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My home country (Israel) has enacted a set of quarantine rules for residents returning from abroad depending on which countries they visited in the 14 days prior to return.

Question:

If I were to fly from Israel to one Schengen country, and then from there to some other Schengen country and back to the first one before returning to Israel, is there any possible way for Israeli authorities to know I've been to the second country? Supposedly there is no passport control between Schengen countries, but it seems this has at least partly changed due to Covid.

Edit:

You may safely assume that the law in question is stupid and that there is no relevant difference covidwise between country 1 and country 2.

The motivation here is not avoiding quarantine in general, which I'd willingly do, but specifically to avoid quarantine in a government facility rather than at home, since the former is the current law for all who visit country 2.

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    As far as I know most countries ask the people where they have been in the last so many days and if you are found out lying you will have a big problem.
    – Willeke
    Dec 25, 2021 at 19:28
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    Another problem, of course, is that you might be infecting lots of people if you don't respect the quarantine rules. Dec 25, 2021 at 19:50
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    Please stay respectfull and on topic. I have cleaned up the comments, please leave them clean
    – Willeke
    Dec 26, 2021 at 16:35
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    Are there ways you could go from one Schengen country to another without anyone finding out? Sure. Take out a bunch of cash in country A and leave your phone, payment cards, computer, etc., there; then walk/drive across the border to country B at a crossing with no ID checks and spend some time there; and finally go back to country A. Make sure to wear a wig and face mask all the time and change your clothes and the wig frequently so CCTV won’t be able to track you. That should work. Is there any legitimate reason to actually do this? No. Are there reasons not to do it? Oh yes. Dec 27, 2021 at 22:01
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    Even when there are passport checks between Schengen countries, passports are not getting stamped.
    – Relaxed
    Dec 28, 2021 at 8:03

5 Answers 5

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Of course, the real answer is don’t do it.

As usual for this type of questions, the answer is ambiguous. Will they know right away with the info available at the tip of their fingers? Probably not. Can they find out if they really want to? Nearly certainly. With all sorts of levels in between.

Whether you want to or not, you leave a LOT of traces:

  • flights on the same PNR will almost certainly be available to them easily
  • flights booked with a frequent flyer number will leave a trace
  • flights booked using a local credit or debit card will leave a trace
  • ditto for hotels, restaurants and any other expenditure
  • your phone carrier will know
  • if they examine your phone there are good chances there will be traces (like Google maps history and tracking)
  • of course all your social media posts

Some of that information may be difficult for them to get. Some maybe extremely easy. Depends on local laws, arrangements in place with airlines, and other companies, whether they can get access to your phone (for completely different reasons of course)… and of course any information you may give them without even realising.

Of course if you manage to have a total blackout on what you did during that time that will look even more suspicious.

So don’t even try. Maybe you’ll get away with it. But if you don’t it can end quite badly.

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    Your bank card(s) leave a good trail of where you've been. Even ATM withdrawals and caxhonly after that leave a trace
    – CSM
    Dec 26, 2021 at 10:27
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    I'm quite surprised that some hotels don't care at all about my ID card in Europe.. Lots of people drive and there are also trains crossing border (even as part of the regional network). Some places still prefer to operate using cash rather than cards. (I can pay my haircut in cash or by cheque, no card!) The phone login is possibly the only factor that isn't easily influenced, but being close to the border you might start roaming by accident...
    – DetlevCM
    Dec 26, 2021 at 15:02
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    You can literally walk from one Schengen country to the next one without leaving a trace, and carriers get confused all the time near the border so that's not a good indication either. Dec 26, 2021 at 21:05
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    @DiegoSánchez that's exactly what I thought you meant. I too live near an international border. There may be situations where mobile device data leave some ambiguity about which country the device is in, but the trip contemplated in this question is not among them.
    – phoog
    Dec 27, 2021 at 11:59
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    @DiegoSánchez what phoog meant is that it will then be possible to detect that you only pinged cells on the border, so it would be uncertain whether you actually crossed the border or not. If you ping repeatedly cells dozens or hundreds of km of the border there’s no doubt. I added the “repeatedly” because when you fly you can ping cells in countries you fly over (if you forgot to switch on airplane mode).
    – jcaron
    Dec 27, 2021 at 12:01
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TL;DR: The government may not know outright, but they may find out if they have any reason to look into you.


