Getting a EU passport stamp
June 21, 2011 1:20 PM   Subscribe

If I travel by train from Switzerland to France will I get a EU stamp on my passport?

Because of very convoluted and hard to explain reasons (It boils down to me having dual nationality) I will fly to France in July and won't get my Mexican passport stamped at the airport (In fact I won't be carrying it at all, since it will be mailed to me later on).

I'm worried that this could pose a problem when I have to register to live at the Dutch town where I will be studying in September. (They might ask why I don't have an entry stamp). All my student application has been done with the Mexican passport but I won't have access to it till August (It will be mailed to me) because it's being held up due to visa paperwork.

I will be staying in France from July to August. One solution I see is to travel to and from Switzerland by train, but I'm not sure. Will I get an EU entry stamp if I travel by train or foot to and from it?
posted by anonymous to Travel & Transportation (18 answers total)
Travelling throughout Europe with a Canadian passport, the only entry stamp I got was arrival at Rotterdam.

From there, I crossed Holland->France->Spain->France->Germany->Holland and never once got stamped.

YMMV, obviously.
posted by smitt at 1:24 PM on June 21, 2011

Switzerland became part of the Schengen Area as of December 2008, so it's not terribly likely.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 1:27 PM on June 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Switzerland signed the Schengen Agreement and doesn't appear to do passport control at its borders because it's surrounded by member states. I know for a fact that you can travel between Switzerland Germany and France with no customs activity.

Looks like your two closest options are Andorra (pretty useless because you obviously didn't fly into Andorra to start your trip) and the UK. I think you should go west, not east.
posted by Mayor Curley at 1:30 PM on June 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Why don't you contact the coordinators of your study program, or the police in the town in question, and just ask? AFAIK entry stamps are basically for tourists and it's your visa that matters (so you don't try to work if you're not allowed, or study for free if you're not eligible).
posted by Lyn Never at 1:30 PM on June 21, 2011

So just to clarify:

You are flying to France with some-other-nationality passport, which you will presumably have stamped at CDG or wherever in July?

Do you need a visa to study in the Netherlands? Doesn't that visa have to go in your passport? If so, I hope it's going in the Mexican passport that you used for all of your paperwork...

When I got a student visa to study in France (I'm American, my only passport), at the embassy in New York, they put a visa sticker on a page of my passport. When I showed up in France at the airport, they wanted to know why I was there and I showed them the passport with the visa, and I believe that they stamped my entry stamp on or next to that visa-sticker page. When I eventually went to register for my residency card or whatever it was, I had to show them that. During that same time, taking the Eurostar over to London, I went and stood in the Non-EU-Nationals line, and they flipped through my passport and asked about the visa and what I was studying, etc, all up in my business.

If you were studying in France I'd say good f-ing luck, but I imagine that they might be more friendly and accomodating in the Netherlands. Bring both passports and say that you entered the country with your whatever passport. I'd like to think that Europeans would be accomodating about and not fazed by dual citizenship.

Speaking directly about the stamps, I've been stamped and not stamped going between Switzerland and other European countries (by train). Travelling by train through Central Europe (all Schengen), I was woken up to have my passport stamped at every single border in all directions. I've also specifically asked to have a stamp, gotten an eye-roll from a customs official, and gotten the stamp. But what I also could see happening is having them say at Swizterland or wherever you're trying to get your stamp -- "You're from Mexico? How did you get to Europe in the first place?" They will be looking for that original entry stamp. You might be able to tell them that it's on another passport (which you'll have to show to them) -- I don't know. But people do go through the passport looking at other things -- people have asked about my French student visa. Maybe Google for dual-citizenship entry-stamp issues.
posted by thebazilist at 1:36 PM on June 21, 2011

I don't know whether you'll actually need an entry stamp or not, but your best option would be a return trip to the UK as passport control is definitely still in operation on such a journey.
posted by Jehan at 1:54 PM on June 21, 2011

Its unlikely, due to the Schengen Area - but its not impossible that it might be stamped, as the swiss border is in my experience generally more strict than other Schengen borders just because switzerland is non-EU and has (had?) some different customs arrangements ect, plus fairly defined choke-points.

