The Immigration Law identifies a series of offences that foreign or Spanish citizens might commit and which could result in penalties being applied by the authorities. The severity of those penalties depends on the seriousness of the offence committed. The penalties that may be applied to foreigners are fines (multes) and deportation (expulsió) .

FINES may be applied to Spanish and foreign offenders alike. However, fines may be substituted for deportation in the case of foreign offenders. A fine may not be imposed together with deportation under any circumstances.

DEPORTATION is only envisaged in the case of a foreigner committing a serious or very serious offence. A deportation order involves the loss of any authorisation to remain in Spain and the application of a re-entry ban (prohibició d'entrada) which will not exceed 5 years (exceptionally up to 10 years if the foreign citizen is a threat to the public order or to the public security) covering all the states that are part of Schengen territory. Precautionary measures (mesures cautelars) may be applied to foreigners during deportation proceedings, including detaining them, ordering them to report to the authorities on a regular basis or confiscating their passport among other measures.

The implementation of a deportation order may be suspended if the person to be deported applies for asylum or is a pregnant woman whose life or health may be at risk if she is deported. Certain groups of foreigners may not be deported due to their personal or family connections with Spain; that applies to foreigners who are long-term residents or who were native Spanish citizens in the past but lost that status. During deportation proceedings, foreigners are entitled to request legal aid, which will be provided free of charge if they are unable to afford it, and the services of an interpreter (also free of charge) if they do not speak or understand the official language used.

It should be noted that deportation is not the same as the return of foreign nationals (devolució dels estrangers). Foreigners are returned to the country from which they came if they enter Spanish territory illegally (via places not intended for that purpose) or in breach of a re-entry ban applied at an earlier date. Free legal aid and the services of an interpreter are also available to foreigners involved in return proceedings.