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Can I travel within Spain with only my Spanish residency document?

The Local Spain
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Can I travel within Spain with only my Spanish residency document?
Can you catch a domestic flight in Spain with just your TIE or EU green residency document? Photo: Josep Lago/AFP

If you can’t use your passport for travel, is your TIE or green residency document sufficient to catch a flight, ferry, coach or train from one part of Spain to another?


As you probably know already, foreigners who are residents in Spain either have a green residency document if they’re EU citizens (the Certificado de Registro de Ciudadano de la Unión) or the TIE (Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero)  if they’re non-EU citizens.

There are also more than 200,000 UK nationals with pre-Brexit residency status who haven't exchanged their green residency documents for TIEs.


Travelling between Spain and another country

Foreigners, regardless of whether they're EU or non-EU nationals,  cannot use just their Spanish residency document when travelling between Spain and another country.

As stated in Spanish law CE 399/2016 regarding the TIE, “this document lacks validity for border crossings”.

So while carrying or showing your TIE may be necessary if you’re a non-EU national entering or leaving Spain, this will have to be accompanied by your passport. 

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.

On the other hand, for Spanish nationals and EU citizens who are travelling to Spain (including those from Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland), there is the option of using their Spanish ID card (DNI) or their national identity card if their passport is lost or has expired. 

READ MORE: Can you use your Spanish residency card to travel between Spain and another country?


Travelling within Spain with just your Spanish residency card

Fortunately, non-EU citizens can use their valid TIE card on its own without a passport to travel between two parts of Spain, as it is a photo ID which also proves your residency in Spain.

Domestic flights: Spanish airport operator Aena states that for domestic flights within Spain, people from third countries can show their valid Spanish residency document or their valid residency document from another Schengen country instead of their passport. 

For non-EU residents in Spain, a Spanish driving licence can even considered a valid form of ID for national travel. 

EU citizens who are residing in Spain can also reportedly use their green residency document (Certificado de Registro de la UE) instead of their passports to catch national flights. This is despite the fact that it is a flimsy non-photo form of ID. 

EU nationals also have the option of showing an expired passport or national identity card, or a Spanish driving licence.

However, keep in mind that Aena recommends that you check the conditions set by the airline you’re planning to travel with as they can have the final say. 

Vueling for example, one of Spain’s main domestic flight operators, states on its website the exact same rules as Aena. The same applies to Iberia Express.



Train travel within Spain: According to Spain’s state rail company Renfe, staff “may request identification from clients using current identification documents with photographs (National Identity Document, Driving Licence, Residence Card, Passport, and for children under 14 years of age the Libro de Familia is accepted”.

Therefore, producing a TIE card as ID instead of a passport to catch a train in Spain will be accepted. The green residency certificate of EU residents may not be sufficient however, as it has no photo.


Travelling by ferry within Spain: Fred Olsen Express, an inter-island ferry service based in the Canary Islands, states that you’ll “just need to travel with the identity document that you carried out the booking with (ID, NIE, PASSPORT OR SIMILAR)”. We’re assuming they mean the TIE instead of the NIE.

Travelling by coach within Spain: Leading Spanish bus company Alsa makes no mention specifically on its website about whether foreigners can travel just with residency document instead of a passport. They simply say “the traveller must show original documentation” with them.



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