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Reader question: Does Spain's TIE residency card always have an expiry date?

The Local Spain
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Reader question: Does Spain's TIE residency card always have an expiry date?
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Does the residency document issued to non-EU nationals (including Britons) living in Spain always have to be renewed after a period of time?

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The Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero (Foreign Identity Card) - more commonly known as the TIE - is the residency document foreigners from outside the EU/EEA need to get to live in Spain.

It’s now also the residency document being issued to UK nationals in Spain who hadn’t registered as residents before July 2020 (when it first replaced the old green residency documents).

Does the TIE always have an expiry date? Yes.

Unlike many of the older green Certificado de Registro residency documents for EU residents in Spain which have no expiry date on them, or the NIE foreign identity number which always stays the same and doesn't have to be updated, the biometric TIE card does have an expiry date, even if you've been living in Spain for more than ten years and could by then apply for Spanish citizenship. 

When you are issued with your TIE card for the first time, it will initially be valid for a period of five years, after which you can apply for permanent residency and will receive a 10-year TIE card.

This card needs to be renewed every 10 years, by applying for a renovación or renewal. You will need to start the renewal process three months before the expiry date.

It's also worth noting that if you do become a Spanish citizen, you have to renew your DNI Spanish ID card every ten years if you're aged between 30 and 70, after that the document has no expiry date.

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To apply for your TIE , the Spanish government website states that you need:

  • your completed EX17 application form
  • your passport
  • recent photographs of yourself
  • The resolution of the authorisation of the card
  • Proof of payment of the corresponding fee
  • Proof of registration in the Social Security system, if this applies to you

GUIDE: How foreigners can apply for their TIE residency card in Spain

British residents in Spain 

On May 13th 2024, the British Embassy in Madrid urged the thousands of Brits in Spain who have held onto their old green Spanish residency certificates since Brexit "to follow suit and get a TIE as soon as possible, ahead of the introduction of the EU’s new Entry Exit System (EES), expected in autumn this year".

British authorities in Spain have for four years now strongly encouraged those who've held onto their old green document to exchange it for a biometric TIE, but the degree of urgency has increased now with the arrival of EES.

"To be exempt from registering with the EES, British residents in the EU will need to show a valid uniform-format biometric card, which in Spain is the TIE," the embassy stated. In essence, hassle-free travel will be easier with a TIE and the green residency documents won't necessarily be accepted as away of proving residency.

It's worth stressing that it's still not compulsory to exchange, as strongly advised as it may be, and that in the eyes of Spanish authorities at least, the green certificado de registro does guarantee Withdrawal Agreement rights to British holders.

Even though its a photo-less flimsy piece of paper or cardboard, the green certificate does offer the advantage of not having an expiry date and therefore not needing to be renewed.

A 2023 study by Spain's Immigration Observatory revealed that more than half of UK nationals living in Spain - 211,274 people - hadn’t exchanged their green residency documents for TIEs following Brexit.

When you exchange your green residency card for a TIE, it will be valid for either five years or ten years, depending on how long you have been living in Spain.

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If you apply for the TIE and have been resident in Spain for less than five years, you will be issued with a temporary TIE, valid for five years. If you apply for the TIE and have been resident in Spain for more than five years, you will be issued with a permanent TIE, which is valid for 10 years.

According to Perez Legal Group “If you have already been living in Spain as a resident, then this time counts towards the five years. For example, if you moved to Spain two years ago, you only need to wait three years to apply for long-term TIE card”. 

Once you have your 10-year permanent TIE card, you will continue to renew it every 10 years, just like all other non-EU residents. The renewal process is exactly the same as described above. 

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