Overstaying Tourist Visa in Greece

My daughter was ticketed 1200 Euro for staying in greece about 5 months instead of 90 days.  She left via train leaving behind most of her belongings to go to Turkey (troy & ephesus), and they pulled her off in the middle of the night, made her sign the ticket and let her proceed. Do you think the amountt is correct, and any other helpful info on how the law is supposed to work and how it does really work.  We had gotten poor info from the embassy before she left and had issues getting them to return messages.

I am sincerely sorry to hear about your daughter's bad experience at the border.  I will be glad to provide you with what I hope will be some helpful information.

1.  The penalty amount of Euros 1200 was correct.  The minimum penalty amount is Euros 500 if someone exceeds their automatic tourist visa stay for a period of less than an additional 30 days.  If someone is caught having resided in Greece for more than an additional 30 days, but less than an additional 90 days then the penalty is Euros 1200.  If someone exceeds their tourist visa by more than 90 days, then the penalty is Euros 1500, which is the maximum penalty. 
2.  The border police who are stationed at the Greek-Turkish border are typically in a bad mood as this duty assignment is generally viewed as being a kind of official "punishment" for the individual Greek police officers who get placed there.  Its considered to be a bad assignment and they typically hate every minute that are forced to work there.  Thus, they typically try their best to be as efficient as they can and catch as many "law breakers" as they can so that they can show their superiors that they are "good" cops who deserve another chance at doing real police work in the real world.  Unfortunately, your daughter's honest mistake of exceeding the 90 day limit provided one of those cops with an easy "gold star" on his "good behavior" report card.
3.  You are correct in that she would never have been fined if she did not try to go to Turkey.  If she had kept her touring itinerary limited to Greece, France, Italy, and Germany, she would never have been fined in any of those countries.  These countries are all "Schengen Treaty" countries.  This means, that all persons who are located in any of these countries can travel from country to country freely and without going through passport controls.  To better understand it, its like an American traveling from State to State.  Anyone in America, including illegal immigrants, can travel across state borders without needing to show anyone their passports or any other form of identification.  You might need to show a picture ID when you "check-in" at the airport when boarding a flight from New York to Los Angeles, but you certainly don't need to have a passport.  But, countries who have not signed the Schengen Treaty, including Turkey and England, do require that everyone entering or leaving their countries produce valid passports.  Thus, if she did not go to Turkey and instead went on to Italy or France, she would never have been fined by the Greek police authorities.  However, if she flew from Greece to London, then she definitely would have been fined just as she was fined for going to Turkey.
4.  She will not be fined in Germany or anywhere else.  The people who work in Greek embassies are often not very well informed and sometimes mislead people or, as you noted, give poor information.  The Border Police were correct.  If she pays the fine, then her 90 days will start anew.  When she left Greece on the train to Turkey, the police stamped her passport with an "Exit" stamp along with a "Penalty Stamp", which indicates that she was fined for exceeding her stay for a certain number of days and that she had not yet paid the fine.  When she returns to Greece, she can pay the fine and that will automatically renew her tourist visa for another 90 days.  Until the fine is paid, her name will appear on a "black list" of persons who will not be allowed entry into Greece.  The list is maintained for 5 years, therefore if she decides to return to Greece within the next 5 years for whatever reason, she will be asked to pay the fine at the border before she is allowed to re-enter Greece.  If she does not return to Greece, then she does not really need to pay the fine. The fine could have been completely avoided if she had applied for an extension to her regular tourist visa.  This is a mild hassle that would have cost her about Euros 300, but would have given her an additional 90 days of legal tourist status in Greece and throughout the European Union.  She would have been able to visit Turkey and London without risking having to pay any fines.
5.  After her visit to Turkey, she can legally enter Germany, Italy, France, England, or any other country in Europe (except Greece) and not deal with fines of any kind.  The Greek Border police stamp in her passport that indicates that she exited Greece and entered Turkey provides for a completely new time frame for her "new" visit to the European Union.  The other countries know that since the Greek Border police stamped her passport upon exiting Greece, that all visa violations and other time related issues were dealt with by them.  They will only address issues that concern her new visit to a European Union Country and typically they will not be particularly interested in giving an American citizen tourist type person a hassle.
In summation:  Tell your daughter to relax and not to worry about it too much.  I am sure that she was not happy with getting fined, but we all can make such mistakes.  A friend of mine, who is in his mid 70's, decided to bring his mother to visit Greece.  His mother is about 100 and she was born in Greece.  She migrated to America as a 16 year old girl and eventually got her American citizenship and had never returned to Greece since leaving it back in 1925.  Technically, since she was born and raised in Greece, she was still a Greek citizen, but she did not have a Greek passport or other means to prove it.  She stayed in Greece for a few days over the 90 day tourist visa time limit, and yes, believe it or not, they hit that old Greek woman with a Euro 500 fine.  She spoke perfect Greek and everyone could see that she was a Greek, but the cops would not give this woman a break. 
Anyway, let me know if you need any other information or clarifications.
Best regards,
Tom Mazarakis



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