Guide to Spain’s travel rules: what are the entry requirements for foreign tourists?

Here is an overview of the current restrictions on visitors coming from the European Union, the United Kingdom and the rest of the world

Hugo Gutiérrez
Travelers in Palma de Mallorca on June 13.
Travelers in Palma de Mallorca on June 13.CATI CLADERA (EFE)

The summer season has arrived and Spain is hoping for an influx of foreign visitors to revitalize its struggling tourism and hospitality sectors. While an uptick in domestic travel is helping, businesses know that the numbers will only add up when the international visitors show up.

Turistas británicos llegan al aeropuerto de Palma de Mallorca el pasado 1 de julio
Guide to the EU’s Digital Covid Certificate system: how to apply and what can it be used for

Due to coronavirus measures in place, the options for travel to Spain will depend on the reasons for the trip (whether it’s for an essential purpose or for leisure), on the country of origin (part of the European Union or not) and on the visitor’s vaccination status.

But the differences in international mobility will most particularly depend on the visitor’s place of origin. Travel within the EU will be aided by the Digital Covid Certificate, which has been approved for use from July 1 and which Spain is already issuing.

Provided below are the answers to a few common questions about travel to Spain in the coming months.

Are there any restrictions on travel within the EU?

Movement within the EU is allowed, and the access requirements are the same across the territory. To ensure this, Brussels has developed a system known as the Digital Covid Certificate or Digital Green Pass (or more popularly as the vaccine passport), which lets bearers easily prove that they meet the conditions for entering another member state: either being fully vaccinated (the last dose must have been administered at least 14 days before travel), or having recovered from Covid-19, or being in possession of a negative diagnostic test (either PCR or antigen) taken 48 hours before arrival. This certificate is issued by national authorities in the national language and in English, and can be used in all member states.

Depending on the epidemiological situation, travelers from some parts of Europe will not be required to show evidence of vaccination, testing or recovery. These are the areas marked green in the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control’s traffic light system.

Are there non-EU countries whose residents may travel restriction-free?

There is a list of countries and special regions whose residents are not affected by the temporary restriction on non-essential travel to the EU due to their good control of the pandemic. They are Albania, Australia, South Korea, United States, Israel, Japan, Lebanon, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Rwanda, Serbia, Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan, China and the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macao (subject to the principle of reciprocity). Visitors from these parts of the world will not be asked for proof of testing, vaccination or recovery. The United Kingdom was on this list as well, but this is changing on Friday due to a spike in infections in recent weeks.

What are the requirements for UK residents?

Starting on Friday, Spain will demand a negative diagnostic test (”NAAT type, e.g TMA, PCR, LAMP & NEAR,” not antigen tests) or proof of full vaccination from UK travelers, due to concerns over the delta variant of the coronavirus. These test results must have been issued within 48 hours of arrival into Spain. (Full information is available here at the gov.uk website.)

Is leisure travel to Spain from other non-EU countries allowed?

Visitors from other non-EU countries coming to Spain for leisure purposes must show proof of vaccination with one of the vaccines authorized by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) or the World Health Organization (WHO), with the second dose administered at least 14 days before travel. Non-vaccinated travelers will not be allowed into Spain for tourism, even if they have a negative diagnostic test or have recovered from Covid-19, or if they received a vaccine that has not been approved by the EMA or WHO.

What about children who are not being vaccinated yet?

Children under 12 traveling with an adult who has been immunized with an EMA or WHO-approved vaccine may freely enter Spain.

Are there any exceptions?

Yes. The Spanish government may leave out countries where new coronavirus variants pose a health risk. This is already happening with India, whose residents may not come to Spain on tourism even if they have been fully vaccinated. In practice, leisure trips from Brazil and South Africa are also off-limits since only flights carrying Spanish or Andorran nationals (or passengers in transit) are allowed into the country.

Are any additional documents necessary?

Yes. Regardless of the country of origin, travelers coming in by air or sea, including those in transit and children under 12, must fill out a health form available on www.spth.gob.es or via the mobile app Spain Travel Health. This will generate a QR code that must be shown before departure and at arrival.

English version by Susana Urra.

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