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Does transit through Germany’s neighbours affect Brexit 90-day rule?

Some British readers of The Local are concerned they may appear to have overstayed their 90 days in Schengen if they transit through another European country on their way back to Germany. Should they be careful?

A border control at Hamburg airport.
A border control at Hamburg airport. Photo: dpa | Christian Charisius

Brits who live near the border to countries like the Netherlands and Switzerland are used to flying into international airports like Zurich or Amsterdam before travelling on to their homes in Germany by car or train.

Previously this would have never posed a problem. But since the UK left the EU at the beginning of the year, Brits with permanent residence status have to obey new rules.

They are only allowed to spend a maximum of 90 days in a 180-day period in the Schengen area outside of the country they are resident in.

Some readers have raised concerns that transiting through a third country, despite only taking up a few hours of the day, could count towards this time limit. Or alternatively, a stamp on the passport upon entry in another European country could make it look like you’ve spent much more time there than a couple of hours of transit.

However – luckily – there doesn’t appear to be much cause for concern here. People who can prove their status under the Withdrawal Agreement – i.e. by showing their Aufenthaltsdokument-GB at the border – shouldn’t usually have their passport stamped at any external Schengen border.

A spokesman for Zurich police told The Local it was “highly unlikely” that police at Zurich airport would stamp your passport if you show your residency card.

In the unlikely case that immigration authorities challenge you over such a stamp, you could also show the train ticket from the airport to the border as proof that you only spent a brief period in the third country.

READ ALSO: Reader question: How can I re-enter Germany without my post-Brexit residence card?

In terms of whether the few hours in transit count towards the overall 90 days, this also seems to be unlikely. The spokesman for Zurich police told the Local that he didn’t think that the couple of hours that someone spent travelling from the German border to Zurich airport would count as part of this time, although he was unable to give a definitive answer.

Because border police generally shouldn’t stamp your passports when you arrive in the Schengen area if you can present your residency document, this means in practice that there is no physical record in your passport of how much time you have spent in a specific Schengen-area country. Once in the Schengen area, you will not face border controls when travelling from country to country.

READ ALSO: Passport stamps: What British residents in the EU need to know when crossing borders

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Germany’s Deutsche Bahn to raise ticket prices by almost five percent

The cost of long-distance train travel in Germany is to go up significantly from December.

Germany's Deutsche Bahn to raise ticket prices by almost five percent

The price of tickets for long distance rail services run by Deutsche Bahn (DB) in Germany are to go up by an average of 4.9 percent this winter, it has emerged. 

The company said the hikes, which will come into force from December 11th, are in response to high inflation.

Some tickets will see an even higher increase. The price of Flex tickets, which aren’t tied to a specific train and can be cancelled, will increase by an average of 6.9 percent.

The cost of BahnCards 25, 50 and 100, which frequent travellers can use for discounted rates, are also going up by around 4.9 percent.

Super Saver and Saver fares – Sparpreise – are, however, staying the same. They start at €17.90 (or €12.90 for people who are 27 or younger), although these tickets are not offered on every train and come with some restrictions.

Seat reservations will also remain at the same level. It costs €4.50 for second-class seat reservations.

The changes will apply to DB’s long-distance trains – Intercity and Intercity Express (IC and ICE).

READ ALSO: German rail operator plans huge modernisation 

The company said the hikes were happening because of inflation. Like many other companies, Deutsche Bahn was “forced to react to the massive inflation by adjusting its prices,” but the firm said this was still well below the current inflation rate of eight percent.

DB added that the German Tariff Association said at the beginning of September that regional services would see a price increase of four percent on average.

The new long-distance timetable – which will apply from December 11th – can be booked in advance from October 12th, according to Deutsche Bahn.

Up to and including December 10th, the new offers can still be booked at the old price.

Despite major problems with the punctuality of its trains, Deutsche Bahn has recently been able to significantly increase its passenger numbers back to the level it reached before the Covid crisis. However, as one of the biggest consumers of electricity in Germany, it has also been hit hard by rising energy costs. The additional costs for the coming year have been put at two billion euros, said the firm. 

It comes as federal and state leaders are widely expected to agree to a new nationwide successor to the €9 euro ticket, which would cover all regional public transport – including DB’s regional trains – around the country.

According to Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP), the government is aiming to introduce the new travel offer by January 1st, 2023. 

READ ALSO: Germany sets out plans for €49 public transport ticket in October