Originally Posted by estarzinger
5 years ago I spent a year solid in Europe - mostly in southern France, but many trips to Holland
and Italy and Switzerland and a couple to UK. It seemed pretty clear at that time there was not any effective Schengen tracking. I believe the only place anyone even looked at my passport was when I went to UK. I never got any stamps. When I left France to come back to USA (by airplane) there was no word at all about having over-stayed in Schengen.
Could well have changed in past 5 years. But that was my experience. And I honestly find it a bit hard to believe that that collection of countries could really effectively cooperate on maintaining an accurate database
Correct. There are common databases concerning visa alerts and visa information ("SIS" and "VIS"), but the centralized database for entries and exits, which is called "EES", is still just a proposal.
This will require implementation of the Smart Borders system, so huge re-equipping of border points. I'm sure it will happen some day, but it will take years.
Meanwhile, different Schengen countries have very different systems and varying degrees of control, and the stamp in your passport is the only legal
proof of entries and exits. That means that you have to be sure to get your passport stamped when you cross borders in your boat. This can be a huge challenge in some places -- but don't blow it off, even if the border guards tell you to!
I fly in and out of the EU on business almost every week (and for the last 25 years) so I have a LOT of experience with this. Checking for compliance with the 180 out of 365 rule
is sporadic and unpredictable. Mostly no one pays any attention to it, but sometimes they do, and generally the way they check is first to ask you, then they will count the stamps in your passport.
Recently airline agents have started to ask me about time in the EU in the last 180 days, prior to boarding a flight to the EU. This must be a new system. I'm not sure what the consequences would be, if they identified you as being out of time, or whether they would actually count your stamps.
One last thing about this -- it has been discussed before, and the facts can be found in the archives
here, that several EU countries do not enforce the 180/365 with respect to citizens of certain states, like especially Australia
and New Zealand
, but in some cases also the U.S. and Canada
. There are bilateral visa waiver treaties which predate Schengen and are still in effect. In some cases what this means is that these countries don't count time you've spent in other Schengen countries, towards your allowance of time in their country. Netherlands
are two such cases; France may be; the Nordic
countries count as one country under this system, and welcome you any time for 90 days even if you've been in other Schengen countries prior to that.
It's very complicated and naturally you should do your own research
I spend much of my time in Europe in the UK, where my boat is based 8 months out of the year, and the UK is much more welcoming and flexible than Schengen, allowing U.S. citizens 180 days pretty much every time they enter, subject to anti-abuse rules. The UK even gave me a magic blue card which allows me to use the UK Citizen passport lanes with the automatic gates, so I don't even have to talk to a border guard. God save the Queen!
For Schengen, I managed to get a residence permit
in a Schengen country where I have a project
So I'm pretty much good to go in Europe, but since I don't intend to ever return to the U.S., I would much prefer to have some European passport. To get that, I will have to start paying taxes
in some European country, something I have been reluctant to do, but probably I will need to bite the bullet and do it.