Traveling to Spain
A safe trip abroad
The Department of State has prepared some useful tips for enjoying a safe trip abroad. This includes Country Specific Information on virtually every country in the world, Travel Alerts and Travel Warnings.
(Please, see also Warden Messages page.)
Entry for tourism / business
American citizens can enter Spain or Andorra visa-free for periods of up to three months. Spanish government regulations may require a return or on-going ticket or proof of funds. Should an American citizen wish to remain longer than ninety days, you will be required to obtain an extension of stay from Spanish immigration authorities. This extension, of no more than ninety days, must be requested at a police station at least three weeks before the initial entry period expires. It is only granted under exceptional circumstances. By law, foreigners who have overstayed their permitted time will not be allowed to leave Spain without first obtaining an exit permit from the Directorate of Security of the State in Madrid or from the local police in another city. A fine, commensurate with the time overstayed, may be charged.
Check the expiration date on your passport carefully before traveling to Europe. Entry into any of the 26 European countries in the Schengen area for short-term tourism, a business trip, or in transit to a non-Schengen destination, requires that your passport be valid for at least three months beyond your intended date of departure. If your passport does not meet the Schengen requirements, you may be refused boarding by the airline at your point of origin or while transferring planes. You could also be denied entry when you arrive in the Schengen area. For this reason, we recommend that your passport have at least six months’ validity remaining whenever you travel abroad. For more information, please see the State Department’s Schengen FAQ page.
Should you be considering a stay in Spain longer than three months you should inquire with the Spanish embassy or consulate near your place of residence outside of Spain prior to entry. You may also write directly to the Spanish National Police at Calle Moratin, 43, 28014 Madrid; or check the Spanish Ministry of Interior’s website.
Residency and work permits
American citizens wanting to study, reside, or work in Spain must obtain the appropriate visa from the Spanish Embassy or Consulate in their state/country of last residence. After the visa has been issued, foreigners have three months to apply for the corresponding permit with the Spanish authorities in Spain. Obtaining a residence or work permit is a complicated process; since regulations change continually, we suggest that you check the Ministry of Interior’s website, or call the Ministry of Interior, within Spain, toll-free at 060. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also manages a website.
Driving in Spain
U.S. citizens visiting Spain who want to drive in Spain must obtain an international driving permit prior to their arrival in Spain. An international driving permit (IDP) translates your state-issued driver’s license into 10 languages so you can show it to officials in foreign countries to help them interpret your driver’s license. The IDP is not valid by itself and must be carried with your driver’s license. Click the following link for more information on driving overseas.
U.S. citizens who are residents of Spain must obtain a valid Spanish driver’s license. At this time, there is no agreement between the United States and Spain for the validation of a U.S. driver’s license; therefore, holders of a U.S. license must attend a Spanish driving school and take the Spanish exam. You can find more information on the Spanish Traffic Authority website.