The Golden Ticket:
Certificado de Viajes for
North Americans in the Canary Islands
What is the Canary Island Resident Discount?
Residents of the Canary Islands are eligible for a 75% discount on domestic boat and air travel between the Canary Islands and to mainland Spain.
Are North Americans Eligible for the
Canary Island Resident Discount?
There are some questions in life that no one seems to have the answers to.
What is true happiness?
Do aliens exist?
Are North Americans eligible for island resident discounts in Spain?
The answers are, of course: 1) Pachichi’s papas con mojo 🥔, 2) duh 👽 and 3) maybe 🤷.
There are those that have waltzed into their local ayuntamiento and samba’d out with their certificado de viajes, free to hop aboard any Fred Olsen and explore the seven wonders of the seven islands at a delicious 75% discount… And then there are those that are denied.
The most promising info I’ve seen published in our favor comes from the RyanAir and Norwegian Air websites, which have this to say about the discounts:
“Non-EU national holders of long-term residence permit: A valid Certificate of Residence along with the valid residence card indicating his/her condition of long-term residence in force.” Sound good, right? Well…
If you’re here on a student visa (as an auxiliar de conversación, for example) you’re not technically considered a resident, long term or otherwise. Your visa grants you estancia de estudios, not residencia.
On top of that, I’ve seen the same list posted above on various town hall websites and on other airlines sans the last line about eligibility for non-EU nationals, sooooo… let’s just say that like a Tinder date, nothing is guaranteed.
Let’s face it. There’s a good chance we’re not really meant to get these discounts.
But I’m a contributing member of society. I enrich young minds and recycle, I turn off the tap when I brush my teeth and I pick up 3 pieces of trash every time I go to the beach. I also pay my taxes (in Spain & the US, no less!), pay my insanely expensive autónomo monthly fees and I’ll be d*mned if I´m not gonna try for the discount.
Many have slipped through the cracks, and I absolutely recommend that you give it a shot. Never try, never know!
How to Get the Canary Island Resident Discount
First off, you must have your NIE and TIE sorted and empadron yourself at the local ayuntamiento (town hall) before you can even think about the Certificado de Viajes, so get on that as soon as you arrive.
- A valid, unexpired TIE (Spanish foreigner ID card)
- A Certificado de Empadronamiento (Certificate of Residence) with a Canary Islands address
In theory, the process is a piece of cake:
Applying online is your best bet and should be attempted first. This is available for those living in Las Palmas de GC and a few other towns throughout the islands.
- Check the website for your local town hall (the ayuntamiento where you did your empadronamiento) to find out if they offer the service on the site.
- If so, boom! Fill out your info and your Certificado de Viajes should be ready to print. You go, Glenn Coco! 🔥 (But read til the end. Sometimes this isn’t enough.)
Apply In Person
If your town hall doesn’t offer the service online, you’ll have to take your chances in person.
- Make an appointment at the town hall where you are empadronado.
- Bring your TIE, Certificado de Empadronamiento and Carta de Nombramiento.
- Hope for the best. If you’re approved, they will usually print out the certificate and give it to you on the same day.
- If you’re denied, don’t give up. Try popping in another day and see if you can catch a different funcionario.
Region Specific Experience
I can only speak from personal experience about Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and Santa Cruz de Tenerife. If you have firsthand experience or advice for any other regions or townhalls, share them in the comments below!
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
Las Palmas offers the service online and it takes about five seconds.
- Click this link from the Ayuntamiento website
- Fill out the required fields
- Click “Obtener Certificado”
Y ya está. You are now free to roam about the islands.
Sorry Santa Cruz, Las Palmas definitely wins this one.
Santa Cruz de Tenerife
In Santa Cruz you have to apply in person at the town hall, and Americans have a slim-to-none chance of approval.
I knew two American auxiliares who were granted the golden ticket back in 2014, but since then everyone I know whose tried (including me) has been denied.
If at first you don’t succeed, come back and find a different funcionario! But go in with the mindset that you’ll prob be denied, then ya won’t be too dissapointed.
According to a 2016/2017 auxiliar in La Gomera, he had no trouble getting the Certificado de Viajes at his town hall in Alejeró (in the south). His friend, on the other hand was denied at the ayuntamiento in the capital, San Sebastián de la Gomera.
2017/2018 auxiliar Maria said that she had no problem getting the Certificado de Viajes in La Palma. But she’s also is negotiations about mating her lady goats with the macho of the lady in her town hall, so I think we can all agree that this may be a unique situation 🐐. PS, how cute are goats?? Because OMG 😍
Booking Your Discounted Travel
When searching for flights or ferries online, there will be an option on the search page for discounts. Select “Island Resident Discount” and the fares shown will already reflect the discounted rates.
Once you enter your booking and payment information, you may get a pop up warning saying that you haven’t been found in the database for the Resident Discount. Select “try again” and it will try up to three times. Your booking should go through regardless, but you’ll need to bring your proof of residency with you for check-in.
Travelling with the Canary Island Resident Discount
To board a flight or ferry, you must bring:
- A valid, unexpired NIE
- A printed copy of your Certificado de Viajes
- (Recommended) a printed copy of your Certificate of Residence (Certificado de empadronamiento)
I’ve heard of people who were denied the Certificado de Viajes but have successfully boarded flights and ferries with just their NIE and Certificado de Padron. Feeling brave?
Cracking Down: What Happens if You’re Denied the Canary Island Resident Discount
As of 2018, it seems that many local companies are cracking down on allowing North Americans to travel with the resident discount, possibly because the discounts have recently increased from 50% to 75%.
Travelling By Ferry
I’ve heard of auxiliares who’ve been stopped boarding both Fred Olsen and Armas ferries, even though they had their Certificado de Viajes. They were told that their TIEs reflected a short term stay as opposed to long term residence, and were therefore not eligible. In all cases, they were required to pay the price difference. Prices are higher the day-of travel, and higher purchasing in person as opposed to online, and these sad sacks had to pay this maximum price to board.
While plenty have passed through unscathed, it seems to me that ferry companies are cracking down. Fred Olsen has a reputation for being stricter than Armas.
Travelling By Air
Another auxiliar was stopped by Binter staff while boarding a flight in Fuerteventura in March 2018. He was told that he was uneligible for the discount, but after some persuading was let through since it was a return flight and he had been permitted to board the first flight from Las Palmas.
The Binter and Iberia websites both state that if you are not able to show the right to travel with the discount that you will be denied boarding. Ouch. Have I heard of that happening? Nope. Does it make me hella nervous when I fly? You betcha.
As of yet, I haven’t heard any horror stories from people travelling to the mainland.
More Confused Than Ever?
Welcome to Spanish bureaucracy! This is just the beginning of a confusing labyrinth of many possible papaleo complications. BUT it rarely dips below 20° and cañas cost a buck, so who are we to complain?
Do You Have the Golden Ticket?
If you’re a non-EU reader who has succeeded in getting the Certificado de Viajes, we’d love to hear about your experience! Please post in the comments below to help out the next generation of Ameri-Canarians 😊