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Is there a minimum amount of time I must spend in a country ?

Is this country dependent? Or I can just enter a country and then exit immediately in 15 minutes or so?

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    I have attended meetings in NYC where I had to return the same day; nobody ever batted an eyelash. Also mixed nationality couples who are building up cohab in the UK will channel hop. It takes longer than 15 minutes, but certainly within the hour. – Gayot Fow Dec 21 '15 at 11:33
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    Might get better answers if you outlined why you want to do this and where – WW. Dec 21 '15 at 11:43
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    Indeed country dependent, I've walked around Norwegian-Swedish border cairns where I certainly spent less than 10 seconds in either country before moving into the next. – gerrit Dec 21 '15 at 12:06
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    Are you asking this to "reset" your visa? If you have a right of 90 days visits, some countries won't let you get away with this trick, and deny re-entry. – Quora Feans Dec 21 '15 at 14:34
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    There's a restaurant which straddles the Belgian/Dutch border. I would imagine the waiter there regularly spends seconds in each country. – the other one Nov 4 '16 at 12:38

13 Answers 13

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It may lead to additional questioning, but provided you have the appropriate visas / right to access in both countries, there's no theoretical reason you can't.

It's very common at Victoria Falls, where people hop back and forth between Zimbabwe and Zambia on the bridge at the border crossing for photo opportunities, or to get to the bungy jump in the middle of the bridge.

I've spent less than a couple of hours in Paraguay, and less than that in Brazil twice (getting to a border town there from Argentina).

I've walked across to the US from Canada to get dinner, and then walked back a couple of hours later too (that one raised eyebrows but was fine).

I've also bussed into Mexico merely to fly out to Cuba, and I've spent a couple of hours in Lithuania once between flights.

So it's not uncommon, I've never had problems, and legally there's nothing stopping you, unless your reasons for doing so raise concerns with the border guard / officer.

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    Surprised that the US-Canada one got you raised eyebrows, it appears very common at Niagara Falls. – gerrit Dec 21 '15 at 11:11
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    @gerrit: maybe it was the walking rather than the short stay: if a particular crossing doesn't have many pedestrians and two of them in one day are the same person... – Steve Jessop Dec 21 '15 at 11:22
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    @SteveJessop Still very common at the Niagara Falls border. Perhaps the eyebrows were caused by MarkMayo having been in 500 countries in fifty days ;-) – gerrit Dec 21 '15 at 11:23
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    @gerrit: ah, I didn't realise he did it at Niagara, I figured that different crossings would have different expectations and that what he did was unusual in the place he did it. You can get eyebrows raised walking to dinner in LA, never mind crossing any borders ;-) – Steve Jessop Dec 21 '15 at 12:24
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    @SteveJessop I did it at Vancouver, BC - White Rock? To walk across to Blaine for dinner. Was told it was very, very rare for people to walk. We had a group from work doing it together :) – Mark Mayo Supports Monica Dec 21 '15 at 12:26
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In the Netherlands we have "het Drielandendpunt" (the three-country point). That is where Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands share borders.

You can be in three countries at the same time and nobody cares how many circles you make running around the boundary post.

enter image description here

The green lines are actual country borders.

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    I bet the arguments run wild about whose responsibility it is to maintain that thing. – Lightness Races with Monica Dec 22 '15 at 19:48
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    "dwarfed by mountains in [...] Belgium" - I mentally stumbled once when I read the phrase and a second time when I realized it's meant literally. – rumtscho Dec 23 '15 at 16:03
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    @Panzercrisis This is in the Schengen area, so no border checks today. It may have been different a few decades ago. – tricasse Dec 24 '15 at 1:52
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    @Panzercrisis lol a guard. This is Europe bro. We don't need guards. – Lightness Races with Monica Dec 24 '15 at 13:05
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    "In the Netherlands we have 'het Drielandendpunt'" Surely you only have a third of it! – David Richerby Nov 4 '16 at 12:23
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At several borders there has been a practice called "Visa Run". People would renew their "visa on Arrival" by briefly passing the border to the neighboring country.

Examples are e.g. the Turkish-Greek or Turkish-Bulgarian or the Thailand<-> Cambodia, Malaysia, Laos Borders.

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I do this frequently in Canada. Many Canadian airports have no concept of international transit so when flying from the US to Europe or Asia you need to enter and then immediately leave again.

