<p>UK visitors to the Schengen Area now need entry and exit passport stamps</p>

UK visitors to the Schengen Area now need entry and exit passport stamps

Foreign Office warns Britons visiting EU to check passport stamps

Those missing exit stamp could be denied entry on their next trip

Lucy Thackray
Friday 12 November 2021 09:50
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The UK’s Foreign Office has warned British travellers to carefully check their passport on leaving countries within the EU’s Schengen Area to ensure sure they have received an exit stamp.

Since the end of the Brexit transitional period in January 2021, Britons must have their passports stamped on entry and exit when visiting the 26 countries within the European zone, including France, Spain, Italy and Greece.

Failure to show these stamps interferes with proof of length of stay - which is needed now there is a 90-day time limit on visiting these countries in any 180-day period.

The relatively recent rule change means it’s possible that airport staff may forget to stamp British passports each time their holders enter and exit the country - and travellers may forget to check stamps have been issued in both directions.

Following some confusion around the stamps, Foreign Office travel advice is being updated for visitors heading to the relevant parts of Europe.

The new guidance includes: “check your passport is stamped if you enter or exit the Schengen area… as a visitor”.

“Border guards will use passport stamps to check you’re complying with the 90-day visa-free limit for short stays in the Schengen area,” it continues.

“If relevant entry or exit stamps are not in your passport, border guards will presume that you have overstayed your visa-free limit.

“You can show evidence of when and where you entered or exited the Schengen area, and ask the border guards to add this date and location in your passport. Examples of acceptable evidence include boarding passes and tickets.”

In September, a British woman was refused entry to Spain because she had also visited in June, but border guards had not stamped her passport on departure - meaning Spanish records showed she had exceeded the time limit.

“I was denied entry to Spain on 26 September due to my passport not being stamped on exit on a previous one-week visit to Spain, which started on 4 June,” said the 72-year-old, named only as Linda.

“The guards initially stamped my passport to enter, then they noticed I had no exit stamp from that one-week visit in June, thereby classing me as an overstayer and subsequently marked the entry stamp with the letter F and two lines.”

Linda said that even though she had evidence she had indeed left the country and returned to the UK in June, Spanish airport officials would not allow reentry without the exit stamp.

She fears that the issue will persist indefinitely, since she still doesn’t have a passport stamp proving that she left Spain for the UK back in June.

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