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I have an one-way ticket to enter the Schengen area and now I am trying to purchase an exit ticket. My entry date is scheduled to be January 18, 2017. So it is April 18, 2017 that sets the deadline of my departure.

However, the price of the ticket is cheaper on April 19 than on April 18. So I would like to purchase the cheaper ticket if at all possible.

That's why now I wonder how the date of entry and exit is decided. The potential point would be something among this:

  • The original departure date of the flight
  • When you check in at the airline counter
  • When you pass through the immigration, where you get a stamp on your passport
  • The actual departure date of the flight (I mean it is possible for the flight to be delayed and leap over 24:00)

I guess entry and exit count when passing immigration. In this case, can I get through the immigration at April 18 and wait for the next day's flight by just sitting on the waiting lobby?

So to make my question clear:

  • How is the date of entry and exit decided?

  • Is there any way to get on the April 19 flight without invoking the rule?

  • Is the calculation consistent among other, non-Schengen countries?

  • You can't do that, they won't let you pass only 2-3 hours before departure. It happened to me, I had to pay a fine at the immigration. – Petrica Dec 30 '16 at 19:43
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I guess it is at the point of the immigration that decides the entry and exit date.

Correct.

If that is true, can I get through the immigration at April 18 and wait for the next day's flight by just sitting on the waiting lobby?

phoog above answered about your date (mis)calculation, so let's address the "can I get through immigration a day before?" issue here.

This depends on a number of things (airline and departure airport). For example:

  • Would you be able to check in online and get a boarding pass? Not all airlines allow this for all passengers, and not all airlines issue you a boarding pass after you check in online (sometime you get a "this-is-not-a-boarding-pass" card and have to go to check-in booth). Without a boarding pass you will not clear immigration.

  • Is the airport gate area open during nighttime? Many smaller airports in Europe are closed sometimes between 1-5AM, and will not let you through immigration/security if it is clear you won't leave before it is closed. Sometime you can stay in the airport building itself (usually in the checkin area), but it will be before immigration.

  • Will the security let you through when your flight is departing, say, in 10 hours? My personal experience in such case been mixed - again, in a large airport this is usually not an issue (just tell them you'll hang out in the airline lounge), but in Athens they didn't let me through until the flight was open to check-in, as they were concerned the flight would cancel.

One thing to consider is what are you going to do if your flight is canceled? The airline could rebook you on a next flight, but it could be departing in two days. Are you going to stay those days at the airport?

  • Thanks for the informative answer. Well, now the biggest concern for me is that an airline doesn't allow me to check-in at its counter at all, depending on the time of the flight, since it usually starts to open the counter only 4 hours or so before the departure. My original flight, which I should avoid now due to the miscalculation, was AM 00:05, so that wouldn't be a problem, though... – Blaszard Dec 29 '16 at 3:54
  • In addition, even if you could check in online and get a boarding pass you might not be able to check your luggage if the flight is not scheduled for departure within a reasonable time. Thus it will not be possible to pass through security if you carry luggage that needs checking. And - technically - there is no immigration on an outbound flight, if anything it's exit border control. – Ghanima Dec 29 '16 at 12:54
  • The key point here is that you should not never, ever book a flight for your last day. If the flight is cancelled or delayed, nobody will care. 'My flight has been cancelled' is not an excuse for extending the visa. Plan to leave a couple of days before and be on the safe side. – Vladimir Cravero Dec 29 '16 at 13:42
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    @VladimirCravero: Actually "last minute change of flight schedule by airline (e.g. due to weather conditions, strike)" is explicitly recognized as force majeure that warrants extension of a Schengen visa. See p 99f of ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/sites/homeaffairs/files/policies/… – Henning Makholm Dec 29 '16 at 14:47
  • @HenningMakholm Your interpretation seems a bit generous, the examples are not random, weather events or strike can be construed as force majeure, it's not obvious to me that this means that any flight cancellation would qualify. And the handbook is not binding. That's however moot in this case, the OP does not have a visa and was contemplating staying longer than 90 days, neither of which a visa extension is intended to cover. – Relaxed Dec 30 '16 at 22:56
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You have either misunderstood or miscalculated. If you enter on January 18th, you must leave before midnight on April 17th.

You are correct that the time of passing immigration is what matters (for that is the time that determines which date will be stamped into your passport).

