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I'm a US citizen traveling through Europe visa-free. I started my trip in Spain and got an entry stamp there. Later, I took the IDBUS from France to the UK and got an exit stamp from France and an entry stamp from the UK. (They made us all get out and go through two separate passport checkpoints.) Yesterday I took the night IDBUS bus back from the UK to Amsterdam. This time, we didn't have to get off the bus for passport checks: a UK official and a French official got on the bus and quickly checked everyone's passports, but no stamps were given. The last stamp in my passport is now my entry stamp into the UK, even though I'm in the Schengen Area again.

I'm confused: at the very least, shouldn't I have gotten an entry stamp from the French official? Is this common? What does this mean in practice? Will the burden of proof be on me to show that I haven't overstayed my 6-month period in the UK or my 3-month period in the Schengen region whenever I go through another border checkpoint?

  • EU nationals won't receive stamps when travelling between EU countries, just their passport / ID card checking, so it is somewhat of a special case – Gagravarr Aug 29 '14 at 23:33
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Yes, in principle you should have gotten an entry stamp for the Schengen area. It seems the French border guard did not follow the rules. I don't think UK border guards generally put exit stamps in passports, I believe the UK authorities should have gotten a passenger list from IDBUS so you should be fine as far as the UK is concerned.

As far as Schengen rules are concerned the burden of proof will indeed be on you and you could theoretically be treated as an overstayer if you cannot show a recent Schengen entry stamp, as set in article 11 of the Schengen Borders Code:

Presumption as regards fulfilment of conditions of duration of stay

  1. If the travel document of a third-country national does not bear an entry stamp, the competent national authorities may presume that the holder does not fulfil, or no longer fulfils, the conditions of duration of stay applicable within the Member State concerned.

  2. The presumption referred to in paragraph 1 may be rebutted where the third-country national provides, by any means, credible evidence, such as transport tickets or proof of his or her presence outside the territory of the Member States, that he or she has respected the conditions relating to the duration of a short stay.

The previous exit stamp and UK entry stamp will at least show you haven't been in the Schengen area all the time since your last entry stamp but it would still be best to keep your IDBUS ticket to document the date you reentered the Schengen area, at least until the next time you exit it and probably for a few years after that. This is especially important if you are playing it close and want to stay several weeks (if you are leaving within a few days of your first entry, it does not matter at all as you would not exceed the maximum allowed stay either way).

  • The API (Advance Passenger Information) provided to the Home Office/UK Border Force by the transportation provider merely indicates who might be travelling on that service; it does not confirm who actually travelled and therefore would not be definitive proof that an individual exited the UK. One might however have been able to point to a French entry stamp (had one been given) to support the fact that one had exited the UK within the requisite timeframe. – eggyal Apr 15 '18 at 7:18
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    @eggyal Yet that's what the UK relies on. Incidentally, “definitive” proof is not always needed, as the quote from the Schengen Borders Code shows. – Relaxed Apr 16 '18 at 6:01
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To answer my own question: when I was crossing the border from Slovenia to Croatia, the border officer asked me about the lack of an entry stamp into the Schengen Area. I showed him my chewed-up IDBUS ticket and explained that, apparently, the French border control sometimes didn't stamp passports coming from the UK. He asked me why; I said that I didn't know, and that other travelers had the same story. He shrugged, gave me a stamp, and sent me on my way.

So my experience so far is that it's not a huge problem, but might require a bit of explanation + evidence.

  • I think you mean "...about the lack of an entry stamp into the Schengen area." – phoog Dec 28 '15 at 19:27
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In my experience as a French national, our border control officers often forget to apply entry or exit stamps. They're police officers who can't be bothered to do the servile bureaucrat job of applying stamps. I have seen them lecture people for missing entry stamps that they had themselves failed to apply, at the same airport three weeks earlier. Their answer was "You should have asked for it".

So I guess that's the answer : you've got to ask for the stamp any time you leave or enter the Schengen area through France. The word for stamp in French, funnily enough, is "tampon".

I think there are no exit stamps in the UK for scheduled transportation, as in the US.

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