When I booked my flights in and out of the Netherlands I was unaware of the biggest party of the year fell on April 30th, which was going to happen a mere 5 days after my scheduled departure. I couldn’t miss out on Queen’s Night and Queen’s Day. Everyone I spoke said it was the greatest event in the Netherlands and here I was going to fly out just a few days prior to the party. “What a pity” was the most common response I got when I told people my departure date. Thus, I decided I wanted to stick around for an extra few days, but things were complicated by the fact that my residence permit was set to expire on April 25th.
As an American I was allowed to stay in Schengen for 90 days as a tourist and I hadn’t used those days yet since I had been in the country as a temporary resident. The question was: did I have to physically leave Schengen or would my visa just transfer to a tourist visa from a residence permit?
Not wanting to get into trouble I called IND and they informed me that if I, indeed, departed Schengen I could re-enter as a tourist. I just had to physically depart the Schengen area for 24 hours. Then when I returned to the Netherlands I would be restamped as a tourist. Thus securing me 90 more days in the country and the opportunity to participate in Queen’s Day!
So, did it work?
Yes! I am happy to report that leaving Schengen on a residence permit and returning as a tourist did work. I was a bit worried because I had read on message boards that people had successfully done this transition in less rule oriented countries. Here I was trying to re-enter as a tourist in the Netherlands. Technically, I wasn’t breaking any rules since I departed as a temporary resident and was being restamped as a tourist, but you never know what is going to happen at the border.
Nothing goes completely smoothly and I did have an unsettling moment when I left the Netherlands for Scotland. During my first month in the Netherlands I had been provided with a residence permit sticker in my passport. Then over the course of my time in the Netherlands, I had been given a residence permit card, which is kinda like a driver’s license. However, these 2 items had different expiration dates. The residence permit card expired the day before the sticker in my passport. At the time I got the permit card, I did notice the discrepancy and asked the local IND guy about it. He said that to change it was a bunch of paperwork and a time sink so not to worry. I didn’t think anything of it until the customs border lady asked me for my permit card as I was departing Amsterdam for Edinburgh.
I handed over my permit card excitedly since it was the first time I had used it and she kindly told me that next time I could go through the EU passport lane. How cool! I could pretend to be European now. Her demeanor changed when she saw that the card expired on that day. She looks at me square in the eye and asks “you know this permit card expires today?”. I respond that yes I do know that, which is why I am leaving Schengen. This answer pacifies her. I then point out that the permit in my passport doesn’t expire until the next day. She shakes her head and says it doesn’t matter what the date is on the passport sticker. The important date is the one on the actual card. That seems unfair since I didn’t make the mistake on the card, but I am not going to press the issue anymore. Thankfully, the tickets to Edinburgh were cheaper on the 24th of April otherwise I would have departed after the expiration of my residence permit!
I went and had a glorious time in Edinburgh. On my way back into the Netherlands I had a bit of fear. Would they let me back in? Yes, of course. I needn’t have stressed since the guy allowing me back into Schengen barely looked at me and just wished me a pleasant journey.
While the decision to stick around was a bit more complicated then just changing my ticket, it was worth the hassle. Not only did I get to check out Edinburgh, but then I spent 10 more days in Schengen and got to experience Queen’s Day and Night and got to go visit my travel buddy in Switzerland. Hooray for changing for plans!
Here are my previous posts on visa stuff:
- How I got an MVV visa (here)
- How I got a residence permit when I was in the Netherlands (here)
- New process to get an MVV visa and residence permit (here)
- Come back as a tourist, just leave Schengen for Scotland (here)