The Schengen Information System (SIS) does not track tourist entrance and exit stamps, despite popular belief. Let me break it down.
The SIS was put into place to preserve security within the Schengen Zone (and now there is a more powerful SIS II). This means authorities such as police and border guards, can enter and consult alerts on certain categories of wanted or missing persons and objects.
The system was founded for the following descriptions of people:
The remainder of the database is populated with alerts relating to:
If you are coming to Europe and not looking to commit a crime, the SIS is not something you have to worry about. You do, however, need to pay attention to when you entered Schengen and when you exit (calculate your days with my Schengen Visa Calculator). As a tourist, you are allowed 90 days in Schengen zone twice a year (not back to back…it’s 90 days in an 180 period.)
The SIS does not record traveler’s entries and exits from the Schengen Zone. In fact, there is no centralized database tracking entries/exits for all the Schengen member states. Seems weird, right? The SIS is only focusing on illegal activities such as stated above.
Yes! If you have a visa, you will probably enter through the Visa Information System (aka VIS), and border control guards that are good at their jobs will be on the lookout! While the SIS does not give off a large BEEP if you have overstayed, there are 11 of the most popular countries in Europe that might sound the alarm if you overstayed in their country. Those countries are Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, and Romania. They all have national databases which record traveler entries/exits…
…although the data is still not shared between all these countries.
Once you enter Schengen, you only get 1 stamp and can travel freely without seeing another border guard. While it is illegal to overstay any visa, there are ways to slide by if you have made the mistake. If you have entered say Greece (who records entries/exits) and then leave from Italy; Italian border guards will not get a flag in their system because you did not register in Italy – you entered in Greece. See where I am going?
You can still get caught, of course, by the border guard who is looking for your entrance stamp and wants to do the math.