Both the day of entry and the day of exit count, so if you enter at 23:55 and stay for ten minutes, that counts as two days. So, if you enter on January 18th, you have 14 days in January, plus 28 in February and 31 in March. That's a total of 73 days, leaving you with just 17 in April.

  • Sorry for that it is the miscalculation. I just added 90 days in Python but it was the wrong way to calculate. Thanks for the catch. But let me keep the question as a general one. – Blaszard Dec 29 '16 at 3:39
  • In Python you need to use "end-start +1" formula :) a difference between Jan 13 and Jan 13 is zero, but you'd still use one day if you enter and exit on the same date. – George Y. Dec 29 '16 at 3:42
  • @GeorgeY. I just used datetime package with datetime.date(2017,1,18) + datetime.timedelta(90) without caring about the start day... – Blaszard Dec 29 '16 at 3:43
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    @Blaszard you should also be aware that you can only spend the full 90 days in the Schengen area if you haven't already used up some of your days in the period before your January entry. If you were in the Schengen area at all since late October, those days will count. – phoog Dec 29 '16 at 3:44
  • @phoog Right, I'm aware of it and this is my first trip ever to Europe. – Blaszard Dec 29 '16 at 3:46
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Just another suggestion. You'll be in Europe for 3 months, why not visit somewhere outside of the Schengen zone during that time? For example, take a weekend away in Andorra, Monaco, Serbia, Bosnia. Europe is so small, even Morocco is only a couple of hours away. The rule says you can't overstay 90 days in any 180 day period, but if you spend a couple of days outside of the Schengen region, then you haven't actually broken the rules - and you can keep those flight dates already mentioned.

I would not try to play dumb or take any chances with immigration officials at airports, those people can be extremely mean. It's a gamble whether you'll be lucky or unlucky, and ignorance is no excuse. Make sure you get the stamps so you can prove you didn't overstay the 90 days; you want to do things by the book so that it's not possible for immigration to make any case against you at the border. Your trip will be less stressful this way too, you can travel with some peace of mind knowing you're not bending the rules.

  • I don't believe that the microstates of Andorra and Monaco count for suspending the Schengen count, even though they are technically outside Schengen. Nor San Marino and Vatican City. Serbia and Bosnia would; I'd also mention Croatia as a good place for a few days. – Andrew Lazarus Dec 29 '16 at 21:59
  • @AndrewLazarus Andorra has a border where you get a stamp, so it does count, as far as I understand, at least; I've never been. Monaco, no. I have been there, and the border is completely open. I doubt it would be possible to suspend the Schengen clock by going there. – phoog Dec 30 '16 at 0:16
  • This strategy does sound great, but it requires OP having a double-entry visa, doesn’t it? – Jan Dec 30 '16 at 0:20
  • Most travelers don't need a visa for entry to Schengen region (or rather, it's just a visa on arrival). I've an Australian passport and done it dozens of times - the only port where I've ever had any problems was at Heathrow in UK. The OP didn't state their citizenship but unless they're on this list I doubt there is any weird visa requirement. – wim Dec 30 '16 at 0:30
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    @AndrewLazarus The Vatican certainly wouldn't, since there are no border controls between Italy and there, so you couldn't prove to anyone's satisfaction that you'd even been there. – David Richerby Dec 30 '16 at 20:41
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The answers seem to focus on whether you'll be overstaying your visa with the later flight, but I'd worry more about whether you'd even be let in. If your exit ticket is outside your visit allowance, you're counting on the generosity of the immigration official. That's not a phrase that shows up on lists of good travel advice.

If you're willing to take chances on overstaying by a day (or two, as explained above), how about buying the cheap ticket for the 19th, AND a full-price one for the 17th which (you will need to be certain) can be cancelled for full refund. Show the one for the 17th when you enter the country, waltz in, cancel it by web or phone, and don't draw attention to yourself for the last two days of your stay.

You should carry the paper ticket for the 17th on you. If pressed, you could even show up at the airport on the 17th and be suitably shocked to find that you'd been mysteriously cancelled, but delighted that you have somehow gotten booked only two days later.

You probably don't want any paper evidence of the later flight on you when you enter.

Let's make it clear: you're playing with fire, any way you play it. If it works you'll have a good story.

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    This is really the critical point. – phoog Dec 30 '16 at 0:18
  • I might not follow you, but isn't it unnecessary to have an onward ticket (17th one) to enter the country...? – Blaszard Dec 31 '16 at 12:58

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