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NEWSLETTER

Closed borders: How can I travel in or from Spain right now?

Most regions in Spain have announced they will close their borders over the long All Saints’ weekend and keep the restrictions in place for longer. But are there exceptions? And what if you live in a region without restrictions and want to travel to another unaffected part of the country or abroad?

Closed borders: How can I travel in or from Spain right now?
Photo: AFP

Seven Spanish regions, including Madrid and Cataluña, announced on Wednesday and Thursday they would close their borders ahead of the All Saints' Day long weekend to try to curb the rapid rise of coronavirus infections in their territories.

That takes the total number of regions in Spain with closed borders to 12 – Andalucía, Asturias, Aragón, the Basque Country, Castilla y León, Cantabria, Castilla y La Mancha, Madrid, Murcia, Navarre, La Rioja and Cataluña, while Valencia is considering it (it already has smaller lockdowns in place).

The long All Saints’ Day weekend runs from Friday October 30th to Monday November 2nd, but most of these regions are expected to extend the restrictions on travel in and out of regional borders until later on in November.

Six regions have made November 2nd a public holiday as All Saints' Day falls on a Sunday this year: Madrid, ​Asturias, Aragón, ​Andalucía, Extremadura and ​Castilla y León.

Some of these regions were already applying travel restrictions, such as the Basque Country where there is even a travel lockdown between municipalities.

Madrid is currently defying the central government’s request for border restrictions to last for at least seven days by announcing it only plans to close borders for the All Saints’ long weekend and for the Almudena long weekend, another three-day break in the capital’s region the following weekend.


However, the regional governments of the Canary Islands, Extremadura and Galicia have decided not to adopt the measure and have no region-wide restrictions in place, meaning that their inhabitants can technically travel this long weekend.

The Balearic Islands and Valencia also don’t have full-regional travel restrictions in place yet, although in the case of the Valencia region this could change depending on Madrid’s policy, as authorities there fear a flood of Madrileños to the coast for their two ‘puentes’.

MAP: The regions in Spain with closed borders (click on map for more details)

Can I travel to or from a region in Spain with closed borders?

If it's for leisure or other non-essential reasons, you cannot. The only exceptions are:

  • To provide assistance at health centres.
  • For work or business reasons.
  • For reasons of study or to take official exams or tests that cannot be postponed.
  • To return to your usual place of residence after undertaking one of these essential activities.
  • To assist and care for the elderly, minors, dependents, people with disabilities or especially vulnerable people.
  • To travel to banks and insurance entities or petrol stations in neighbouring territories.
  • To attend urgent public, judicial or notarial matters.
  • To carry out the renewals of permits and official documentation, as well as other administrative procedures that cannot be postponed.
  • Due to force majeure or emergency situations.
  • Any other activity of a similar nature which is duly accredited. 

Can I travel through a region in Spain with closed borders?

Yes. According to article 6.3 of the October 25th Royal Decree which declared another state of emergency in Spain, “transit travel through regions with restrictions will be allowed”.

That means that if you live in Galicia and want to travel to Valencia, you can drive through Asturias – which has closed its borders – to get to your final destination.

This loophole doesn’t apply if either the region which you’re leaving or going to has a regional lockdown in place.

You will however need to show proof of where you’re staying.

If it’s for leisure, you will have to provide proof of where it is exactly that you’re staying, as there are local lockdowns in regions like Galicia and Extremadura even though they don’t have a full regional lockdown on travel.

This could be a hotel booking or the padrón or rent slip if you’re a resident there.

Can I travel from Spain to another country right now?

This depends on whether the region where you are in Spain has closed borders or not.

If you’re in a region in Spain with no restrictions, no justification will need to be provided, whereas if you’re flying from a region in Spain with closed borders, the trip can only be justified if it’s for work or health reasons.

If you’re in a part of Spain without closed borders but your flight leaves from a place that is (ie. you live in Valencia but fly from Barajas in Madrid) the same rules of transit will apply according to AENA, allowing you to reach your destination abroad.

On Wednesday, French President Emmanuel Macron announced that the country would return to a full lockdown (home confinement rather than closed borders) but you can still drive through France if you are leaving from a region in Spain which has no travel restrictions, as France's Schengen borders are still open. (Update: On Thursday the French government announced that it would test people arriving in France for Covid-19, without specifying if this applied to those in transit).

