I am from Southern Bulgaria and want to ride my motorcycle into Northern Greece, but the official crossing point is too far away from me. Can I just ride through the forest on dirt roads and cross the border like that? Greece is in Schengen, Bulgaria is in EU and in Schengen by air and sea, but not by land (weird!). In addition I hold a Swedish passport which makes me a citizen of a Schengen country.

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    There are a number of places which can easily be crossed with an enduro bike near me, and it is in the mountains between Gotse Delchev and Dospat Feb 15 at 16:42
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    Not legal advice: being EU citizen, even at official border crossing, you don't get any entry/exit stamps. Meaning there's no way for them to know if you left or entered. At land border crossings with Hungary and Romania in my case they just looked at the document and let me go, not even recording the event. So you could go through the forest, be sure to have your ID (or passport) with you, and in case police stop you, you can just say that you were just riding around and didn't know you crossed the border. In that case they either send you back or let you proceed (my guess)
    – Marcus
    Feb 16 at 6:47
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    I would think there is a chance that you would meet human smugglers and refugees there.
    – gerrit
    Feb 16 at 10:29
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    @gerrit that's a good point, might be more dangerous than encountering the police
    – Marcus
    Feb 16 at 13:14
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    When my folks were in Germany, they went for a drive on some back roads and accidentally crossed the border into France without realizing it. Apparently, they wandered back and forth several times! One time, they did get stopped in France and were asked to show ID. IIRC, neither had a passport, but my dad did have his US military ID. The Gendarmerie turned them around and sent them back to Germany. Of course, this was in the late 60s, so probably not applicable today...
    – FreeMan
    Feb 16 at 17:15

1 Answer 1


Actually Bulgaria is not even in Schengen by air or sea yet, that starts on March 31 (2024).

At this time, you would be crossing an external Schengen border, and you are only allowed to do that at an official border crossing.

It's not yet clear to me what will happen from March 31 for land crossings, but I expect the situation to be much of the same until Bulgaria is "full" Schengen.

For reference, the Schengen Borders Code's article 5 says:

  1. External borders may be crossed only at border crossing points and during the fixed opening hours. The opening hours shall be clearly indicated at border crossing points which are not open 24 hours a day.

    Member States shall notify the list of their border crossing points to the Commission in accordance with Article 39.

  2. By way of derogation from paragraph 1, exceptions to the obligation to cross external borders only at border crossing points and during fixed opening hours may be allowed:

    (a) for individuals or groups of persons, where there is a requirement of a special nature for the occasional crossing of external borders outside border crossing points or outside fixed opening hours, provided that they are in possession of the permits required by national law and that there is no conflict with the interests of public policy and the internal security of the Member States. Member States may make specific arrangements in bilateral agreements. General exceptions provided for by national law and bilateral agreements shall be notified to the Commission pursuant to Article 39;

    (b) for individuals or groups of persons in the event of an unforeseen emergency situation;

    (c) in accordance with the specific rules set out in Articles 19 and 20 in conjunction with Annexes VI and VII.

  3. Without prejudice to the exceptions provided for in paragraph 2 or to their international protection obligations, Member States shall introduce penalties, in accordance with their national law, for the unauthorised crossing of external borders at places other than border crossing points or at times other than the fixed opening hours. Those penalties shall be effective, proportionate and dissuasive.

(emphasis mine)

I don't see any specific exceptions that would apply to your situation as long as it is considered an external border. I haven't found any exception per 2(a) in the article 39 notifications listed here but I haven't quite gone through it extensively.

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    @GladiusThrax I have no idea as to the innocence of your behavior, but then again neither do the authorities that would question why someone would want to avoid an official crossing point. /s
    – Peter M
    Feb 15 at 16:23
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    If l use the crossing point l need to ride for 2 hours to get to where l want. On logging roads through the forrest it would take me 15 minutes. Feb 15 at 16:45
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    @GladiusThrax Ask yourself what types of people could want to avoid official checkpoints?
    – Peter M
    Feb 15 at 18:35
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    @PeterM all reasonable people, if they can get away with it, especially ones who value their time :)
    – hobbs
    Feb 16 at 5:28
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    @GladiusThrax Could one argue that you WL crossed the border by air if you make a jump with enough airtime? /s Feb 16 at 12:46

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