Healthplan Spain


Do You Have To Carry ID With You In Spain? Expat Tips

The issue of whether individuals, including both Spanish nationals and foreigners, must carry government-issued ID at all times in Spain has been a subject of uncertainty and discussion.

In the following sections, we will elaborate on the specifics of this requirement and its implications for foreigners living or travelling in the country.

ID Card Requirement for Residents

For Spanish nationals and foreigners alike, the legal framework regarding ID cards can be found in Spain's Organic Law for the Protection of Citizen Security, also known as the Gag Law, which was approved on March 31st, 2015.

According to Article 9.2 of this law, carrying identification documents at all times is not mandatory. However, individuals are obliged to identify themselves when requested by the authorities. Failure to do so may result in the authorities requiring the person to accompany them to the nearest police station where proper identification can take place.

For foreigners residing in Spain, they are required to have identity documents, such as the Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero (TIE) or EU green residency card, if they are over 14 years old and intend to stay in Spain for more than six months. The green residency certificates for foreigners do not have a photo, unlike the TIE cards and Spanish nationals' DNI cards. It is essential to understand that while carrying ID at all times is not obligatory, it is advisable to have it to avoid inconvenience during encounters with Spanish authorities.

Consequences of Not Carrying ID

In Spain, the authorities do not have the authority to impose fines or penalties solely for the absence of carrying an ID card or passport, even for foreigners. However, if someone is approached by law enforcement officers (Policia Nacional, Guardia Civil, Policia Local) and they are unable or unwilling to provide identification, they may be detained until their identity is verified. The maximum detention period in such cases is six hours.

If the police suspect that an individual is deliberately refusing to identify themselves, they may issue fines ranging from 100 to 600 euros for minor infractions, and up to 30,000 euros for more serious breaches.

This measure is implemented to address security concerns and prevent potential risks associated with terrorism or criminal activities.

European Union Citizens' Rights

European Union citizens, including those who choose to reside in Spain, have the right to move freely within the EU without the need for a visa. However, individual EU member states reserve the right to conduct identity checks on demand. Therefore, if you are an EU citizen living in Spain, Spanish law will apply, and carrying your valid ID card or passport is advisable.

Importance of Having Valid ID

While verbal warnings are often given for not having ID on hand, there is no requirement for law enforcement officers to issue such warnings. To avoid any complications, it is strongly recommended that foreigners, especially non-drivers, carry a valid passport with them at all times in Spain. Notarised copies of identification documents, such as a driver's licence or passport, are not accepted as valid identification.

In conclusion, while it is not strictly mandatory to carry ID at all times in Spain, it is in the best interest of residents, including foreigners, to have a government-issued ID card or passport readily available. Failing to identify oneself when requested by the authorities may lead to temporary detention and further verification of identity. To ensure a smooth experience with official processes and avoid potential administrative burdens, having proper identification is strongly advised for all individuals residing or visiting Spain.