Residency permits For Members

Can you use your Spanish residency card rather than your passport to travel?

The Local Spain
The Local Spain - [email protected]
Can you use your Spanish residency card rather than your passport to travel?
TIE and residency documents are not valid for travel. Photo: Pau BARRENA/AFP.

Is it possible to travel around Europe on your Spanish residency card, using that as ID, rather than your passport?


What if you're getting your passport renewed, it was damaged, stolen, or lost, and you need to travel, can you just use your residency card to travel instead?

Unfortunately, the short answer is no.

The tarjeta de identidad de extranjero or Foreign Identity Card, better known simply as TIE is the card that non-EU citizens must get when they come to Spain. It can also prove residency. 

Like a passport, it contains details about your date of birth, gender, nationality, validation and expiration date, as well as a photo. But, it also includes your Foreigner Identity Number or NIE and your residency status within Spain. 

READ ALSO: How long does it take to get or renew a UK passport from Spain?

Essentially it contains most of the same information as Spaniards' National Identity Documents or DNI cards. But, this is where the confusion might come in, because Spaniards can travel on their DNI cards without the need for a passport.

According to the Spanish government, Spaniards can use their DNI to visit any EU country, as well as Albania, Andorra, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Norway, Serbia and Switzerland.


While the TIE and Spanish residency allows you to travel to Schengen countries, without the need for a visa or extra paperwork, you still need to show a valid passport and cannot travel on your TIE alone. 

READ ALSO: Can I travel to Spain if my passport has expired?

If your passport was stolen or is lost and you need to travel soon, then you'll need to apply for an emergency travel document or emergency passport. In order to do this you'll need to contact your embassy or consulate so they can issue you with one. For those from the UK, you can also apply online.

Remember your TIE

Even though, as we've just explained, you can't travel on your TIE without your passport, you will still need to remember to bring it.

You'll need this to prove residency in Spain when you return. This way, the border guards won't stamp your passport, and will still let you back into the country, even if you've used up your 90 out of 180 days elsewhere in Europe.


What if I'm an EU citizen and have a green residency card?

Unfortunately, the answer is still no, you still can't travel on your green residency card. 

The EU green residency card is a document you'll have if you're an EU citizen living in Spain. However, it's not a valid ID. There is no photo ID on the card and essentially it contains little information needed by authorities to travel across borders. 

This means that even if you're a citizen of an EU member state, you'll still need a valid passport when you leave or re-enter Spain. Citizens of some EU member states, however, may also be able to travel on their own country's ID cards, as Spanish nationals can do. 


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

CompetitiveSloth 2023/06/09 17:07
The last sentence is only partly true. As an EU citizen, in addition to a valid passport, I can also use a valid ID issued from my EU-member state (not sure about a Driver's License from an EU country).

See Also