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Legal documents to enter and remain in Spain

We will meet some of the most relevant characteristics of the main legally valid supporting documents that enable access and permanence in Spanish territory, in order to distinguish the differences, uses and purposes thereof.

Foreigners who are in Spanish territory have the right and obligation to preserve, in effect, the documentation which had made its entry into Spain, both, one that proves their identity issued by the competent authorities of the country of origin, as well as proving their situation in Spain.

Foreigners may not be deprived of their documentation, except in the cases and with the requirements of this Act.

The different conditions of foreigners in Spain may be credited, as appropriate, by Passport or valid travel document proving their identity, the relevant Visa or Foreigner Identification Card (NIE).

First, to enter Spain through the border crossings established for this purpose, we will require the passport (or a valid travel document) or a visa, depending on the country of origin and the agreements signed to this effect between the countries, we will know the main features of these documents.


The ordinary passport is a public, personal, individual and non-transferable document issued by the competent authorities, which accredits outside the issuing country, the identity and nationality of its owner unless proven otherwise.

The passport or valid travel document attesting entry stamp, besides the identity, credit the situation of stay in Spain in cases of foreigners that do not require obtaining a short-term visa.


The visa is an indication or action that the competent authority puts in a passport or another document to certify that has been reviewed and approved.

The visa validly obtained accredits the situation for which it was granted. The validity of the accreditation will extend from the effective entry of the holder in Spain until obtaining the appropriate Foreign Identity Card or until the validity of the visa is terminated.

The validity of the visa shall be the authorization or residence that incorporates, when it is not required to obtain Foreign Identity Card.

Once foreign is already on Spanish territory, and depending on the circumstances in which it is located, it will eventually may require other identification documents, the NIE and if the TIE. We will know its main features.

FOREIGN IDENTITY NUMBER (NIE / Número de Identidad de Extranjero)

Foreigners in whose favour a proceeding is initiated for a document, other than a visa, which enable them to remain in Spanish territory, those to which they have been initiated administrative proceedings under the provisions of law on foreign and those who by their economic, professional or social interests relate to Spain, will be provided for the purposes of identification, a personal, unique and exclusive number of sequential nature.

This number must appear on all documents that are issued or processed for the foreign, as well as in the proceedings which are affixed on his passport or similar document, except in visas.

For foreigners who are related to Spain for their economic interests (investors) must apply to the Directorate General of Police and Civil Guard provided that: are not found is Spain illegally, and giving reasons by the allocation of this number is requested.

This number of identity in itself does not prove the legal status of foreigners, although they may be required to obtain other legally valid supporting documents, such as TIE.

FOREIGN IDENTITY CARD (TIE / Targeta de Identidad de Extranjero)

All foreigners who have been issued a visa or permission to stay in Spain for more than six months, will get the foreign identity card (TIE), which must personally request within one month of its entry in Spain or since the authorization is granted, respectively.

The TIE is a document intended to identify foreigners for the purpose of proving their legal status in Spain, which is not transferable, and whose custody and preservation corresponds to its owner.

At the end of the effective term of the TIE, holders are required to submit the document to the immigration offices or police stations where they reside.


After this brief analysis of each of the main supporting legal documents to enter and remain in Spanish territory from abroad we can conclude that:

The passport (or a valid travel document) and visa are required documents, as appropriate, prior to entry into Spanish territory character, therefore these documents will be issued mainly, without prejudice to the cases established by law in countries of origin or residence of the foreign, as appropriate and by the corresponding authorities,

The NIE and TIE are documents that will be required only under certain conditions, and in any case when already obtained the necessary documents to allow access to Spanish territory legally, so the issue will be made mainly, without prejudice to the cases established by law, by the corresponding Spanish authorities.

The NIE is a unique identification number that identifies foreigners, but that does not mean supporting document valid for stay or residence in Spanish territory, however, the TIE yes it is, because it indicates the NIE, and the type of permit or residence permit and its validity, among other information.

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