Considering the upcoming implementation of an electronic entry and exit system at the Schengen borders, Schengen travellers from non-EU/EFTA countries would do well to keep track of the permitted length of stay. Exceeding the limit has unpleasant consequences, even if it happens subconsciously.
Implementation of the electronic entry/exit system EES
According to an official announcement by the federal government, an electronic system for recording the entries and exits of third-country nationals as well as the automatic calculation of the duration of stay in the Schengen area, the so-called Entry/Exit System EES, will be put into operation throughout Schengen in the second half of 2023. The currently common, outdated practice of stamping the passport will thus become obsolete. Despite various indications that the planned introduction will be delayed, it is obvious that once the EES is introduced no overstay will remain undetected. Therefore, in future it will be even more important to be aware of how to keep track of the permitted days of stay as well as the consequences of exceeding them.
Validity of Schengen visas
The Schengen visa allows third-country nationals to stay short term in the Schengen area for tourism or business purposes. It is usually valid for one year and allows a stay in the entire Schengen area of max. 90 days in any180-day period. Both the day of entry and the day of departure are counted. Border crossings within the Schengen area are permitted, the length of stay in the various countries is cumulative.
Third-country nationals from countries that have concluded a visa waiver agreement with the Schengen area (e.g. the United Kingdom) do not need a visa for a short stay in the Schengen area, but still they have to comply with the 90/180 day rule.
The following list from the State Secretariat for Migration SEM provides an overview of visa requirements according to nationality: Overview of ID and visa provisions according to nationality (Annex CH-1, List 1)* (admin.ch)
Overstay in the Schengen area
An overstay applies if the period of validity of the visa or the length of stay of 90 days within a 180-day period has been exceeded. This may sound simple, but due to the rolling calculation system it can become quite confusing, particularly in the case of multiple stays.
To prevent an overstay, we highly recommend using the European Commission's residence calculator before each trip to ensure that the planned stay does not exceed the permitted 90 days within 180 days. It is advisable to study the guide beforehand. Both the short-stay visa calculator and the quick start guide can be found on the SEM homepage: Calculation of short-term stays / short-stay calculator (admin.ch)
Consequences of an overstay
An overstay should definitely be avoided, because it can lead to severe consequences depending on the individual situation and regardless of whether it is committed consciously or subconsciously.
Most commonly the consequence may be a fine. The amount of is determined individually by each Schengen member state and usually depends in particular on the duration of the overstay.
For more serious offences, for example in the case of a repeated offence or if the accused person has been engaged in gainful employment, an entry ban may also be imposed. Depending on the duration of the infringement and the country imposing the ban, it can be pronounced for up to five years.