Whenever I check into a hotel in Spain, they ask me for ID. A credit card and loyalty card for the hotel chain doesn't seem to be enough, it seems to need to be some sort of official ID.

It seems that the expectation on the part of the staff is that you'd hand over your Spanish ID card, or failing that an ID card from another EU country. Since I come from a country that doesn't have ID cards, I don't have one like that to offer. Instead, I've tended to hand over a photo driving license, in part because it's in my wallet with my credit cards. Some hotels seem fine with this, some say it's OK but get very confused filling out their guest form with it, some seem very unhappy. Almost none seem to think to ask for a passport, they all explicitly seem to ask for ID.

My question is therefore in two parts. Firstly, is this checking of ID a legal requirements in Spain, or is it just something the hotels seem to like doing? And if it is a legal requirement, what is and isn't acceptable ID to offer to the hotel?

  • 5
    Is there any reason not to show your passport?
    – Bernhard
    Commented Aug 17, 2014 at 12:08
  • Firstly it's often not to hand, and secondly they don't ask, and thirdly I'm not generally in the habit of giving out my passport to randoms for no reason!
    – Gagravarr
    Commented Aug 17, 2014 at 13:04
  • 8
    Hi Gagra - it's completely common in Europe, that you have to give your passport to the hotel staff when you check in. You will get it back the next day, or after a few hours. You must do this in very many parts of the EU and switerland. (It varies by region.)
    – Fattie
    Commented Aug 17, 2014 at 15:08
  • 2
    @JoeBlow Hand in? I thought we were talking about showing them? Also, I didn't experience this in any of my stays in hotels around Europe.
    – Bernhard
    Commented Aug 17, 2014 at 17:35
  • 2
    Hello Bernhard! Particularly in Italy, every single time I have to leave them with, the desk manager. (parents + 3 children.) Let's see, over this summer we stayed in 4 different hotels in nthn Italy and it happened every time! Usually you get them back "in a few hours", or the next morning. By all means "your mileage may vary". If people have other reports, let's hear it
    – Fattie
    Commented Aug 17, 2014 at 19:29

2 Answers 2


In addition to Ian's answer, I'd like to add a few information from law:

Firstly, is this checking of ID a legal requirements in Spain, or is it just something the hotels seem to like doing?

It is a legal requirement in Spain. Every hotel must keep a registry of guests and send a copy to the police - nowadays, the "copy" is usually an electronic communication. The hotel is also required by law to check the data in the registry with a Spanish ID or a passport. I assume that ID cards from European countries which are valid to travel to Spain without a passport can be used instead of the Spanish ID or passport.


To answer the first part:

You need a photo ID card with a photo and a number which is recognised nationally or at the level of Europe. In the case of all Spanish nationals, this means their ID card called a DNI, or Documento Nacional de Identidad. Only if this has been lost or misplaced would a Spanish national use their passport instead. This card is used for all transactions from credit card purchases (although many shops no longer insist as most cards require PINs) to the renting or purchase of flats. The ID card also works outside Spain. My wife, for example, travels to the UK using this ID card instead of her passport.

Nationals from France, Italy, etc, use their country's ID cards when in Spain. As British nationals in Spain do not have an ID card, they usually carry their passport or a photocopy when on holiday. But in the case of UK nationals resident in Spain, they do something different: they use the new credit-card-sized photo-ID driving licence along with something called a NIE which is a number allocated to them by the government when they register as residents.

So, applied to your case, I would suggest using your driving licence and a photocopy of your passport. That should be more than enough!

To answer the second part:

I understand that hotels have to keep a list of all guests, dutifully identified. (And in Spain this naturally means the ID card.) I've stayed in places which do not do this, or which ask for cash, but I suspect this may have something to do with avoiding taxes!

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