Check if there are other restrictions or measures in place from there onwards, such as the two weeks of quarantine for those heading to the United Kingdom. 

READ MORE: 

Member comments

  1. Thank you for this article – but still unclear. Does this mean as a Canadian citizen, living and studying in Madrid, I can fly over to the Canary Islands for a weekend as long as I do my PCR test within the 72 hour time period? I technically have work to do there (working on a real-estate project as part of my university capstone course but would also be great to get out of Madrid for a bit).

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COVID-19

Spain rules out EU’s advice on compulsory Covid-19 vaccination 

Spain’s Health Ministry said Thursday there will be no mandatory vaccination in the country following the European Commission’s advice to Member States to “think about it” and Germany’s announcement that it will make vaccines compulsory in February.

Spain rules out EU's advice on compulsory Covid-19 vaccination 
A Spanish man being vaccinated poses with a custom-made T-shirt showing Spain's chief epidimiologist Fernando Simón striking a 'Dirty Harry/Clint Eastwood' pose over the words "What part of keep a two-metre distance don't you understand?' Photo: José Jordan

Spain’s Health Minister Carolina Darias on Thursday told journalists Covid-19 vaccines will continue to be voluntary in Spain given the “very high awareness of the population” with regard to the benefits of vaccination.

This follows the words of European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen on Thursday, urging Member States to “think about mandatory vaccination” as more cases of the Omicron variant are detected across Europe. 

READ ALSO: Is Spain proving facts rather than force can convince the unvaccinated?

“I can understand that countries with low vaccine coverage are contemplating this and that Von der Leyen is considering opening up a debate, but in our country the situation is absolutely different,” Darias said at the press conference following her meeting with Spain’s Interterritorial Health Council.

According to the national health minister,  this was also “the general belief” of regional health leaders of each of Spain’s 17 autonomous communities she had just been in discussion with over Christmas Covid measures. 

READ MORE: Spain rules out new restrictions against Omicron variant

Almost 80 percent of Spain’s total population is fully vaccinated against Covid-19, a figure which is around 10 percent higher if looking at those who are eligible for the vaccine (over 12s). 

It has the highest vaccination rate among Europe’s most populous countries.

Germany announced tough new restrictions on Thursday in a bid to contain its fourth wave of Covid-19 aimed largely at the country’s unvaccinated people, with outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel speaking in favour of compulsory vaccinations, which the German parliament is due to vote on soon.

Austria has also already said it will make Covid-19 vaccines compulsory next February, Belgium is also considering it and Greece on Tuesday said it will make vaccination obligatory for those over 60.

But for Spain, strict Covid-19 vaccination rules have never been on the table, having said from the start that getting the Covid-19 jabs was voluntary. 

There’s also a huge legal implication to imposing such a rule which Spanish courts are unlikely to look on favourably. 

Stricter Covid restrictions and the country’s two states of alarm, the first resulting in a full national lockdown from March to May 2020, have both been deemed unconstitutional by Spain’s Constitutional Court. 

READ ALSO: Could Spain lock down its unvaccinated or make Covid vaccines compulsory?

The Covid-19 health pass to access indoor public spaces was also until recently consistently rejected by regional high courts for breaching fundamental rights, although judges have changed their stance favouring this Covid certificate over old Covid-19 restrictions that affect the whole population.

MAP: Which regions in Spain now require a Covid health pass for daily affairs?

“In Spain what we have to do is to continue vaccinating as we have done until now” Darias added. 

“Spaniards understand that vaccines are not only a right, they are an obligation because we protect others with them”.

What Spanish health authorities are still considering is whether to vaccinate their 5 to 11 year olds after the go-ahead from the European Medicines Agency, with regions such as Madrid claiming they will start vaccinating their young children in December despite there being no official confirmation from Spain’s Vaccine Committee yet.

READ MORE: Will Spain soon vaccinate its children under 12?

Spain’s infection rate continues to rise day by day, jumping 17 points up to 234 cases per 100,000 people on Thursday. There are now also five confirmed cases of the Omicron variant in the country, one through community transmission.

Hospital bed occupancy with Covid patients has also risen slightly nationwide to 3.3 percent, as has ICU Covid occupancy which now stands at 8.4 percent, but the Spanish government insists these figures are “almost three times lower” than during previous waves of the coronavirus pandemic.

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