It's quite inconvenient but also sort of funny: the immigration officer often asks "how long do you plan to stay in Canada?" and I'm always tempted to answer: "only 45 minutes but its going to be a lot longer if you don't hurry up"

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    Transiting most (all?) U.S. airports is like this, too. The percentage of international to international transiting passengers is tiny at most U.S. airports (even the large hubs,) so they optimize the airport layouts for the O&D and domestic connection passengers instead. – reirab Dec 24 '15 at 5:42
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    At American airports (when going elsewhere) I usually answer 'just in transit'. I figure they don't want a literal answer of how many (or rather how few) minutes and seconds I plan to spend in their country. – Spehro Pefhany Dec 24 '15 at 14:01
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The common point in the other responses that's not made explicit, is that it is never a problem to stay for an arbitrary small amount of time in one country. What might give you problems is returning to the country you came from.

Obviously, countries with open borders typically won't mind at all. But, if you're hopping borders for a visa run, laws might be in place that will deny you entry, or might see you be hassled by immigration officials of the country you return to.

So, because different visa rules apply to different people in different countries, leaving some country for a very short amount of time and then returning might be problematic. However, staying in some country for a very short time should never be a problem.

  • Visa runs as such aren't against the law, it's just that needing to do a visa run is highly correlated with illegal activities like working on a tourist visa. – lambshaanxy Dec 23 '15 at 0:10
  • I beg to differ. Europeans, and some others, will not be let in several South American countries if they stayed in the country they are trying to return to, for 90 days or more in the previous six months. I also seem to remember that, at some point at least, Thailand had a restriction on the number of consecutive tourist visas that could be issued to individuals from some western countries. – MastaBaba Dec 23 '15 at 2:51
  • Sure, but the problem in both cases is staying >90 days total in the country. There's nothing in the law stopping you from crossing the border every day during those 90 days if you like. – lambshaanxy Dec 23 '15 at 4:02
  • True. And that is an example of the point I was making. – MastaBaba Dec 23 '15 at 12:43
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I was once in international transit in Germany, and for reasons I do not remember, I needed or wanted to get out to the train station or some other part of the airport. I got lost, so I went through passport control three times instead of once to get out of the international zone. In other words, I entered Germany, exited a couple of minutes later, and then entered again a couple of minutes after that. Then I exited once again a few hours later for my flight. There was no trouble or delay.

8

There is no minimum time you must spend; I know many people that fly Kuwait - Bahrain - Kuwait (just to reset visa time limits).

They spend less than 15 minutes in Bahrain (that is, time spent from when the visa is stamped entry, till exit stamp). They actually spend more time in the lounge than "officially" in the country.

Similarly, I have done a "day run" to Dubai where I fly out and return the same day.

No issues whatsoever.

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I spent 30 minutes in Dubai this year. I went through immigration, out to the mosque in the airport parking lot, found and logged a geocache, and went right back into the airport and through immigration.

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I guess it is dependent on the pair of countries. In most of the European Union there is no border control (most of the times) within the Schengen Area. So you may just go across and back.

4

I would say it is very much dependent on the specific case. Check the border in this question on Stackexchange.

You might get problems if this quick in-and-out looks as if you're trying to exploit a loophole in the law.

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    In that part of the world you will pass into and out of the countries within minutes while walking straight on, in a car it can take seconds. – Willeke Dec 21 '15 at 18:56
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A road runs along a good portion of the border between Brazil and Uruguay and crosses the border many times. It goes through the cities of Rivera and Santana do Livramento where for about ten kilometers, the street is the border. You can cross that street as often and as fast as you want (if drivers don't stop you).

2

Some countries do have different visa requirements for folks who are just passing through (transit visas) versus visas to actually visit the country. Some airports are better than others about handling changing planes without technically leaving the "international" space.

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    Yeah, the airports that handle a lot of international to international connections usually allow you to transit without entering the country. This is especially true at airports like Hong Kong and Incheon, where, if I remember correctly, the entire airside is outside customs (because nearly all of the flights are international. "To mainland China" is, for all practical purposes, international from Hong Kong, even though they're technically the same country now.) – reirab Dec 24 '15 at 5:51
1

For the minimum duration in country (requiring a visa, rather than the many options that do not require a visa, such as The Hotel Arbez) it may be hard to beat the example at Turkish single-entry visa stamped in transit by mistake. Can I still use it to enter Turkey?. OP does not specify the time interval there but by the sounds of it it was a few seconds rather than a few minutes.

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