thelocal.at
We value your privacy
We and our store and/or access information on a device, such as cookies and process personal data, such as unique identifiers and standard information sent by a device for personalised ads and content, ad and content measurement, and audience insights, as well as to develop and improve products.
With your permission we and our partners may use precise geolocation data and identification through device scanning. You may click to consent to our and our partners’ processing as described above. Alternatively you may access more detailed information and change your preferences before consenting or to refuse consenting.
Please note that some processing of your personal data may not require your consent, but you have a right to object to such processing. Your preferences will apply to this website only. You can change your preferences at any time by returning to this site or visit our privacy policy.
TRAVEL NEWS
Passport stamps: What British residents in the EU need to know when crossing borders
British nationals resident in the EU have become concerned in recent months as their passports have been stamped when returning home from abroad. Here's the latest on what we know and a message of reassurance for those travelling.
Published: 13 September 2021 12:26 CEST
Photo by Sem van der Wal / ANP / AFP
Since the end of the Brexit transition period, Brits crossing EU borders have been divided into two groups; those with the right of residency or long-stay visas and visitors.
For visitors, the 90-day rule comes into play, meaning that they can no longer spend more than 90 days out of every 180 in the Schengen zone.
READ ALSO How the 90-day rule works
And border guards can keep track of how long people have spent inside the Bloc by means of scanning passports and stamping them establishes a record of exactly when the person entered the Schengen zone and when they left. 
But for Brits who have the right of residency in an EU country – either through a visa or a residency card – things are different.
If you are a resident in, for example, France any time that you spend there does not count to your 90 day limit (although if you were to enter Spain, Sweden or Italy the 90-day clock would begin ticking).
British residents should therefore not have their passport stamped when they are entering the EU country they live in.
What should you do?
When approaching passport control going either in or out of the country where you live, you should present both your passport and proof of residency – whether this is your visa, residency card or (in some countries) proof that you have applied for residency.
Don’t wait to be asked for this, because at busy borders officers will just presume that anyone presenting only a passport is a tourist.
You might think you only need to present proof of residency when entering the country, but in fact you should show it when leaving as well, as passports are regularly stamped on both exit and entry.
If you are travelling within the Schengen zone it is a lot less likely that documents will be required when crossing the border, but if asked, you should present both your passport and residency document.
What if the official wants to stamp your passport?
Since the end of the Brexit transition period, The Local has received multiple reports of the passports of residents being stamped in error, even after they have pointed out to border staff that this is not necessary.
“I just returned to my residence in Italy today from the UK.  Unfortunately my passport was stamped. I gave my Italian ID card to them but it didn’t make any difference,” one reader told us in an email that echoed the stories of many.
Another said: “My British passport was stamped on returning to Berlin despite me being a resident and asking the border police (in German) not to do so and why.”
The problem of wrongly stamped passports seems to have been most common in January and February 2020, immediately after the transition period, so could have been put down to people getting to grips with the new system.
However, this does seem to be still happening in some cases, although the unusually low levels of travel during the pandemic make getting an accurate picture difficult.
Lyn Thompson, who lives in Charente-Maritime in France, said: “I have travelled three times between France (where I live) and the UK since April 2021, due to family illness.
“The biggest issue each time has been persuading French Border Force officials NOT to stamp my passport, despite the fact I have a Titre de Sejour (residency permit) which I have shown alongside my passport.
“I was unable to prevent this the first time I returned (via Eurostar) despite arguing with the official, so my passport has a stamp which effectively says I have only 90 days from April to stay in Europe. The most recent time I travelled (by air) I had yet another argument with French Border Force who told me that the rules were that every British passport should be stamped.
“I pointed out that the stamp allowed me to stay for only 90 days whereas my Titre de Sejour meant that I was resident in France and therefore didn’t need to/shouldn’t have my passport stamped, and our discussion went on for some time.
