I'm a US citizen with a 10 year French resident card (carte de séjour) and I'd like to fly to Spain. My US passport expires in a few weeks and it seems that Spain is one of those countries that requires the passport to be valid for at least 3 months beyond the travel dates. Is it possible to travel using my resident card instead? If I drove into Spain or took the train, I wouldn't be asked to show ID at all.

  • Of course you should have renewed the passport months ago. Now you should do it immediately with expedited service. Feb 24, 2020 at 21:58

4 Answers 4


Despite the alarmist comment and answer, you can complete this trip if you leave Spain before your passport expires. The three-month requirement applies when crossing the external Schengen border, not for internal Schengen travel.

If you intend to go to Spain after your passport expires, you should renew it now.

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    -1 You didn't answer the question: Is it possible to travel using my resident card instead? The answer to that is a clear cut no. Feb 24, 2020 at 22:34
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    @MarkJohnson how do you imagine that "you can do this if you leave Spain before your passport expires" can mean anything other than "you need a valid passport while you are in Spain"?
    – phoog
    Feb 24, 2020 at 23:11
  • If is passport was still valid for the trip, the OP would not have asked the question and the title is very clear what is being asked. Also your 'alarmist' comment was inappropriate for both the comment and answer addressed the question based on the legal requirements. Feb 24, 2020 at 23:20
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    @MarkJohnson quite the contrary, the question explicitly mentions concern about the three month passport validity requirement, so the question absolutely does not imply that the traveler wishes to travel after the passport expires. It rather implies that the traveler wishes to travel while the passport has less than three months' validity remaining.
    – phoog
    Feb 24, 2020 at 23:57
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    @MarkJohnson I did address the question about travel with the residence card when I said "you can do this trip if...." I did not cite a source that the three months validity does not apply for internal travel because it's impossible to find a source for a rule that doesn't exist. All of the sources that mention the three month rule are directed to people crossing the external border. If I can find a copy of the Spanish immigration law online, I'll add it to the answer.
    – phoog
    Feb 25, 2020 at 2:47

As long as your passport is valid (and you bring it with you on your trip), it is allowed to visit other Schengen states with a valid residence permit. The three-month rule does not apply to persons holding a valid Schengen residence permit travelling in another Schengen state.

Validity of travel documents of third-country nationals (non EU/EFTA)

Regardless of their visa obligation status, third-country nationals (non EU/EFTA1) wishing to enter Switzerland for a short-term stay not exceeding 90 days per period of 180-day[s] must be in possession of a travel document that:

  • will remain valid for at least three months after the intended date of departure from the Schengen area; and
  • has been issued within the previous ten years (the date of issue concerns only entry into the Schengen area).

The date of issuance of the travel document shall be the determining factor, notwithstanding any decision by the authorities to extend the period of validity of the travel document.

The aforementioned provisions on the validity of travel documents do not apply to travel documents of third-country nationals who hold a valid residence permit issued by a Schengen country (List of Residence Permits issued by the Member States) or who have been issued a valid category D visa for a long-term stay in a Schengen country. In such cases, the travel document must be valid at the time of entry and remain valid for the entire duration of the planned stay in Switzerland or in another Schengen country.

FAQs from the Swiss State Secretariat for Migration

  • For Germany, the FAQ information quoted here is not correct. A reason for a Refusal of entry is that Article 6 of the Schengen Border Code (SBC) is not fulfilled. The SBC does not specify anywhere that Article 6 (1)(a)(i) does not apply for residence permit holders visiting other Schengen Countries. Article 7 (Grenzübertritt und Grenzkontrollen) of the Swiss law (Ausländer- und Integrationsgesetz, AIG) refers only to the Schengen Agreements. Feb 26, 2020 at 14:36
  • @MarkJohnson A literal interpretation is impossible/absurd in the case because Article 6 requires validity of three months after the intended departure from the Schengen Area ("the territory of the Member States"). Would a third-country national holding a Swiss residence permit valid for five years be forbidden to enter Germany if their passport has three years of validity left?
    – xngtng
    Feb 26, 2020 at 14:56
  • No, since the person would be allowed in for 90 days on that visit. The Swiss law, German law or Schengen Border Code doo not confirm the Swiss FAQ. Feb 26, 2020 at 15:12
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    @MarkJohnson But their passport would not be valid three months after their intended date of departure from the Schengen area (supposedly when their permit expires).
    – xngtng
    Feb 26, 2020 at 15:17
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    @MarkJohnson Art. 6(5)(a) only explicitly allows entry for the purpose of transit to the issuing State.
    – xngtng
    Feb 26, 2020 at 16:55

