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Can a Felon Travel to Spain?

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You might be thinking about taking a trip after your long prison sentence ends. Why not head across the ocean and take a trip to Spain?  

The issue is whether not a felon can travel to Spain. We’ll answer that question here.  

In this blog post, we’ll cover the following:

  • Travel Restrictions
  • Why Spain?
  • Getting a Passport
  • Is a Visa Required?
  • Traveling to Spain
  • Entering Spain
  • Steps to Take


Travel Restrictions

Is it possible to travel after your release from prison?  Your probation officer will put a hold on that until you have finished all of your sentence, including probation. Reporting to your probation officer online will also have to be satisfied.

Any type of travel, even locally and not just out of the country, is out of the question. When you are on probation, you can’t leave your district without your probation officer’s consent.

The probation office wants to keep a close check on you at all times. So, no local travel and no going overseas. After probation is over, you might be able to go beyond the U.S. border.

Why Spain?

As a felon, why would you want to visit Spain? You likely have the same reasons anyone else does. You may have served time in prison, but you have the same interests as anyone else who doesn’t have a criminal record.

So why not Spain? Spain is a great place for U.S. tourists to visit for many reasons. It’s part of Europe along the Mediterranean coast. It has many mountains and is the second most mountainous country in Europe after Switzerland.

Spain has delicious food and age old restaurants. There are temples, Roman ruins, and old palaces along with bullfighting.

Getting a Passport

If you want to go to Spain, you must have a passport. It’s the law. Getting a passport doesn’t have to be difficult.

A passport doesn’t give you permission to leave the country. It’s a type of identification like a driver’s license is in this country. A passport allows you to travel internationally and identifies you as a U.S. citizen

Yes, you can get a passport to answer the question. There are a few restrictions placed on felons who want to get a passport. Of course, you must have completed your sentence, including probation.

One issue that can prevent you from getting a passport is having a felony conviction for drug trafficking. If you have smuggled drugs into or out of the country, the federal government doesn’t want to give you a passport because it could be used to escape from the country.

Additionally, many misdemeanor drug convictions could prevent you from qualifying for a passport. An outstanding warrant could also keep you from getting one. Other things that could be a hindrance to a passport are outstanding child support or other form of financial debt to the government.

After this you must present proof of your citizenship. For most, it would be your birth certificate that shows your full name, city and state of birth along with your parents’ names. Once you have completed Form DS-11, which is the way to apply for a passport, it can take several weeks to process it. 

This is because the government is likely searching a national database to make certain you aren’t in the group that has any of the previous criminal and other legal factors. Once that has been accomplished, and you are successful, you will have a passport to travel abroad.

Is a Visa Required?

Ok, so a passport will allow you to legally leave the country and travel. But you might also need a visa. 

A passport is a type of U.S. ID that allows you to leave the country. So a visa is a document that permits you to enter a particular country, and it comes from the country you want to visit.

Each country sets its standards for who can cross their border. For many countries, a visa may be required, depending on the reason for the trip and how long you want to stay.

Some countries require a visa, some don’t, and some require one depending on how long you stay. You can usually get a visa application from the embassy or website of the country you plan to visit.

If you’re in a hurry to get your visa or want someone to walk you through the process, I recommend you use this website to help.

As a note, an application for a visa usually doesn’t have any questions about your criminal record. Most other countries simply don’t ask.

So, this part may not be so difficult either.

Traveling to Spain

Now that you have taken care of the passport and visa requirements, how do you get to Spain? No, we don’t mean do you know the directions.

It’s about the travel options to get there. You would have to either fly or go by a cruise.

Let’s look at these options.

First, flying to Spain shouldn’t pose a problem for you as a felon. A possible issue would be if your name is on the no-fly list maintained by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for those suspected of being terrorists.  There are a few thousand names on this list at any time. So, you’re probably OK to fly.

A cruise is a popular means of travel to Spain. For any type of cruise, as long as you have a valid passport, you should be all right to travel. So you can travel to Spain either by flying or taking a cruise. 

Let’s look at this a moment. While you may have a valid passport, if you have any outstanding warrant for criminal activity since you got your passport, the trip will be off. You won’t be able to leave the country with outstanding charges. That would be considered fleeing the country and would cause you all kinds of grief.

Of course there must be no restrictions on U.S. citizens in traveling in general, meaning the travel policy for the country you intend to visit must not restrict travel into the country.

Entering Spain

Let’s look at the requirements to enter Spain.

Spain is a member of what is called the Schengen Agreement enacted in 1985. The Schengen territory consists of 26 European nations, which combine to operate with one external border as part of the agreement.

When you enter the Schengen area, travelers must present their passport to get an entry stamp. At that time, immigration officials will decide if travelers are qualified to enter the area. 

Those U.S. citizen tourists who have been inside the Schengen area for less than three months may enter without a visa. For those permitted to enter, all U.S. tourists, including felons, may travel freely from one Schengen area country to another without having to show their passport. They do not have to present their passport to be stamped again until they leave the Schengen area.

All U.S. citizens who have a valid passport may enter Spain for up to 90 days for personal or business reasons without a visa. They may travel into any of the 26 countries that participate in the Schengen Agreement.

In particular, the law in Spain states that travelers must have at least six valid months remaining on their passport when they enter the country.  Since Spain participates in the Schengen Agreement, you can stay in the country for less than 90 days.

Any U.S. citizen who stays more than 90 days will need a visa, which must be obtained prior to departing from the U.S. So, you will need to have a specific plan, one that will not require you to be in Spain over 90 days.

That way you will not need to have your criminal record checked, and you can be successful in your visit to Spain.

Steps to Take

After all of that, as long as you have a passport, you are free to go to Spain. Your trip will be on. You can climb the mountains in Spain, enjoy the food, and even take in a bullfight while you are there.

However, it is important to watch your step if you travel to Spain. Just being in a foreign country will draw attention to yourself.

You need to be on guard and make sure that you obey all laws while you are there. As a U.S. citizen, you will stand out as different from the general population in Spain. You will be observed as you travel about, so be prepared.

At the first sign of trouble, contact an attorney for legal help. You don’t want to enter the Spanish legal system. After all, you have had more than enough difficulties here. So, don’t be a statistic in Spain. Travel safely and be able to return to the U.S.

You will be glad you did. Being able to travel to a country like Spain is another step along the road to living an honest life.

You have made mistakes, but you don’t have to be defined by them. You are defined by how you recover from those mistakes.

So what do you think about this blog post about how a felon can travel to Spain? Have you or someone you know wanted to travel to Spain with a felony? What was that like and what happened? Please tell us in the comments below.

1 thought on “Can a Felon Travel to Spain?”

  1. This was very reassuring. Another web site to check is Registrant Travel Action Group for a list of countries who will not allow felons,


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