“He only eventually let me through without a stamp because a massive queue was building up and he obviously wanted to get rid of this difficult woman. While the Titre de sejour should trump the passport stamp (at least I hope so) I really don’t want to find myself arguing about my right to return to France when the first 90 days is up – after all, if the Border Force are ignoring the Titre de Sejour and stamping anyway, they are just as likely to ignore it again and refuse entry.
“So this is adding further worry and hassle to what is already a stressful journey, given the circumstances.”
France resident Gillian Price added: “The French border control insisted they stamped our passports even though we showed them our new carte de séjour residency cards, EDF bill and bank statements with our French address.
“We now have a 90 day visa stamp. The border control insisted every UK passport holder need to be stamped even though we are resident in France!”
We fully appreciate that having an argument with a border guard in another language can be a daunting task – especially as you feel the waves of frustration from everyone behind you in the queue – but if you see an error being made it is important that you point this out.
What happens if your passport is stamped in error?
This is of course the key point, but it is also where things get hazy.
The Local has so far not received any reports of travellers who have run into later problems after an incorrect stamp – although we are keen to hear of any. That said, it’s only nine months since the transition period ended and many people have not been travelling because of the pandemic and travel restrictions, so it may be that problems are yet to reveal themselves.
The British Embassy in Germany told us: “UK nationals who were legally resident in Germany prior to the end of the transition period on December 31st 2020, and are therefore subject to the Withdrawal Agreement should not have their passports stamped when re-entering Germany.
“However, a stamp in your passport does not alter your rights under the Withdrawal Agreement, such as your right to reside here and to receive a new residence document.”
The Embassy spokesman added: “We have raised this issue with the German authorities and they have provided the following advice for those UK nationals affected:
“Stamping a passport at the border does not mean that a decision on residence status has been taken. The stamp merely documents that the passport holder was checked in the place stated on the stamp, whether this check had been performed in the course of an entry or exit, and which means of transport was used.
“The stamp entails neither the loss of rights under the Withdrawal Agreement nor in any other way a change of legal status. Consequently, a stamp on entry does not need to be annulled and may be retained unaltered in the passport as a souvenir.
“If however someone exits the Schengen area more than 90 days after their passport was stamped, then they should also carry with them a document demonstrating their current residence status, for example as a beneficiary of the Withdrawal Agreement.”
The British Embassies in France and Spain have provided similar advice – namely that the stamp does not alter your rights of residency and incorrect stamps do not need to be annulled.
However, while a stamp may not alter your rights of residency, does having one in your passport mean you may run into problems at the border? Your residency status should be easy to prove, but it might involve delays, extra checks or even interrogations while travelling.
The advice from all official bodies is to carry with you at all times the documentation that proves your right of residency in the EU.
If you have experienced any problems with passport stamping, please let us know at ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com
The Local
news@thelocal.fr
@thelocalfrance
RELATED TOPICS
TRAVEL NEWSRESIDENCY PERMITSBREXIT
TRAIN TRAVEL
EXPLAINED: How to not be ‘bumped’ from an overcrowded Austrian train
COVID-19 RULES
Reader question: Do I need to wear a mask on flights to/from Austria?
TRAIN TRAVEL
EXPLAINED: How to not be ‘bumped’ from an overcrowded Austrian train
Austrian trains have been overly crowded recently, with some people who had valid tickets having to be removed for "safety reasons". Here's how to make sure you get to your destination.
Published: 19 May 2022 11:59 CEST
Train travel is a safe and relatively comfortable way to get around Austria, but there is still much to do to make these journeys better for travellers, especially for commuters.
In Austria, a combination of high fuel prices, the adoption of the subsidised Klimaticket, and Vienna’s new short-term parking system, combined with other factors including a green surge and nice weather, has led to an increase in the search for train travel.
The operator ÖBB expects an even higher surge in the next few days, as warm weather meets holidays in Austria. This has led to several journeys being overcrowded, with people travelling standing up or being removed from trains when they reach capacity and the number of people compromises safety.
