Overstaying in Schengen

After I left Ireland I did a amazing trip mostly around Eastern Europe and as I have a Taiwanese passport, I could stay 90 days around Schengen area for a period of 180 days. I’m not sure about other countries but Taiwan has a agreement with Austria allowing us to extend our stay up to 6 months applying for a Working Holiday Visa. Since I only found tickets back to Brazil on January I’ve decided to apply for it.

Applying for a Working Holiday Visa

I honestly don’t know what happened but I did a terrible mistake to leave everything to the last minute! After finding out that I could only apply for the visa outside Austria, I had to go to Bratislava, the closest city with an Austrian embassy. Because of the weekend, I went on a Tuesday, my last day legal inside Schengen.

I went super cheerful, singing Ed Sheeran while playing around with the leaves on the floor and flirting with a super cute Slovakian officer.

But, when I got there, surprise!!!! I was already 4 days illegal so I couldn’t apply for it. They said I should leave as soon as possible from Schengen and that they should even call the police to report there was someone illegal at the embassy! 😱😭 I had a whole day in Bratislava planned ahead and I was illegal now! Already for 4 days! I went back to Vienna straight to the Taiwanese embassy but the advice was the same, that I should leave as soon as possible.

We looked for all kinds of possibilities like applying for the visa in London, but it’d be extremely likely that I’d get a fine or be banned from Schengen for a while so I just gave up and started planning my trip back to Ireland, since my flight to Brazil was leaving from Dublin. All the tickets were super expensive so I bought one after almost a month… knowing that I’ll end up staying illegal for this whole time in Vienna! 😱


What happens when you overstay

I’ve heard of people being illegal only for couple of days and getting fines from €300 to €2.000 and if you don’t pay it they could ban you for 3 to 10 years. There’s no specific rules about how long you overstayed being related with the fine or the period of banning. It depends a lot from the officer checking on you.

My experience was that I left from Bratislava, the officer gave me a big speech about how wrong I was, almost making me cry and making me feel stupid and made me promise it’ll never happen again. I explained everything, showed him all the papers and thankfully he believed in me.

Don’t Ever overstay Schengen

My advice: DON’T EVER OVERSTAY SCHENGEN! Seriously, I was extremely lucky that nothing happened! I was looking for at least €300 fine or 5 years ban, but luckily I got away with no punishment at all. If you end up illegal my recommendation would be trying to have a way to explain what happened, leaving as soon as possible because having overstayed couples of days is way more different than months or years and look for the best countries to leave. I’ve hear that you shouldn’t try to leave from Germany, Netherlands, Greece nor Switzerland. On the other hand Spain, Italy and Portugal could be more relaxed about it and apply a less heavy punishment.

My punishment

Ok, I didn’t got away that easily. I went through a little tiny hell when I arrived in Ireland. To sum up, they were thinking about sending me to London, Germany or back to Brazil. The first officer took my phone, said it wasn’t private for the immigration and asked me to unlock it. Thankfully another officer came to talk to me, who was extremely thoughtful and fair, she let me stay for 5 weeks to get my things straight up in Ireland and probably because I said it was just a week before Christmas she changed her mind again and made me promise that I’ll leave on the day I have my flight back to Brazil. By the time I managed to leave the immigration it was already too late and I had to spend the night at the Dublin airport.

Is volunteering legal?

Quick tip for travelers looking for volunteer jobs in exchange for accommodation: if you don’t have a working visa or a permit allowing you to work somehow in the country you’re going to, avoid to mention it at the immigration. I know that working as volunteers doesn’t involve money, but it’s still work and some countries are really strict about it.

Check all the legal details so you could enjoy more your adventures! Have a safe trip!

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