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Old 23-06-2016, 03:42   #1
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Officials tracking Schengen time

We are US citizens in Europe and really trying to stay legal with the current limitation of "90 days out of any 180 day period" while in Schengen countries. We have our passports stamped when we enter and leave, so that is our ultimate record of how many days we have been in these countries.

Here is my question - I thought that our time in Schengen countries was tracked electronically each time the immigration officials scanned our passport. I have heard of folks being caught at the airport when leaving the Schengen zone to fly back to the US. This has been flagged when they scan the passport at the airport. I do know that the last time I flew out of Lisbon, the official scanned my passport and told me how many days I had been there. He did not thumb through all of those stamped pages to try and count them.

To confuse things, we just returned to Lisbon after a month in Ireland and the UK (lovely places!). Our goal was to get outside Schengen and save some time for cruising the Med. We flew back to Lisbon via Madrid, and our passport was stamped in Madrid as entering. However, the official did not scan our passport. It was scanned in London and Ireland, however.

So, am I incorrect in my thoughts that we are being tracked electronically for our time spent in the Schengen countries? Are the stamps on the passport the only thing that officials go by?

Cheers!

Steve
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Old 23-06-2016, 05:25   #2
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Re: Officials tracking Schengen time

Yes, particularly if you go in and out of airports, they know exactly how much time you have been in the area.


Keep in mind, they have access to the airline manifests, so even if you don't see it scanned, they can get access to that information.
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Old 23-06-2016, 05:52   #3
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Re: Officials tracking Schengen time

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Originally Posted by valhalla360 View Post
Yes, particularly if you go in and out of airports, they know exactly how much time you have been in the area.


Keep in mind, they have access to the airline manifests, so even if you don't see it scanned, they can get access to that information.
Thanks, I was wondering if that figured into the equation.

So electronically, somewhere there is a digital running record of when I left Ireland since they scanned my passport in Dublin. Then it somehow connects the dots that I flew to Madrid, so the clock restarts on the day of the flight.

When we leave by sea, I will find out if the SEF here in Portugal only stamps the passport or if they also scan it.

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Old 23-06-2016, 05:56   #4
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Re: Officials tracking Schengen time

Entering or leaving by sea is the only iffy part. In principal it should get into the system but unlike major boarder crossing points (car or air), they may rely on a guy typing it into the system later, which may or may not happen.
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Old 23-06-2016, 10:19   #5
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Re: Officials tracking Schengen time

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Originally Posted by steve77 View Post
Thanks, I was wondering if that figured into the equation.

So electronically, somewhere there is a digital running record of when I left Ireland since they scanned my passport in Dublin. Then it somehow connects the dots that I flew to Madrid, so the clock restarts on the day of the flight.

When we leave by sea, I will find out if the SEF here in Portugal only stamps the passport or if they also scan it.

Steve
The new passports with chips automatically enter you into whatever data bases each government wishes to check with. It also logs you in and out as you pass through any passport controlled borders. Coming down the line is a program to place active location chips that will track the passport's actual location. There is a program to place chips(like dogs have) into the skin of troops that becomes an electronic dog tag, tracking device, and vital signs monitor. Not sure how much it's been implemented yet. Down the line probably may expand to the civilian population.
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Old 23-06-2016, 10:21   #6
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Re: Officials tracking Schengen time

Depends on national character. I was living in Italy for 8 years ( legally). In Italy they never scanned my passport . The just find empty page and stamp it. When flying via Rome in peak season Italians even did not stamp it - open and close. (Surprisingly same happened in Denmark. Probably because Danish trust you.) Never scanned passport in Paris.
In Germany and Switzerland - always ask questions and scan passports.

