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Old 23.10.2011, 01:21
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For Americans: Does Switzerland check your passport upon leaving?

I just wanted to know if any American living or working (or both) has any relevant knowledge on this: Does Switzerland only check your passport coming in or do they check it coming out as well? I've heard some say they don't check natives' passports or information, only with the foreigners they do, and I think it's all silly...
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Old 23.10.2011, 01:35
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Re: For Americans: Does Switzerland check your passport upon leaving?

Yes, they do check (and if necessary stamp) your passport upon exiting the country.
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Old 23.10.2011, 01:35
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Re: For Americans: Does Switzerland check your passport upon leaving?

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I just wanted to know if any American living or working (or both) has any relevant knowledge on this: Does Switzerland only check your passport coming in or do they check it coming out as well? I've heard some say they don't check natives' passports or information, only with the foreigners they do, and I think it's all silly...
Yes, they do. They also ask you questions like, are you married and ask if your child is yours if they have a different last name than yours (which got the guy a response of, 'would you be asking that question if I had taken my husband's last name?' to which he replied 'no' and when he requested a birth certificate I asked if he'd accept a copy of a document all in English and possibly forged to prove something that could be easily solved by simply asking my 5yo if I am her mother or even looking at our residence permits which bear the same serial number. He just gave me a look and let us pass. Not sure why they do it, but I imagine it has something to do with fines for those who stay over the days allowed on various visas.
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Old 23.10.2011, 08:48
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Re: For Americans: Does Switzerland check your passport upon leaving?

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I just wanted to know if any American living or working (or both) has any relevant knowledge on this: Does Switzerland only check your passport coming in or do they check it coming out as well? I've heard some say they don't check natives' passports or information, only with the foreigners they do, and I think it's all silly...
I assume you mean at the airport? 'cause I have been coming and going by car and always just been waved through.
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Old 23.10.2011, 08:55
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Re: For Americans: Does Switzerland check your passport upon leaving?

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I just wanted to know if any American living or working (or both) has any relevant knowledge on this: Does Switzerland only check your passport coming in or do they check it coming out as well? I've heard some say they don't check natives' passports or information, only with the foreigners they do, and I think it's all silly...
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I assume you mean at the airport? 'cause I have been coming and going by car and always just been waved through.
I was assuming airport as well - it's not like they can tell who is what nationality in a car after all.

Meanwhile, YES, they do check my passport at the airport - I've never had it stamped though. (My poor bare passport )

I have had my passport checked at the border in a car before also, but they asked for everyone's ID, it's not like they said "hmm, that gal in the back seat doesn't look very Swiss..." These days I carry my permit with me rather than passport, if you don't have a permit, you really should "always" have your passport with you.
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Old 23.10.2011, 09:09
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Re: For Americans: Does Switzerland check your passport upon leaving?

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They also ask you questions like, are you married and ask if your child is yours if they have a different last name than yours (which got the guy a response of, 'would you be asking that question if I had taken my husband's last name?'
I assume this is done because of fears of kidnapping and/or custody disputes. When my nieces and nephews were younger, I was usually questioned when traveling with them. To make it easier, I had their parents write and notarize a letter stating that the children had their permission to travel with me.

Switzerland didn't seem to enforce this as rigorously as the US and the UK, though.

(Of course, the letter could just as easily been forged, as you point out...)
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Old 23.10.2011, 11:39
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Re: For Americans: Does Switzerland check your passport upon leaving?

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Meanwhile, YES, they do check my passport at the airport - I've never had it stamped though. (My poor bare passport )
Mine (U.S.) only gets stamped in the U.S. and the U.K.

Always make sure to have your Swiss permit while traveling through / into / out of the Schengen area and present it when asked for a passport. Otherwise they will look for a stamp to check the 90 day limit.

As Swiss residents, we do not get a stamp. This is a good thing.
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Old 23.10.2011, 12:43
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Re: For Americans: Does Switzerland check your passport upon leaving?

I do have one Swiss stamp in my passport. When I entered here for the first time in 2007, my C permit was already approved but I couldn't get it till I arrived, so I had to have an entry visa to get in. I have a visa stuck into my passport, and a stamp received at the airport that says "schweiz".

I always have both my C permit and my passport when I come and go. Usually the C is stuck inside the passport and most of the time, that's all they look at.
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Old 23.10.2011, 12:50
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Re: For Americans: Does Switzerland check your passport upon leaving?

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I just wanted to know if any American living or working (or both) has any relevant knowledge on this: Does Switzerland only check your passport coming in or do they check it coming out as well? I've heard some say they don't check natives' passports or information, only with the foreigners they do, and I think it's all silly...
There are no systematic controls inside the Schengen territory.

As to the second part of your post: That does not make sense inside the Schengen territory. In order to distinguish "natives" from other people, they'd have to look at all the passports, which is not allowed under the Schengen Agreement.

What does make sense is to check if people from non-Schengen countries that are leaving the Schengen territory (flying to the US for example) have respected the time limits of their Schengen visa. That would then be checks in accordance with the Schengen Agreement snd not some kind of "nationality profiling".

