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Reader question: Can I travel to my second home in Spain?

There are millions of foreigners who own property in Spain who are currently wondering if they can travel here to spend time at their second home, keeping in mind the ongoing coronavirus travel rules. 

Reader question: Can I travel to my second home in Spain?
A woman walks with her suitcase in Barcelona. Photo: Luis Gené, Niklas Hallen/AFP

2022 UPDATE: For the latest Covid rules for foreigners with property in Spain, here is an updated version of this article with the latest info

*** The information below is not applicable in 2022.

The short answer to this doubt is that it depends where you’re flying from. 

If you’re an EU resident/national:

Spain has adopted measures in line with EU recommendations which means there are effectively no restrictions on those travellers arriving in Spain from EU/ EEA countries providing that those who travel from a country classified as a high risk country present a negative PCR , TMA or LAMP test in the 72 hours prior to your arrival, as well as having to fill in a health declaration form here

That means that French, German, Swedish and other EU nationals with property in Spain can visit the country as long as their own government’s don’t have rules in place that prevent travel to Spain. 

For example, Germany’s Robert Koch Institute disease control agency recently removed Mallorca and other parts of Spain from their list of coronavirus risk areas, leading Merkel’s government to allow its citizens with properties in the Valencia region, Castilla-La Mancha, Extremadura, La Rioja and Murcia to spend time in their Spanish homes. 

The Spanish government is also taking the approach over Easter of opening the doors fully to EU/EEA tourists, meaning that nationals from the bloc with property in Spain are being welcomed in, as long as they abide by Covid-19 regulations. 

UPDATE: What are the rules on travelling to Spain right now?

In Ireland’s case, travel abroad is only allowed for those with “reasonable excuses”, with the closest potential reason for Irish homeowners in Spain to be allowed to visit being “to meet a legal obligation”. UK rules allow its citizens to travel if they are going to “carry out activities related to buying, selling, letting or renting a residential property”, so this may be one of the property-related ‘legal obligations’ that allows Irish second homeowners to travel to Spain, as long as it’s true.

The Irish government states that it “may accept other reasonable excuses that are not on this list, you should have evidence of the reasons for your travel”, so contacting Irish consular services in Spain may be the best way to find out what property matter constitutes a “reasonable excuse”. 

If you’re in the UK: 

On March 23rd, the Spanish government announced it would lift travel restrictions for travellers from the UK who aren’t residents in Spain from March 30th, more than three months after a travel ban was imposed to stop the spread of new Covid strains.

This came just hours after the British government announced that as part of its new Covid regulations, people in the UK will be allowed to travel abroad to buy, rent, let out or sell a second home from March 29th.

So from March 30th, British non-resident homeowners in Spain can use foreign property-related matters as a “reasonable excuse” to travel here (more on this further down).

However, it’s important to remember that “under current UK COVID-19 restrictions, you must stay at home (or in Wales, stay local). It is illegal to travel abroad for holidays,” reads the UK government’s website. 

Boris Johnson’s government has said anyone caught breaking the rules on travel by going on holiday to Spain or elsewhere faces a fine of up to £5,000 (€5,800).

As things stand, gov.uk only states that property-related “reasonable excuses” are those that are “in connection with the purchase, sale, letting or rental of a residential property”.

On Tuesday March 23rd, The Guardian reported that an updated version of these rules is being prepared for overseas homes which will  “include visiting an estate agent, developer sales office or show home, viewing residential properties to rent or buy, and preparing a property for moving in”.

British news site inews.co.uk stated virtually the same – the legislation will give an exemption for “preparing a residential property to move in” or “to visit a residential property to undertake any activities required for the rental or sale of that property”. 

UK authorities will need to clarify whether flying abroad to check up on a property qualifies as a “reasonable excuse”, as many Brits have left their Spanish homes unattended for months. 

If travel to fix leaks, cut the grass, install a security alarm and anything else to do with the general upkeep of a property isn’t included as an exemption, it would mean that existing British homeowners could only come if they were to carry out a transaction or sign a lease, or the preparations for it.

It’s worth noting as well that the Spanish government is yet to confirm whether it will extend its restrictions on non-essential journeys from countries outside the EU and Schengen Area past March 31st, as despite the recent lifting of the travel ban on UK arrivals, this legislation would also affect Britons wishing to travel to Spain. 

We will keep you updated as soon as we have new information.  

As for UK nationals who are homeowners in Spain and residents, or who can prove their residency is in the process of being approved, travel to Spain will continue to be possible. 

