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Foreigners officially resident in Spain not covered by new EES passport rules, Commission confirms

The Local Spain
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Foreigners officially resident in Spain not covered by new EES passport rules, Commission confirms
The new EES system is aimed at tourists and those making short visits to Spain – not non-EU citizens who live in Spain or second-home owners with visas. (Photo by JAIME REINA / AFP)

The European Commission has confirmed to The Local that foreigners living in Spain are not covered by EES - the far-reaching changes to passport control rules due to come into effect next year.

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The EU’s new entry and exit system (EES) is due to come into effect in May 2023, followed by the new ETIAS system in November, and between them they will have a major effect on travel in and out of the EU and Schengen zone.

EES means automated passport scans at EU external borders, which will increase security and tighten up controls of the 90-day rule – you can find a full explanation of how they work HERE.

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But the system is aimed at tourists and those making short visits to Spain – not non-EU citizens who live in Spain or second-home owners with visas, and there had been questions around how those groups would use the new system.

Now the European Commission has confirmed that EES does not apply for non-EU citizens who are living in Spain, telling us: “Non-EU nationals holders of residence permits are not in the scope of the Entry/Exit System and ETIAS. More about exceptions can be found on the website.

"When crossing the borders, holders of EU residence permits should be able to present to the border authorities their valid travel documents and residence permits."

What this means in practice is that foreigners living in Spain cannot use the new automated passport gates that will be introduced with EES in May 2023.

The reason for this is that the automated passport gates only give the option to show a passport – it is not possible to also show a TIE residency permit or a visa.

The automated system also counts how long people have stayed in Spain or the EU, and whether they have exceeded their 90-day limit – since residents are naturally exempt from the 90-day rule, they need to avoid the 90-day ‘clock’ beginning when they enter the EU.

READ ALSO: What happens if you overstay your 90-day limit in Spain?

A Commission spokesman said: “EES is an automated IT system for registering non-EU nationals travelling for a short stay, each time they cross the external borders of European countries using the system (exemptions apply, see FAQ section).

“This concerns travellers who require a short-stay visa and those who do not need a visa. Refusals of entry are also recorded in the system. Non-EU citizens residing in the EU are not in the scope of the EES and will not be subject to pre-enrolment of data in the EES via self-service systems. The use of automation remains under the responsibility of the Member States and its availability in border crossing points is not mandatory.”

READ MORE: What the EU’s new EES system means for travel to Spain

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