The same thing happens when people leave the US. It does not really make sense to check whether a US citizen has "overstayed", but with people from other countries it does. There is nothing "silly" about that.
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Old 23.10.2011, 13:45
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Re: For Americans: Does Switzerland check your passport upon leaving?

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I assume this is done because of fears of kidnapping and/or custody disputes. When my nieces and nephews were younger, I was usually questioned when traveling with them. To make it easier, I had their parents write and notarize a letter stating that the children had their permission to travel with me.

Switzerland didn't seem to enforce this as rigorously as the US and the UK, though.

(Of course, the letter could just as easily been forged, as you point out...)
Strangely, in all the flights I've had with her, Switzerland is the only country that has asked. I was asked when we first entered "are you married" as if it might be a relevant question. I was warned by the embassy in NYC to carry both a copy of her birth certificate and a letter from my husband, which I did, but such information would be much more credible if the parents' names were included on the passport of the minor in question since it would be easy to include and much, much more reliable than a photocopy of a birth certificate or letter.

The customs guy in the US asked me if she was my daughter, but that was it.
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Old 23.10.2011, 13:51
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Re: For Americans: Does Switzerland check your passport upon leaving?

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The same thing happens when people leave the US. It does not really make sense to check whether a US citizen has "overstayed", but with people from other countries it does. There is nothing "silly" about that.
I'm not aware of any exit passport control for US natives or otherwise in US airports. If you've overstayed a visa, they'll know and you'll not get another one if you re-apply or something along those lines. I knew a guy who overstayed his visa by a few years before heading back to Europe. He exited the country without a problem, but he will have problems coming back to visit for a few years.
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Old 23.10.2011, 13:59
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Re: For Americans: Does Switzerland check your passport upon leaving?

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Mine (U.S.) only gets stamped in the U.S. and the U.K.

Always make sure to have your Swiss permit while traveling through / into / out of the Schengen area and present it when asked for a passport. Otherwise they will look for a stamp to check the 90 day limit.

As Swiss residents, we do not get a stamp. This is a good thing.
I'm not sure this is true since, when we were checked as we left the country almost two weeks ago, we got a stamp in the passport and we both have B residence permits.
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Old 23.10.2011, 14:30
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Re: For Americans: Does Switzerland check your passport upon leaving?

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Always make sure to have your Swiss permit while traveling through / into / out of the Schengen area and present it when asked for a passport. Otherwise they will look for a stamp to check the 90 day limit.
I've got a Schengen area passport. Never once showed my permit. (No particular reason for this, it just hasn't occurred to me to dig out and all too probably misplace another difficult to replace document.) Never once had a question about stamps, or got stamped.

Not saying one shouldn't carry the permit, just that they're getting the relevant data on their screens and aren't that interested in hassling us. If a border official had a bad day, I'm sure this would come up. (The fact that I've yet to see one on a bad day is one of the little things I enjoy here.)

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Old 23.10.2011, 15:43
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Re: For Americans: Does Switzerland check your passport upon leaving?

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I'm not aware of any exit passport control for US natives or otherwise in US airports.
I had to show my passport every single time when I left the US by plane. And they put it (the machine readable passport) in the machine-readable-passport-thingy= a systematical check.

I don't really have a problem with that (whether its done by the US, Switzerland or some other country). "You" will want to confirm the identity of the people boarding a plane, you will want to know if that person shows up in your terrorist database etc.


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If you've overstayed a visa, they'll know and you'll not get another one if you re-apply or something along those lines. I knew a guy who overstayed his visa by a few years before heading back to Europe.
Hehehe, where do they "know" that from?

Could that be from machine-readable passports? Or from systematically retrieveing flight data?

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He exited the country without a problem, but he will have problems coming back to visit for a few years.
Same thing here.
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Old 23.10.2011, 15:56
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Re: For Americans: Does Switzerland check your passport upon leaving?

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I had to show my passport every single time when I left the US by plane. And they put it (the machine readable passport) in the machine-readable-passport-thingy= a systematical check.

I don't really have a problem with that (whether its done by the US, Switzerland or some other country). "You" will want to confirm the identity of the people boarding a plane, you will want to know if that person shows up in your terrorist database etc.
The airline folks and TSA check, but do you go through an actual passport control officer? They're different entities. I've never noticed this as my husband is an EU passport holder and he hasn't been singled out for an extra passport check. Perhaps this is something new in the last year?

The guy in Switzerland appeared to be a real border guard rather than just a security drone making cursory checks.

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Hehehe, where do they "know" that from? Could that be from machine-readable passports? Or from systematically retrieveing flight data?
I'm not entirely sure, actually, but I do think they collect data from flights so that when they swipe your passport, they can see when you've entered and left. It's not entirely accurate though as the numbers of illegals in the US is fairly high in spite of all the border controls.
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Old 23.10.2011, 16:15
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Re: For Americans: Does Switzerland check your passport upon leaving?