However, as a resident you will be expected to travel to your main property in Spain. If your second home is in a different region in Spain, you will not be able to travel there until at least April 9th as all regional borders remain closed until then.

All travellers from the UK have to follow the latest coronavirus travel rules Spain has in place, in terms of providing a negative Covid test and filling in a health form. 

READ ALSO: British Embassy in Madrid publishes a list of alternative documents to prove residency

There are also a few ongoing reports and comments on forums (although considerably less than in January) that suggest that even Brits who are legal residents in Spain are facing difficulties in entering the country as border police on both sides are not always following the instructions on entry by Spanish and British authorities (namely not recognising the old green residency certificate which they have been repeatedly told is still valid, and only recognising the new TIE residency card).

If you’re in a non-EU country

Spain has extended its restrictions on non-essential journeys from countries outside the EU and Schengen Area to March 31st.

So unless you’re a Spanish national or Spanish resident, visiting your home in Spain from third countries such as the US or Canada will be very difficult for now. 

READ MORE: 

However, Spanish second home owners from some countries with low infection rates will be able to make the journey, including those from Australia, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, China (pending reciprocity) and the regions of Hong Kong and Macao.

The Spanish government has also extended its restrictions on flights from South Africa and Brazil until March 30th to contain the new strains of coronavirus in those countries, so people from these countries with property in Spain will not be able to come unless they are Spanish residents 

This requirement has also been extended to arrivals from another 10 countries: Colombia and Peru, where there is community transmission of the Brazilian strain; and Botswana, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe where there is transmission of the South African strain. 

Arrivals from all twelve of these countries “must remain in quarantine for 10 days after their arrival in Spain, or for the duration of their stay if it is shorter than that. This period may end earlier, if on the seventh day the person is tested for acute infection with negative results”.

If you’re in Spain already

After weeks of negotiations, Spain’s 17 regions agreed on March 10th to keep their regional borders closed to people based in Spain over the Semana Santa period, whilst allowing tourists to choose where they want to spend their holidays in Spain. As expected, it’s a controversial decision.

The country’s two archipelagos – the Canaries and the Balearics – were the only ones given some leeway initially, but since then the Atlantic islands have announced they’ll also close their borders to people from other parts of Spain (and even restrict non-essential travel between islands on level 3). The Balearics’ government, concerned about the influx of tourists arriving currently, are considering a similar move.

So if your second home in Spain is in another region from you’re usually based, you won’t be able to travel there unless you have an extuating reason to justify the journey. If your second home is in the same region but in a different province, island, comarca or town, it depends on the mobility restrictions that apply to that specific place

We will keep this page as updated as possible but if you wish to double-check information here is the Spanish government’s website on international travel requirements. Make sure to also check the rules on travelling to Spain from the country you are currently based in, or if you are in Spain already, double-check the restrictions in your municipality and province. 

Member comments

  1. I am confused: I am an American living in San Francisco who owns property in Costa del Sol, Spain, and haven’t been able to travel there because of Covid since we bought our second home in January 2020. We intend to become “habitual residents” but haven’t been able to do that yet. Can my partner/co-owner and I travel to Spain this coming April? We have both been vaccinated. Thank you,
    [email protected].

  2. Hi, I am a little lost, I am a French living in France and I would like to reach my second home in Murcia by car from France. Do I have the right to cross all regions (Catalonia, Valencia) to reach my residence?
    Thank you for your help

  3. Hi im currently in UAE working but am a Uk resident . I ve put my deposit down on a property in Ibiza and are ready to pay the next 30% but need to go to Ibiza. My lawyer is sorting NIE’s . What is the situation here. Could i fly to Madrid without having to quarantine and just produce a PCR from Dubai and then over to ibiza?

  4. If I live in the UK but am an Irish, EU citizen, with an Irish passport, can I travel to my second home in Spain from the UK now?

    Thanks

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For members

SECOND HOMES

Can I travel to my second home in Spain if I’m not vaccinated against Covid-19?

It's been a difficult two years for people who own second homes in Spain, with opportunities to check on them greatly reduced by Covid-19 travel restrictions. But with many rules now easing, which unvaccinated foreigners can visit their Spanish properties in 2022?

Can I travel to my second home in Spain if I'm not vaccinated against Covid-19?
Can unvaccinated people visit second home in Spain? Photo: Marvin Meyer / Unsplash

This article was updated on March 11th 2022.

Question: We own a property in Spain and we’re not vaccinated against Covid-19 – can we visit yet?

Although many health restrictions have been lifted across Spain, there are still travel restrictions in March 2022 which prevent some foreign second-home owners from being able to visit their Spanish properties.

