Good morning folks. I arrived in Europe yesterday and I was a bundle of worry over the weekend before I arrived. I ran out of pages on my passport recently, after trying to protect the last available page for the longest time, and went in for a new book. I’ll write about my experience there later, but one of the concerns I had was about my valid visa’s still on the passport.
The USA Visit Visa
Like it is very well known, the US of A issues a 10-year validity visitor visa most of the times, and it is valid when your passport is cancelled without prejudice (it expires or runs out of pages). You just carry the passport books together, in my case two of them now, and the immigration officials will verify the trail and let you in. So, that wasn’t a matter of concern. I’m anyways looking forward to sign up for Global Entry once India becomes a signatory.
The Schengen Visa
However, my bigger concern was the Schengen Visa. I usually hold a multiple-year Schengen Visa because of my extensive work in Europe. The last time I renewed my passport, it was because the earlier passport was damaged and was not being accepted in scanners anymore. This was over 5 years ago. So, my Visa sticker on that passport was cancelled without prejudice and a new Visa granted on my new passport.
This time around, I was fully prepared to do the rounds of paperwork again for the visa, except I did not need to. My impression was that I do need a new sticker on the new passport, but when I got in touch with the consulate over email, they sent me a simple reply:
Thank you for your message. I kindly inform you that you can I use the still valid visa in the old passport book (now marked cancelled by Government of India) for travel to XXXX till XXXX, by presenting it together with your newly issued valid passport.
That was crystal clear. But I was still worried given no one amongst people I knew had ever done it this way. So, I digged some more and I found the Official Schengen Visa Handbook. And there, it said it:
In principle a person should travel with a valid visa affixed in a valid travel document. However, when all the blank pages of the Schengen visa holder’s travel document have been used for affixing visas or entry/exit stamps, he may travel on the basis of the “full” but invalidated travel document containing the valid visa, and a new travel document.
It also said the following, something I am pondering upon at the moment, but takes away a page from my new passport book:
Recommended best practice in relation to persons holding a valid visa in a travel document which does not contain enough blank pages for entry and exit stamps:if due to frequent travelling a third country national holding a still valid visa in a “full” but invalidated travel document applies for a new visa for the remaining period of validity to be affixed in a new travel document, the valid visa shall be revoked and a new visa with a validity corresponding to the remaining period of validity of the first visa be issued as quickly as possible and without charging the visa fee.
Of course, it is not done till it is done. So I had to wait to try it out. I printed out all this stuff because what if the Indian passport control does not know about this. I arrived at the Mumbai airport Sunday night, and I presented both my passport books (one with the Visa sticker, one my currently valid booklet). I was stamped and waved through in no time.
Over at Schipol Airport in Amsterdam, same thing again. The Border Police scanned both my passports on their computers, got my fingerprints, and let me in.
I’ve heard some Schengen countries are finicky about this exception, so I’d still confirm this about the specific country of travel before going there.
It turns out my worries were unfounded, and you could actually use a valid Schengen visa in an old passport to travel through the validity of the visa. However, this exception is valid only when your old passport is out of pages, not if it is damaged and cancelled or for any other reasons.
Did you know about this exception to the Schengen Visa rule? Have you used this before?