Citizens of most EU member states, as well as Switzerland, can travel to the Canary Islands with just their national identity card. UK nationals – and all other nationalities – must have a full valid passport.
Check that your passport’s expiry date is at least six months away, otherwise you may not be granted a visa, should you need one.
By law you are supposed to have your identity card or passport with you at all times in the Canaries, in case the police ask to see it. In practice, this is unlikely to cause trouble. You might want to carry a photocopy of your documentation instead of the real thing. You will need to flash one of these documents (the original, not the photocopy) for registration when you take a hotel room.
Although the Canary Islands are part of Spain, for customs purposes they are not considered part of the EU. For this reason, allowances are much less generous than for goods bought within EU countries. You are allowed to bring in or take out, duty free, a maximum of the following items:
Generally not required for stays of up to 90 days; some nationalities will need a Schengen visa.
Spain is one of the 26 member countries of the Schengen Convention, under which 22 EU countries (all but Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania and the UK) plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland have abolished checks at common borders.
The visa situation for entering Spain is as follows:
Citizens or residents of EU & Schengen countries No visa required.
Citizens or residents of Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, NZ and the US No visa required for tourist visits of up to 90 days.
Other countries Check with a Spanish embassy or consulate.
To work or study in Spain A special visa may be required – contact a Spanish embassy or consulate before travel.
Schengen visas are valid for 90 days and cannot be extended. Nationals of EU countries, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland can enter and leave the archipelago at will and don’t need to apply for a tarjeta de residencia (residence card), although they are supposed to apply for residence papers if they are staying for longer than 90 days.
People of other nationalities who want to stay in Spain longer than 90 days have to get a residence card, and for them it can be a drawn-out process, starting with an appropriate visa issued by a Spanish consulate in their country of residence. Start the process well in advance.