Whether you can enter Spain or not depends on two things – your nationality/residency and whether you are fully vaccinated or recently recovered from Covid-19.

Unvaccinated second-home owners from the EU/EEA

EU citizens and residents with a second home in Spain and who haven’t been vaccinated against Covid-19 can still enter the country by presenting their Digital Covid Certificate, reflecting either Covid testing or recovery.

The Digital Covid Certificate shows one of three things – if you’ve been fully vaccinated, if you have a recent negative Covid-19 test or if you’ve recovered from Covid-19 in the last six months.

If your EU country isn’t on Spain’s risk list, then you don’t have to technically show proof of any of this, but currently and for some time now almost all EU/Schengen countries have remained on the risk list (you can check here for the latest weekly PDF update). 

In February 2022, Spanish authorities followed the EU’s recommendations to Member States and updated the country’s travel rules regarding Covid-19 health passes and required vaccinations.

The main change is that if you completed your initial Covid-19 vaccination more than 270 days ago (around 9 months), you will need to show you’ve had a Covid booster shot to be able to use vaccination as your means of entry. 

If you do not have your Digital Covid Certificate, the Spanish government will still allow you to enter if you can show either a vaccination, diagnostic or recovery certificate by the “competent authorities” in your country.

Covid-19 testing: Negative NAAT (PCR, LAMP, TMA or equivalent) and rapid antigen test types are accepted from unvaccinated arrivals from the EU/EEA. The NAAT or PCR test must be taken within 72 hours prior to travel to Spain, or if using an antigen test, it must have been taken within 24 hours prior to travel.

Recovery from Covid-19 – People who have recovered from the virus may show a certificate of a positive result of Covid-19. The date of recovery on the certificate must be at least 11 days and a maximum of 180 days from the date on which the Covid-19 test was performed. 

Please be aware that even if you’re travelling from within the EU, you must still fill out a health control form

You can use your Digital Covid Certificate if travelling from within the EU. Photo: Pau BARRENA / AFP

Unvaccinated second-home owners from third countries

Until recently, the rule was that if non-EU/Schengen visitors (including those with property in Spain) were not fully vaccinated, they could not enter Spain or spend time in their Spanish homes.

But in late February 2022, Spanish authorities eased this rule slightly so that visitors from third countries who have recovered from Covid-19 in the past six months can now visit Spain even if they haven’t been fully vaccinated against Covid.

This also applies to those whose full vaccination status has expired after 270 days because they haven’t had a booster shot, but who’ve had Covid in the last 180 days. 

However, unvaccinated non-EU/Schengen tourists who do not have a recovery certificate can still not enter Spain.

According to Spain’s Health Ministry, recovery certificates accepted as valid are those “issued at least 11 days after the first positive NAAT or rapid antigen test, and up to a maximum of 180 days after the date of sampling”.

NAATs – nucleic acid amplification tests – are usually PCR tests whereas RATs stand for rapid antigen tests. The Covid test must have been carried out by an accredited laboratory; self-test kits are not valid.

This latest change follows the decision in early February to allow unvaccinated non-EU/EEA minors aged 12 to 17 to visit Spain if they show a negative PCR test

However, unvaccinated third-country adults who don’t have proof of recovery would need to meet one of the following criteria to be allowed into Spain.

Owning property in Spain isn’t considered an essential reason for travel to Spain in the event that you can’t meet Spain’s Covid travel requirements.

  • Being a resident of a European Union country, Schengen country or Andorra, Monaco, The Vatican or San Marino.
  • Holders of a long-stay visa issued by a Member State or Schengen Associated State.
  • Health professionals, including health researchers, and elderly care professionals who are heading to or returning from their work activity.
  • Transportation personnel, seafarers and aeronautical personnel.
  • Diplomatic, consular, international organisations, military, civil protection and members of humanitarian organisations.
  • Students who carry out their studies in a Member State or Schengen Associated State and who have the corresponding permit or visa for long-term stay, providing entry occurs during the academic year or the 15 days prior.
  • Highly qualified workers whose work is necessary and cannot be postponed or carried out remotely, including participants in high-level sports events that take place in Spain.
  • Duly accredited people travelling for imperative family reasons. People who document reasons of force majeure or situation of need, or whose entry is allowed for humanitarian reasons.

One other ‘loophole’ is if you’re travelling from one of the countries on Spain’s list of epidemiologically safe third countries. Even if you are unvaccinated, you will not have to show a negative Covid-19 test, proof of vaccination or recovery certificate at the border.

This list changes frequently however and includes very few countries, so make sure to check the list here before you travel.

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