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I was asked when we first entered "are you married" as if it might be a relevant question. I was warned by the embassy in NYC to carry both a copy of her birth certificate
Sometimes the first questions they ask are deliberately for factual and "non-relevant" information (e.g. where have you come from, are you married) so they can determine your reaction & body language when telling the truth. Then they ask the questions where they are really interested in the answer to see if there is a difference.

You can notice this a lot at passport control even travelling alone. You'll often be asked where you travelled from, even when in a long line of people who all got off the same flight.
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Old 23.10.2011, 16:17
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Re: For Americans: Does Switzerland check your passport upon leaving?

I think there's plenty of 'checking' - you just don't think of it as that:

- when you book an airline ticket, you give your passport details as part of the booking process. (now they have your details)
- when you check in your baggage, they check your passport and issue the boarding pass. (baggage staff check your details and that you photo matches)
- when you go into the secure area of the airport, you have to have a valid boarding pass, or else a passport (at Zurich airport they do kids birthday party tours and all must have passports to clear into the secure zone). (now airport security know you have entered that zone)
- at the gate, they scan your boarding pass again, and check your passport.
(airline staff check your boarding pass and make sure the photo on your passport matches).

At any of these points they may also be cross-matching your data and/or scanning the chip on your passport.

When you come back into Zurich airport, within the Schengen zone, there is no passport control. They already cross-matched everything when you boarded the plane. But when you enter from a country outside the schengen zone, there is definitely a passport control and they definitely scan the chip and cross-match your details with swiss immigration.

I re-entered from Australia last August on an expired work permit, and the Canton police who scanned my passport and ID card knew straight away that my permit was expired.

I understand that a lot of the checking is done by the airline, because they will be fined for accepting a passenger whose papers are not in order...

The checking when children's names do not match the parent's names is to ensure compliance with the Hague convention.

Quite frankly, I have no problem with the children's grandparents, aunties, uncles, parents, guardians, being asked whether the children are theirs, and if they are allowed to be taken out of the country - I'd rather that 1000 times than have one child 'trafficked' for any reason across national borders...
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Old 23.10.2011, 16:35
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Re: For Americans: Does Switzerland check your passport upon leaving?

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The checking when children's names do not match the parent's names is to ensure compliance with the Hague convention.

Quite frankly, I have no problem with the children's grandparents, aunties, uncles, parents, guardians, being asked whether the children are theirs, and if they are allowed to be taken out of the country - I'd rather that 1000 times than have one child 'trafficked' for any reason across national borders...
Absolutely, but I do think checking on the basis of last name/family name alone is a bit of a fail. I asked the guy directly if he would have questioned me if we had the same last name and he said no. It would be so much more effective to put the name of the parents in the passport of the minor and, if the parents are divorced, to note the custodial parent and if travel requires permission of the other. It would reduce quite a bit of the guesswork and issues I would think. It wouldn't solve it completely, but it'd be a step up from last name.
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Old 23.10.2011, 17:40
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Re: For Americans: Does Switzerland check your passport upon leaving?

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I asked the guy directly if he would have questioned me if we had the same last name and he said no.
I was asked plenty of times when the kids were younger and it has nothing to do with the name at all. We have the same name. On long haul flights I prefer not to wear any rings as my fingers tend to swell. So I put my wedding band in my purse before leaving for the airport. No wedding band plus kids looks suspicious too.
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Old 23.10.2011, 18:37
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Re: For Americans: Does Switzerland check your passport upon leaving?

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I do have one Swiss stamp in my passport. When I entered here for the first time in 2007, my C permit was already approved but I couldn't get it till I arrived, so I had to have an entry visa to get in.
My passport (U.S.) which was valid when I first entered Switzerland has a full-page sticker from the Swiss embassy. I've since renewed my passport, so there is no longer any evidence in my passport that I have ever entered Schengen space.

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I'm not sure this is true since, when we were checked as we left the country almost two weeks ago, we got a stamp in the passport and we both have B residence permits.
Did you show your permits when you left Switzerland? We flew to the U.S. in September and didn't get a stamp. And when we returned last week, we also did not get a stamp. When entering and leaving Switzerland, we always present our permits with our passports, as requested by border patrol (experience).

I'm guessing you're still in the U.S. and am curious to see if there will be some confusion when you return to Switzerland. If there is, hopefully it'll be minor.

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I've got a Schengen area passport. Never once showed my permit. (No particular reason for this, it just hasn't occurred to me to dig out and all too probably misplace another difficult to replace document.) Never once had a question about stamps, or got stamped.
If you have a Schengen area passport, the Swiss residence permit is redundant. For those of us without Schengen area passports, the Swiss residence permit is very important when entering/existing the Schengen area.

Not actually relevant, but partially related, we were unable to do on-line check-in coming back to Switzerland, because the system said that we are required to have return tickets (to go back to the U.S.), per the rules of Switzerland. It had a space for our Swiss permit information, but the system did not cooperate.
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