How likely is it that I will be able to board a plane from Spain to Austria with a passport that expires in less than 90 days, if I have a valid long-term residency card (NIE) for Spain (which shows that I am legally tied to the Schengen countries)?

I am booked on a flight to Austria in 10 days, and I don't think I can get a new passport that fast.


The three-month rule applies to those who are entering the Schengen zone. Therefore, it does not apply to you for this trip.

The three-month rule is imposed by the Schengen Borders Code at Article 6(1)(a)(i), which is part of Chapter 1, Crossing of external borders and conditions for entry. (I say "three months" rather than "90 days" because that is what the code says: "...its validity shall extend at least three months after the intended date of departure...").

You are not crossing an external border, so you are not entering the Schengen zone, and this article does not apply to you. You should therefore have no trouble boarding the flight.

  • TIMATIC isn't programmed to reflect this fact though, so no matter how correct, it probably can't be used as an argument to permit Boarding (wheras the info in my answer definitely can). Also the 3-month doesn't apply if you have a residence Permit, even if entering Schengen
    – Crazydre
    Jun 4 '18 at 15:29
  • 1
    @Coke "the 3-month [rule] doesn't apply if you have a residence Permit, even if entering Schengen": do you have a reference for that? The Schengen Borders Code says that the three month rule can (must, in fact) be applied if the person is entering Schengen for a purpose other than transit to the country that issued the residence card. So if Sonia were trying to pop into Austria in the middle of a vacation in Serbia, she should be refused entry. Will this ever actually happen to anyone? I highly doubt it; it's a nonsensical result. But that's what it says.
    – phoog
    Jun 4 '18 at 15:45
  • Possibly, but TIMATIC publishes actual practice at the border (as opposed to formal law, whenever there is a difference, which my IATA contact has stated isn't uncommon at all), and it's what check-in goes by. They're not going to browse the Schengen Borders Code
    – Crazydre
    Jun 4 '18 at 15:48
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    @Coke It might be actual practice at the airport of departure unfortunately but what basis do you have to claim it's the practice at the border? Border guards are more likely to refer to the Schengen Borders code than to some random IATA database.
    – Relaxed
    Jun 4 '18 at 18:47
  • @phoog Article 6(5)(a) does give some room for exceptions to the three-month rule for residence permit holders.
    – Relaxed
    Jun 4 '18 at 18:50

Per TIMATIC, the database used by check-in staff:

Passports and other documents accepted for entry issued to residents of Spain must be valid on arrival.

So you only need a valid-on-arrival passport (and residence permit) because you have a Schengen residence permit.

For US citizens without a Schengen residence permit, TIMATIC instead states:

Passports and other documents accepted for entry must be valid for at a minimum of 3 months beyond the period of intended stay

That's the difference

  • Hi. Thanks. Both the US passport and my Spanish NIE will be valid throughout my travel (from Spain to Austria and back) but the passport expires 2 months from my date of travel (not 3).
    – Sonia
    Jun 4 '18 at 9:06
  • Is my passport considered "valid" if that is the case? Thanks.
    – Sonia
    Jun 4 '18 at 9:52
  • @Sonia When it says "valid on arrival" it means no period beyond that is needed. It's because you have a Schengen residence permit.
    – Crazydre
    Jun 4 '18 at 12:40

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