official residence is where you spend most of your time.

I had to do this when I moved to my present residence in Switzerland (and I am a Swiss citizen!). I travel a lot, spend a lot of time abroad for work. I had to prove to the local authorities of the village that I wanted to make my primary residence, that indeed, this is where I spend most of my time. I did that by giving them a printout of all the train tickets I bought in a year, showing me going away (and back) to this place on a regular basis. (That I buy all my train tickets on line made this easier).

So if you are a German D-permit holder, and have registered as a resident in, for example Berlin, and the authorities find out that you have not spend enough time at your registered address to qualify as a resident then you could indeed get in to trouble. So in this way the 90/180 rule, which really is a "spend most of your time at your primary residence" rule is indeed sort of enforced.

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  • Ok I understand what you're getting at. I have a few questions though... How would the authorities find that I have not spent much time at my registered address? And in what situation would I be required to prove that my official residence is where I spend most of my time? Would it be at the airport on the way home? Or would it happen only if they were to somehow notice that I wasn't spending time there? Feb 16 at 13:36
  • (+1) Note that this doesn't exist in France (and sounds quite shocking to most French people) so it isn't really a case of civil law vs. common law.
    – Relaxed
    Feb 16 at 13:38
  • @JohnRogers but this is only tangentially related to the 90/180 rule. As far as your registered residence in Berlin is concerned, spending 2 of every 3 weeks in Leipzig is just as bad as spending that much time in Sweden, but the first does not implicate the 90/180 rule and the second does. Sure, if the registration office suspects that you're not using your registered residence as your primary residence, it probably increases the chance that immigration officers will take an interest, but it's not necessarily assured that they will, and the probabilities are still small.
    – phoog
    Feb 17 at 2:21
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    The most realistic mannor for the registry office to get involved is when (for whatever reason) an official letter, that requires a reply, has not been answered. Depending on how serious the affair is (witness for a court), they might order the police to go by and try to determine where you are. Eventually a missing persons report would also sent to the registry office. There is definitely no automatic 'ping' on people's whereabouts. After each national census the registry is regularly cleaned up, removing entries about peaple who have left without anybody noticing. Feb 17 at 11:21

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