If the airlines and/or Spanish officials correctly apply the EU Regulation 2016/399 Schengen Borders Code from 2016 (Somebody here quoted Schengen agreement from 1985 which is no longer valid) then a french resident card should be sufficient to enter Spain from France because border controls have been abolished at internal Schengen Borders by Articles 22-23 of EU 2016/399. Within the Schengen area we have checks within the territory according to Article 23 which are in general much weaker than a proper border control. Schengen states may impose "the possibility for a Member State to provide by law for an obligation to hold or carry papers and documents" according to Article 23/c of EU 2016/399. The details on the "papers and documents" are in Notification according to Article 42 of EU 2016/399 found here:


Even these days when we talk about temporal reintroduction of border controls according to Article 25 of EU 2016/399 these border controls are not equivalent to external Schengen border controls.

However, the airlines and member states officials do not really know what I just wrote so it is highly possible that you will run into problems without a passport. I am currently dealing with 2 cases on this topic, I am in talk with European Commission on this topic and I raised couple of criminal charges against German police.


A residence card is not considered a valid travel document to cross internal EU borders (Artical 21 Convention implementing the Schengen Agreement) . A residence card, togeather with a valid travel document (passport), shows you are legally in the Schengen Area.

A valid travel document is defined as:

  • valid for at least 3 months after the date you intend to leave the EU country you are visiting

You should rid yourself of the notion that just because there are no regular border checks does not mean you can travel without required travel papers.

Spain has the strictest requirements in the EU: you must carry required documentation at all times (as apposed to others where you are required to only to have them).

Any check that shows that your passport has expired will lead to problems, since you don't even have a valid travel document.

Therefore allowing your passport to expire and then go to the country with the strictes rules is truly a very foolish thing to consider.

The Schengen acquis - Convention implementing the Schengen Agreement of 14 June 1985 between the Governments of the States of the Benelux Economic Union, the Federal Republic of Germany and the French Republic on the gradual abolition of checks at their common borders
Article 21

  1. Aliens who hold valid residence permits issued by one of the Contracting Parties may, on the basis of that permit and a valid travel document, move freely for up to three months within the territories of the other Contracting Parties, provided that they fulfil the entry conditions referred to in Article 5(1)(a), (c) and (e) and are not on the national list of alerts of the Contracting Party concerned.

Passport and visa requirements
If you are a non-EU national wishing to visit or travel within the EU, you will need a passport:

  • valid for at least 3 months after the date you intend to leave the EU country you are visiting,
  • which was issued within the previous 10 years,

and possibly a visa.
If you have a valid residence permit from one of those Schengen countries, it is equivalent to a visa.

This statement is based on Article 6 - Entry conditions for third-country nationals of the Schengen Border Code.

The Schengen Border Code does not specify anywhere that Article 6 (1)(a)(i) does not apply for residence permit holders visiting other Schengen Countries.

The German residence law AufenthG § 15 (2)(3) quotes Article 6 directly as a reason for Refusal of entry.


  • 1
    Good answer. I would just suggest adding that although border controls don't ordinarily exist between France and Spain, they can be reinitiated at any time by either country if they deem a threat to their borders. This could be from a terrorist activity, or just simply looking for suspects who may try to cross the border after perpetrating a criminal act. Feb 25, 2020 at 5:15
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    @jason.kaisersmith More important is reminding peaple that the Police and Customs officials can make sporadic controls wherever they want. This has the advantage of surprise, which is often more effective that continuous checks at a pre-defined border. This is when the bad advice: 'there are no checks, so you don't need your passport' will be noticed by those that heed such advice. Feb 25, 2020 at 7:44
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    A "valid travel document" is a travel document that is valid, not valid for three months beyond, unless otherwise defined in the legal text or, where permitted by the text, a regulation made under the text. The EU page linked is for general tourists and business visits, not for people with residence permit and it does not propose to define "valid".
    – xngtng
    Feb 26, 2020 at 10:25
  • @zhantongz Then explain why the following is contained in their statement: If you have a valid residence permit from one of those Schengen countries, it is equivalent to a visa.. This explicitly includes peaple with residence permits, thus your statement is false. Feb 26, 2020 at 12:14
  • @zhantongz Since the main question is: Traveling within Schengen area with a resident card, (the answer being no - a passport is needed, based on Artical 21 of the 'Convention implementing the Schengen Agreement') the question which given source is correct on what is considered a valid passport is irrelevant to the asked question. Of the 3 answers, this is the only answer that answers the main question giving the legal source. This off-topic discussion has only lead to confusion to any reader. It serves no purpose in answering the OP main question. Feb 27, 2020 at 0:13

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