But it sounds like your real concern here is that you will be in the EU on a tourist visa until your mexican passport arrives and are not sure what license that gives you to travel to switzerland. If so, I think we would need to know the duration of your tourist visa and its nationality before we could help you.
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory at 2:06 PM on June 21, 2011

It is unlikely that anybody will check your passport on that journey. As others have said they are both Schengen countries and as somebody who lives in Switzerland and travels to both France and Germany regularly my ID never gets checked on this journeys. The only time my ID gets checked is when I travel to the UK.
posted by koahiatamadl at 2:06 PM on June 21, 2011

You might, if you ask. They wouldn't give me one when I asked, but friends have gotten them.
posted by blue_beetle at 2:31 PM on June 21, 2011

I just did this, like 2 weeks ago, and got no stamp, or any conformation whatsoever that any border had been crossed. I also flew into Switzerland from an EU country and got no stamp (there wasn't even anyone at the customs kiosk)
posted by genmonster at 3:09 PM on June 21, 2011

Agreeing that the French/Swiss border outside Geneva is rarely even manned in my experience.
posted by auto-correct at 3:59 PM on June 21, 2011

Having done this (Geneva to Chamonix) round trip, no, no you will not. I was quite disappointed not to add a French stamp to my passport.
posted by maryr at 5:49 PM on June 21, 2011

(PS: I got a Swiss entry/exit stamp after flying through Heathrow from the US both ways, though the destination and departure Swiss cities were different)
posted by maryr at 5:51 PM on June 21, 2011

I am not an expert, but I think this sounds like a non-ideal situation. As far as your non-Mexican passport shows, you will be overstaying a tourist visa. You should leave the EU on your non-Mexican passport and re-enter on your Mexican one, in order to get everything in order. It sounds like the UK might be a good enough destination, but I'm not sure.
posted by jacalata at 6:35 PM on June 21, 2011

Just another anecdote, but when I visited Europe for the first time -- over 20 years ago -- they weren't going to bother stamping my passport at the French-Swiss border until i asked them to do so as a souvenir.
posted by desuetude at 9:49 PM on June 21, 2011

I go from Paris to Zurich often via tgv. The trains just have customs inspectors doing rare, random searches, though somewhat stricter than customs than in airports. I've only once had someone go through my bag, but even he didn't look at my passport, let alone stamp it. One option if you are concerned about the entry stamp is to take the eurostar from Paris to London. That border crossing seems unusually formal, in my experience, and always result in stamps. I suspect flying from the UK would work, too, but my only experience of that is into Switzerland for my first entry on my visa, and I wouldn't want to extrapolate from that one.
posted by Schismatic at 11:30 PM on June 21, 2011

Agreeing with jacalata that if you stay in the EU you are there under false pretences, having entered on a tourist visa. You need to at least leave and re-enter the Schengen area. Note that "Schengen" and "EU" are two different things.

Since the UK is not part of Schengen, this may work. Switzerland will definitely not work. You can go to the UK by plane or Eurostar.

Note that if you take Eurostar, all immigration is done before you get on the train, on either side. So, in London, you go through French immigration and then just hop off the train on the other end. Although your Mexican passport entitles you to a visa-waiver (thanks Spain for colonizing us!) you should point out to the immigration officer that you are there to study and point out your visa.
posted by vacapinta at 3:55 AM on June 22, 2011

You're going to the Netherlands to study. Does the school or university help you get a visa in advance? Because then I don't think you need to worry about entry stamps.
If that will not be arranged for you by them I'd contact the Dutch immigration department. English site. You can search for yourself on that site or call them to work out what the best way to do this would be.

Have a great trip.
posted by joost de vries at 1:15 PM on June 22, 2011

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