READ ALSO: Half-price Europe train tickets on offer in Interrail flash sale
“Safety is the top priority. If the train is too full to be guided safely, passengers must be asked to get off. If they don’t do it voluntarily, we have no choice but to get the police. This happens very rarely,” Bernhard Rieder from ÖBB told broadcaster ORF during an Ö1 interview.
Why are trains overcrowded?
There are several reasons for the surge in train travel, but they boil down to two things: rising costs for other means of transportation and environmental worries.
With galloping inflation, Austrians have seen prices of fuel climbing, and as the war in Ukraine continues, there is no likelihood of lower petrol prices any time soon.
At the same time, since March, Vienna (the destination for many domestic tourists and commuters) has instituted a new short-term parking system, basically removing free parking in the streets of the capital.
Driving has become more expensive when everything else seems to be costly, and many Austrians turn to train travel. Particularly for those who are holders of the Klimaticket, a yearly subsidised card that allows for unlimited travel for just over €1,000 – early buyers could get a hold of the ticket for under €900.
READ ALSO: Nine German expressions that perfectly sum up spring in Austria
The ticket allows travellers to “hop on and hop off” as they wish, making occupancy more unpredictable. However, it is possible to reserve seats even if you have them, and there are low-budget bundles for commuters.
The Klimaticket was created in an effort with the Environmental Ministry, looking to increase the use of greener transport alternatives in Austria.
The environmental concern is also one of the reasons why train travel is on the rise globally – travelling by train is also more convenient in many cases, with comfortable seats, free wifi, a dining area and the fact that you can start and end your journey in central stations instead of far-away airports.
READ ALSO: OPINION: Trains are in fashion so why is rail travel across Europe still so difficult?
Why won’t ÖBB only sell as many tickets as there are train seats?
A reasonable question, but that is not possible with the way train journeys operate in Austria – and in most countries.
Some tickets are “open” and flexible, meaning that people can board any train from a specific time. These are particularly useful for commuters who might be late leaving work, for example.
Additionally, holders of the Klimaticket and other regional yearly offers don’t need to buy tickets. They only need to show their Klimaticket card with an ID once checked.
READ ALSO: Austria’s nationwide public transport ‘climate ticket’ now available
What is ÖBB doing to avoid overcrowding?
After the several incidents of overcrowding when people even had to leave their trains despite having valid tickets, ÖBB announced it would bring additional trains for the peak season around the holidays (May 26th, June 5th and 6th and June 16th), increasing the number of seats by “thousands”, according to a press statement.
What can I do to guarantee my journey?
Despite the increase in offer, the operator still warns that “on certain trains, demand can still exceed capacity”.
The best way to try and guarantee your journey, according to ÖBB, is by reserving a seat.
READ ALSO: One day in Vienna: How to spend 24 hours in the Austrian capital
“A seat reservation is the best way to use the most popular train connections. Starting at €3, you can reserve a seat in ÖBB trains in Austria”.
Reservations are available online at tickets.oebb.at the ÖBB app, at the ÖBB ticket counter, and at the ÖBB customer service at 05-1717.
Amanda Previdelli
news@thelocal.at
@aprevidelliEN
SHOW COMMENTS
TRAVEL NEWS
LATEST: What are Austria’s current Covid-19 rules?
TRAVEL NEWS
Reader question: How to write an invitation letter for visitors to Austria
Get our daily news roundup straight in your inbox
By signing up you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. We will use your email address to send you newsletters as well as information and offers related to your account.
The Local Europe AB
Vasagatan 10
111 20 Stockholm
Sweden
Latest newsCovid-19ViennaPractical tipsLanguageBrexitMy accountStudent accessCorporateNewslettersNewslettersHelp centerGift voucherSearch siteContact usWho we areSend us a storyAdvertise with usAustriaEuropeGermanyNorwaySwedenDenmarkFranceItalySpainSwitzerlandJobs in AustriaNoticeboardApartment rentals