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Can I travel to Spain if my passport has expired?

The Local
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Can I travel to Spain if my passport has expired?
Passport checks at Spanish customs. Photo: Josep LAGO / AFP

What happens when you want to travel to Spain, but your passport has expired? Are you still able to enter with an ID document or similar? We take a look at the situation for Spanish citizens, EU citizens, non-EU foreigners with residency in Spain and third-country tourists.


Picture this, you plan to visit Spain or are returning home to Spain, but when you check your passport, you realise it's out of date.

You don't have time to renew it, so is there any way that you can still enter Spain on an expired passport? Is it possible to use an ID card or residency document instead? 


Read on to find out the rules, depending on your particular situation. 

Spanish nationals

If you are a Spanish national and want to come back home, but your passport has expired, you may still be able to do so by entering with your DNI card instead.

The Spanish government website states that: “A Spanish citizen may enter Spain with an expired passport or ID card once the border control authorities have checked the authenticity of the document and that the identity and nationality of the person match the data appearing on the document they are carrying”.

The Spanish government also stresses that for Spanish citizens under the Spanish legal system, entering Spain with an expired passport or ID card (DNI) is not an offence.

EU nationals (residents and visitors)

Let’s look at the situation for EU citizens, who are either residing in Spain or just visiting. 

The Spanish government states that in accordance with current legislation (Article 4 of RD 240/2007 on the entry, free movement and residence in Spain of citizens from EU Member States and EEA States), to enter Spanish territory, a valid passport or ID card is required”.

This means that EU citizens, as well as citizens of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland, may enter Spain with their national identity card if their passport has expired, as long as it is valid.

The Spanish government specifies that those with passports from Belgium, France, Austria, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, the Netherlands and Portugal can enter on their valid ID card if their passport expired up to five years ago. 

While those from Germany and Hungary can enter Spain with their ID card on a passport which expired up to one year ago. 


Non-EU nationals who are residents in Spain

But what if you’re not an EU or Spanish citizen, but you have Spanish residency? Is it then possible to enter with an expired passport and use your residency card such as a TIE instead?

Unfortunately, the answer is no. Your TIE or other Spanish residency card is not valid for travel, it only serves as proof that you have the right to live in Spain. Therefore, if your passport is not in date, then you cannot use your residency card instead.

The same goes for family members who are not nationals of the EU or of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, or Switzerland. They too may only enter on a valid passport.

READ ALSO: Passport stamp or scan? What foreigners at Spain’s borders should expect

Non-EU tourists

As a tourist from a non-EU country, you are not able to travel to Spain if your passport has expired.

The Spanish government says that you must provide a valid passport or travel document, such as an emergency travel document issued by your embassy or consulate abroad if your passport was lost or stolen. 

They state that “the document must be valid until three months after the planned date of departure from the Schengen territory, and must have been issued during the ten years immediately before the date of entry”.

Certain nationalities may also require a visa to enter Spain. Before travelling, it’s best to check with your local Spanish consulate to enquire whether you’ll need a visa or not.


British passports

Be aware that there has been a lot of confusion surrounding passport expiry dates for British people since Brexit. It particularly affects those who had renewed their passport early before it expired. Before Brexit, if you renewed your passport early, the authorities would simply add on the extra amount of time to your new passport. So, if you renewed it three months early, your new passport would be valid for 10 years and three months, but since Brexit, the UK government has been saying that this extra amount of time is no longer valid. 

There is even more confusion however because some EU countries are saying the extra time is still valid. 

The UK government state on their website: "We are asking the European Commission to clarify the 10-year rule. Their guidance for Schengen border guards may not be updated until the spring of 2022. Until then, for some Schengen countries your passport may need to be less than 10 years old during your whole visit, and the 3 months at the end of your visit may need to be within 10 years of your passport’s issue date". 
In a bid to resolve all the doubts, on April 26th the European Commission said that British holidaymakers in this situation should not be prevented from flying, adding that "based on the experience gathered in implementing these rules", it is "now clear that a more generous interpretation of the rules is possible and we have therefore updated our advice".
More recently on April 28th, the Spanish Embassy in Madrid posted further clarification saying: "If you are a British resident in Spain with rights under the Withdrawal Agreement, you can enter and exit Spain with a valid UK passport. You do not need any additional validity on the passport beyond the dates on which you are travelling.

Otherwise, normal third country rules apply, so you will need to have a passport that is valid for at least three months after the day you plan to leave the Schengen Area, and is less than 10 years old".



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