Of course they have way to find out how much time you spent in Schengen zone even your passport has not been scanned but it takes a little bit longer.
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Old 23-06-2016, 10:21   #7
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Re: Officials tracking Schengen time

I'm very interested in this thread as we've been confused by how it is tracked as well. We actually got one year French tourist visas, but not once did we have to show them at the airport to fly home after being in Europe for a year. Would love to hear from anyone who did have an issue (not an issue that you heard someone else had, but first hand accounts). How exactly did it happen?
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Old 23-06-2016, 10:40   #8
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Re: Officials tracking Schengen time

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Depends on national character. I was living in Italy for 8 years ( legally). In Italy they never scanned my passport . The just find empty page and stamp it. When flying via Rome in peak season Italians even did not stamp it - open and close. (Surprisingly same happened in Denmark. Probably because Danish trust you.) Never scanned passport in Paris.
In Germany and Switzerland - always ask questions and scan passports.

Of course they have way to find out how much time you spent in Schengen zone even your passport has not been scanned but it takes a little bit longer.
How long ago are you talking? 20yrs ago the Schengen was mostly an idea and each country largely did their own thing. You could pop across a boarder for the day and reset the clock. It's been tightened up a lot and I suspect with the recent immigration issues, they will track it more closely in the future.

Last winter, we were flying back from India to Spain to stay on the boat for a while and the airline wouldn't check us in until we could prove we had a flight outbound from the Schengen that was prior to running out on the 90 days. This was the airline checking but I believe they are held responsible if they bring someone in that doesn't meet the requirements and they would have had to ship us out if immigration didn't let us in.
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Old 23-06-2016, 12:25   #9
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Re: Officials tracking Schengen time

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
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Old 23-06-2016, 13:00   #10
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Re: Officials tracking Schengen time

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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.

See: http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs..._system_en.pdf

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 and Poland 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.
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Old 24-06-2016, 15:21   #11
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Re: Officials tracking Schengen time

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How long ago are you talking? 20yrs ago the Schengen was mostly an idea and each country largely did their own thing. You could pop across a boarder for the day and reset the clock. It's been tightened up a lot and I suspect with the recent immigration issues, they will track it more closely in the future.

Last winter, we were flying back from India to Spain to stay on the boat for a while and the airline wouldn't check us in until we could prove we had a flight outbound from the Schengen that was prior to running out on the 90 days. This was the airline checking but I believe they are held responsible if they bring someone in that doesn't meet the requirements and they would have had to ship us out if immigration didn't let us in.
I finish my Italian assignment last year( 2015). As I mentioned above - it depends on the country - there is no uniform procedure among the different countries. from my experience France, Italy , Denmark - fairly loose. UK, Germany, Switzerland - are being difficult.
I guess the whole idea is to prevent illegals from staying for too long and taking up the jobs and not paying the taxes etc. In general some countries do not expect US citizens to take up lower level job illegally, and if they overstay then it is even better since country benefits from it financially. So they kind of look the other way. Also I noticed that Italians have favorable view toward Americans due to close family ties etc.
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Old 24-06-2016, 16:31   #12
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Re: Officials tracking Schengen time

You are being tracked. No worries.

At times people are asked to leave now. More likely in countries that have stronger work ethics and less chaos. You may get some slack in countries of eternal siesta.

Do not take any chances though.

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Old 25-06-2016, 07:49   #13
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Re: Officials tracking Schengen time

We've been traveling and haven't had any issues. Sounds like others on this thread haven't had any issues either. Others in this thread are under the impression that they are tracking it, but has anyone out there had an issue themselves? If so how did it happen?

Everything I have heard is second or third hand about a friend who knew a guy, etc.
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Old 25-06-2016, 10:20   #14
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Re: Officials tracking Schengen time

I forgot,
it is also possible to get a second passport from American consulate abroad. I always had second passport. It is valid for two years. When it expires I would get another one. I think I had at least 3 second passports. On one trip I used one passport and on a another trip I would use another passport. I stayed legally in Italy and I payed taxes and did it more for tax purposes than overstaying. It also saved pages in main passport. Definitely works if immigration officers go by stamps in the passport.

Who knows if in Europe tracking systems set up for multiple passports or not though I know that britts are allowed to have multiple passports and even more than two.
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