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Should Foreigners Carry Passport/ID and Documented Proof of Residency Status?

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Interpretation of the law is fundamental in determining the meaning of a legal document. It assists the judiciary to implement the law efficiently.

We are all aware of barristers arguments in any court room as he/she interprets a law that may have been broken.

The obligation for foreigners to carry a passport/ID and proof of residency status. Let us give you some examples.

The royal decree on on rights and freedoms of foreigners in Spain and their social integration.

“Article 205. Rights and duties.

1. Foreigners who are in Spanish territory have the right and obligation to keep, in force, the documentation with which they entered Spain, which proves their identity, issued by the competent authorities of the country of origin or of origin, as well as the one that proves your situation in Spain.

2. Foreigners are obliged to show the documents referred to in the previous section when required by the authorities or their agents, in the exercise of their functions.

We can agree that there it does not mention that you must carry these documents at all times but are obliged to to show the documents to the authorities and police when asked to*.

That is not the only law on the carrying of documents.

Let’s go to the organic law Organic Law on the protection of citizens security.

Accreditation of the identity of foreign citizens.

Foreigners who are in Spanish territory have the right and the obligation to keep and carry with them the documentation that proves their identity issued by the competent authorities of the country of origin or provenance, as well as that which proves their regular situation in Spain.

What if you do not have the relevant documents?

From the same law:

Foreigners will be obliged to exhibit the documentation mentioned in section 1 of this article and allow the verification of its security measures, when required by the authorities or their agents in accordance with the provisions of the law, and for the time essential for said verification, without prejudice to being able to prove their identity by any other means if they do not carry it with them.

*Read on further for information of the rights and consequences to provide documentation as above:

“Article 16 Identification of persons

1. In fulfilling their functions of investigation and crime prevention, as well as for the sanction of criminal and administrative offences, the agents of the Security Forces and Bodies may require the identification of persons in the following cases:

a) When there are indications that they have been able to participate in the commission of an offence.
b) When, in view of the concurrent circumstances, it is considered reasonably necessary that they prove their identity to prevent the commission of a crime.
In these cases, the agents may carry out the necessary checks on public roads or in the place where the request was made, including the identification of people whose face is not fully or partially visible due to using any type of garment or object that cover, preventing or hindering the identification, when necessary for the indicated purposes.

In the practice of identification, the principles of proportionality, equal treatment and non-discrimination based on birth, nationality, racial or ethnic origin, sex, religion or beliefs, age, disability, sexual orientation or identity, opinion or any other will be strictly respected. other personal or social condition or circumstance.

2. When identification is not possible by any means, including telematics or by telephone, or if the person refuses to identify himself, the agents, in order to prevent the commission of a crime or in order to punish an infraction, may require those who could not be identified to accompany them to the nearest police stations where the appropriate means are available to carry out this diligence, for the sole purpose of their identification and for the time strictly necessary, which in no case may exceed six hours.

The person who is requested to identify himself will be informed immediately and understandably of the reasons for said request, as well as, where appropriate, the requirement to accompany the agents to the police stations.

3. In the dependencies referred to in section 2, a record book will be kept in which only seats related to citizen security will be made. It will include the identification procedures carried out, as well as the reasons, circumstances and duration thereof, and your data may only be communicated to the competent judicial authority and the Public Prosecutor’s Office. The competent body of the Administration will send monthly to the Public Prosecutor an extract of the identification procedures with expression of the time used in each one. The entries in this book-register will be canceled ex officio after three years.

4. Persons displaced to police stations, for identification purposes, must be issued a flyer proving the time spent in them, the cause and the identity of the acting agents upon their departure.

5. In cases of resistance or refusal to identify oneself or to collaborate in the verification or identification practices, the provisions of the Penal Code, the Criminal Procedure Law and, where appropriate, this Law will be followed”.

We could argue that if stopped and we are complying with the law, the above will not apply. The agent is the one to decide if he believes there has been an infraction and not us.

Let us look at other references on carrying documentation where for example the police have taken their instructions:

From the National Police website, foreigners.

Foreigners are obliged to carry the passport or document on the basis of which they entered Spain and, where appropriate, the document referred to in the previous section, as well as to show them when required by the authorities or their agents. .

From a ministry of the interior site.


Where it states:

“The foreigner who is in Spanish territory has the right and the obligation to keep and carry with him the documentation in force that proves his identity, issued by the competent authorities of the country of origin or provenance, as well as that which proves his regular situation in Spain, being obliged to exhibit the documents when required by the authorities or their agents, in the exercise of their functions.

At CAB Spain we feel it is our obligation to give you full facts and not only our interpretation on the laws but also the interpretation of the ministry of the interior and the national police.

Please note: The information provided is based upon our understanding of current legislation. It is not legal advice but is provided freely to enable you to be properly informed. We recommend that if you are considering taking action, you should seek professional advice.

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