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Having a Criminal Record and Spain's ETIAS Entry Check

The majority of the time, minor criminal convictions do not bar entry into Spain.

However, November 2023 will see the launch of ETIAS for Spain. It will become a prerequisite for admission for nationals of countries who enjoy visa-free entry to Spain and the Schengen area.

Before traveling to Spain, visitors and business travelers from nations including the United States, Australia, and Japan will have to register online for ETIAS Spain.

ETIAS will ensure that the individuals who represent a threat can be kept out of Spain and the rest of the Schengen area by conducting pre-screening on passengers.

Following Brexit, criminal background checks will also be required for UK citizens traveling to Spain.

At the moment, foreigners from countries without visa requirements can enter Spain and other Schengen countries with just a valid passport. Pre-departure background checks will be necessary once ETIAS is in place.

Find out whether an applicant with a criminal record can apply for Spain ETIAS or not below.

How does ETIAS Look Up Criminal History

Visitors from foreign countries will be subject to more scrutiny after the launch of the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) in November 2023. 

Information kept in the following databases will be used to search for grave security issues and to look up the criminal history of travelers visiting Spain:

  • Data from the Schengen Information System (SIS)
  • Interpol and Europol
  • Information System for Visas

The identities of UN war criminals and anyone else who has committed or likely to commit terrorism offenses or other serious crimes will also be included on the ETIAS watchlist.

If any of these systems return a hit, ETIAS units in Spain will manually analyze the application before making a judgment.

A person who is refused ETIAS because of prior indictments could be permitted to enter Spain with a visa. In such cases, the Spanish embassy is the place to submit visa requests.

The information given by applicants for Spain ETIAS authorization will be cross-checked against information maintained by Europol.

Europol maintains records of people who are suspected of committing or participating in criminal offenses.

ETIAS will also conduct background checks on visitors who have been found guilty of grave offenses. It will also check the background of those traveling to Spain about whom there are factual indicators or reasonable grounds to assume that they will commit such offenses.

Aside from managing the ETIAS watchlist in the Europol data, Europol is also engaged in the definition of the ETIAS screening rules. 

ETIAS National Units will consult Europol when investigating a hit that may occur via the automated processing of an ETIAS system using data stored by Europol.

How Are Criminal Records Identified in the EU? 

There will be criminal record inquiries on the Spain ETIAS application. Criminal history questions on the ETIAS form have not yet been finalized. Closer to the ETIAS launch in November 2023, more details will be accessible.

Foreign nationals who are qualified to apply for Spain ETIAS will have to fill out a brief online form. Applications will include a section on basic personal data and passport information. 

The traveler's criminal history will be another section for security queries.

Criminal history details will need to be disclosed. Since applications will be reviewed against security databases, false information will likely be exposed. Hence it will be crucial to supply the correct information on the form.

Currently, authorities in Spain are worried about terrorism and other major crimes. By conducting background checks on travelers who are exempt from the requirement to apply for a visa, ETIAS will improve border security.

Additional Information

Criminal history, both for Small and Major Offenses

It is doubtful that minor criminal convictions will result in refusal for Spain ETIAS. Tourists with a criminal history for a non-serious offense may apply for Spain ETIAS. Most likely, they will be granted a visa waiver.

Additionally, applicants need to disclose whether they have ever been expelled from the EU or Schengen country. It is important to include information concerning the crime, such as the time and place it occurred.

Criminal Record Inquiries on the Spain ETIAS Application 

Data from international security databases will cross-check the information provided by applicants on the ETIAS application form for Spain.

The European Criminal Records Information System for Third Country Nationals (ECRIS-TCN) will be the most crucial for criminal record checks. Information on foreign nationals with criminal histories in the EU will be kept in the database. 

The new system would make it simpler for Spanish authorities to locate foreign nationals who have criminal records. 

Usually, multiple entries to Spain and other countries in the Schengen Area are permitted with an ETIAS Visa Waiver. The permit may, however, be canceled if a crime is committed following the approval of the ETIAS for Spain or if new information becomes available.

The visa waiver could be revoked if a new alert is added to one of the ETIAS security systems. In such a case, the permit could not be used to travel to Spain without a visa in the future.

Border Screenings when Entering Spain 

To enter Spain or any other country in the Schengen region without a visa, ETIAS will be required. The majority of travelers will be able to pass the border without any incident if they have an authorized visa waiver and a valid passport.

Keep in mind that ETIAS does not ensure entry to Spain. Border guards have the final say on whether to permit a foreign national to enter Spain.

Generally, ETIAS for Spain will apply to the entire Schengen region. Moreover, Spain ETIAS holders will typically be exempt from additional border inspections after passing through the external Schengen border.

Can A Traveler with A Serious Criminal History Apply for Spain ETIAS? 

The EU has made it very clear that only those guilty of major crimes or acts of terrorism will have their ETIAS visa waiver request denied.

Criminal convictions for terrorism, murder, or drug trafficking make it unlikely that such visitors will be eligible for Spain ETIAS.

Even for brief trips, it may be difficult for travelers who have committed grave crimes to enter Spain. Entry may be denied to those who have served more than three years in prison or who have received sentences of more than two years for narcotics or human trafficking offenses.

It should be noted that the border control agent typically has the ultimate say over admission to Spain. Therefore, it is important to respond politely and truthfully to any inquiries regarding criminal history.

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