I will be travelling to Berlin from Canada, connecting outbound in Brussels. After Berlin, I will fly back to Brussels for a few days before returning home.

When landing for the first time in Brussels (for my connection to Berlin) what does the immigration officer expect when they ask how long my stay is?

Is it:

  • The entirety of my stay within the Schengen Area regardless of my travel within?
  • Specific details of my itinerary, including my first connection to BER, my subsequent return to BRU and short stay before returning home?

I ask because the last time I visited (2015) I was in a similar situation with Germany, Denmark, and Amsterdam. The immigration officer at AMS seemed frustrated by the overly specific explanation I offered of my itinerary.

We also seemed to have different definitions of what "here" constituted when asked "how long will you be here" (EU/Schengen vs The Netherlands).

  • You could ask the I/O specifically what they want. Nobody here can read the I/O you're going to meets mind. – Augustine of Hippo Apr 18 '17 at 17:39
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    @SheikPaul I had considered that, of course; I'm looking more for the expected custom in this type of situation. But if the answer is as simple as "it depends on the I/O you get" I'll happily accept that. – msanford Apr 18 '17 at 17:57
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    In your specific situation, I think a good answer would be "x days / weeks / months in Berlin and a few days in Brussels on the way back home" which is neither a lengthy, overly specific explanation nor keeping any information from the I/O. Of course this won't work if you're planning to go backpacking across Europe for two months, not staying anywhere longer than four days... – Sabine Apr 18 '17 at 18:16
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    I suspect that they don't want to know how long you'll be in the country, and they don't want to know how long you'll be in the EU. They want to know how long you'll be in the Schengen area. – phoog Apr 18 '17 at 18:28
  • @phoog Quite right. I'll edit my question. But anyone, feel free to post these as responses below. – msanford Apr 18 '17 at 18:44

You're over-thinking this. You're having a conversation with the Immigration Officer. You don't have to anticipate every thing they might want to know and give them all that information the first time you speak. Answer the questions you're asked; if they want to know more, they'll ask you for more.

If they ask you how long your stay is, tell them that you'll be in Belgium for however long it is and then travelling on to Berlin. If they want to know how long you'll be in Berlin, they'll ask you. If they want to know what you're doing after Berlin, they'll ask you.

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