Spain - Supreme Court (Contentious-Administrative Chamber), decision no. 1091/2020 (appeal no. 3661/2019)

The Supreme Court held that the initiation of the administrative procedure to recognise statelessness does not require the applicant to be in Spain. It is sufficient that he/she is at the border post. 

Case name (in original language)
TS (Sala de lo Contencioso-Administrativo, Seccióm 5ª), Sentencia núm.1091/2020
Case number
Date of decision
Court / UN Treaty Body
Spanish Supreme Court
Language(s) the decision is available in
Applicant's country of residence

The applicant is a student who lived in Cuba and comes from the refugee camp in Tindouf, Algeria. The applicant requested international protection at the border. UNHCR did not support granting protection. The applicant requested the re-examination of his application and alleged possible statelessness. UNHCR acknowledged that there was prima facie evidence of statelessness. However, the Spanish Administration denied the request for re-examination and did not analyse the claim of possible statelessness.

Decision & Reasoning

The court held that the proceeding to grant asylum or international protection differs from that of statelessness. Statelessness proceeding can be initiate ex officio. There is no specific mention to the place where the applicant must be. Mentions to domicile regarding notification are not meant to bar applications at the border. The court further found that this interpretation is aligned with the possibility of asking for interim residence permits when facing humanitarian reasons. Denying this type of applications would be contrary to the spirit of the 1954 Convention and the "profound interest" that the UN has vis-à-vis statelessness.


The Supreme Court found that stateless people were allowed to ask for protection at the border. They do not need to be in the Spain territory to begin the procedure.