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I hold a US passport. If I enter and stay in a Schengen country for more than 3 months, i.e. if I overstay my Schengen visa by 6 months or more, and then wish to travel to and enter another Schengen country by rail or ship, will I be barred from entering, or made to pay a fine before entering? What possible penalties would I face?

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  • Offences are regulated at national level. Countries have to be specified. The consequences depending on which country's territories you have illegally stayed and which country is taking the action against you (usually it is the country you are leaving or entering whose border guards are controlling your entry).
    – xngtng
    Commented Jan 23, 2023 at 13:51
  • By ‘visa’ do you mean entering as a tourist (visa-free) or with an actual visa? This question relates to a visa but the answers are relevant to overstays by non-visa nationals too travel.stackexchange.com/questions/13482/…
    – Traveller
    Commented Jan 23, 2023 at 14:11
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    So many misconceptions in one sentance, one really doesn't know where to start. US citizens do not require a visa to enter the Schengen Area, they recieve an entry stamp that allows them to stay for 90 days within a 180 day period in the 27 countries that form the Schengen Area. If caught anywhere within the Schengen Area, while having overstayed for 6 months, they could be fined, deported and recieve a ban. Commented Jan 23, 2023 at 15:03

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As noted in the comments, the specifics depend on where you're found, because the penalties are defined in national law. That said, some general statements are possible that you may find useful.

  • if you are found in the Schengen area having been there for six or more months you will very likely be required to leave.

  • you may be allowed to leave on your own, being given a short time to arrange this, maybe a couple of days or if you're lucky a week or two. Otherwise you'd be detained and forcibly deported.

  • you would likely be fined. I have little idea how much, but I'd guess somewhere between several hundred euros and a few thousand euros.

  • you would likely be banned from returning to the Schengen area for some length of time. The ban should not be for longer than 5 years unless you are found to be a "serious threat."

  • you are unlikely to be discovered while crossing internal Schengen borders, but it's possible. It's also possible to be discovered by any police officer anywhere (if the conditions exist under national law for the the police officer to verify your immigration status).

  • if you are not discovered inside the Schengen area you will almost certainly be discovered as you leave. In this case you would probably be allowed to continue to leave, but you would still likely be fined and banned. This would take some time, so be sure to get to the airport a few hours early so you don't miss your flight.

Some Schengen countries readily grant national visas for extended stay as a tourist. Applying for such a visa is probably a much better way to go if you want to spend several months in the Schengen area and you can arrange your plans to be based in one of those countries. Otherwise, you may want to plan to spend two periods of just under 90 days separated by at least 90 days (a pattern that you can repeat indefinitely).

Another thing to consider is whether your presence in any Schengen country causes you to become a tax resident under that country's law. In many countries, this happens after 183 days regardless of your immigration status.

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    I recall seeing a claim on this site before, that under a grandfathered pre-schengen agreement americans can stay in poland for up to 90 days, regardless of previous stays in other Schengen countries. Commented Jan 23, 2023 at 21:51
  • @PeterGreen good point, and there are a few other countries for which that is true. I'll edit the answer.
    – phoog
    Commented Jan 23, 2023 at 21:56
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    In Germany, US citizens can apply for a visa after entry (unlike most other nationalities). But they'd have to do that, not just stay. And then they'd be bound to the modified 90/180 rule for national visa holders.
    – o.m.
    Commented Jan 24, 2023 at 5:39
  • @o.m. Even if US citizens can apply for a German national long-stay visa after entry, they have to fulfill the same conditions to obtain a visa as other citizens. You are not likely to get a long-stay visa for extended tourism even if you are allowed to apply for one. Commented Jan 25, 2023 at 12:48
  • @Tor-EinarJarnbjo I don't think a long stay visa for extended tourism exists in Germany, in which case you certainly would not get one or even be allowed to apply.
    – phoog
    Commented Jun 11 at 8:27

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