Officially there may not be a way for them to know when you land, if your passport isn't being scanned anywhere.

However, if you cause an infection outbreak and the epidemiological investigation concludes that you're the source and that you've lied/concealed information on the entry forms - you may be subject to some heavy penalties of which 5000ILS fine would only be the beginning, since technically you'd be committing a crime (things have happened before).


Since someone asked for statistics in the comments, here are some:

  • According to the State Comptroller of Israel, in about 50% cases the source of the outbreak is identified (i.e.: they find the person who contracted the disease first).
  • The Ministry of Health publishes weekly reports on the epidemiological investigations, which may be very detailed. Note that the actual investigation is conducted by the local authorities and the military (פיקוד העורף), with some help from the police and the internal security (שב"כ). You don't want to mess with them.
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  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – JonathanReez
    Dec 28, 2021 at 4:38
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Some countries share information (see the Five Eyes agreement) for example. It's not universal though. However, my mother was stopped in Singapore years ago (late 90s) and the officials were able to pull up her recent travel history on their system - NZ, Aus and South Africa.

I'd presume it's gotten better since, but for example, many visitors to Israel don't get a stamp so that they can travel to say, Dubai later on the same passport without issues.

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    This does not work with intra Schengen travel as that is not recorded anywhere.
    – Willeke
    Dec 26, 2021 at 6:40
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    Well, the "Five Eyes" share intelligence which is not typically shared with ordinary agencies, unless there is a security threat. Yes, it is reasonable to assume that the NSA has all your emails and all phone metadata. It is also reasonable to assume that they scan and possibly store your phone calls proper, and that they are privy to all credit card transactions and any other electronic trace you may leave. That does not mean though that the immigration officer knows about it unless you are a person of interest. Dec 27, 2021 at 5:38
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In practice, our advise on Travel.SE is to just follow the law, no matter how silly or illogical the law is. The reason is that doing otherwise means you're trading a very small upside (skipping a bit of quarantine) for a massive downside (big fines, potential criminal record, social shaming, etc). No one can give you exact percentage odds of getting caught but at the end of the day its easier to just cancel your travel or do the quarantine instead.

That being said, lets think of how the government could find out.

  1. They could use fancy Mossad databases to track down your movements, though the odds of this are basically nil unless you're a major person of interest.
  2. They might do a successful contact tracing and figure out that you've started a chain of Omicron cases, but given the ongoing explosion of Omicron cases in Israel the odds of this are basically nil too.
  3. They could ask the Interpol or some other international partner and track down your movements down to a minute, but again - this is insanely unlikely for 99.9% of the population.

So how will you most likely get caught? Same way a huge chunk of crimes has been caught since the dawn of time - by having someone report you to the police. An angry ex-girlfriend, a random Instagram subscriber, a disgruntled business partner, a nosy neighbor - anyone could notice you've been to country X but then never reported to quarantine. The police might not necessarily investigate the report but if they do, you'll be in a world of trouble.

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  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Rory Alsop
    Dec 28, 2021 at 23:47
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Is there any possible way for Israeli authorities to know I've been to the second country.

Yes. They can ask you where you've been.

They have other ways, mentioned in other answers, but asking you where you have been is much more likely to happen than those other ways.

I don't know what the consequences for you are if:

  • You lie and they find out.
  • You lie, they find you've lied, and they find out you haven't respected quarantine requirements.
  • You lie, they find you've lied, they find out you haven't respected quarantine requirements, and they find out you've brought the next new variant into the country.

Please don't lie.

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