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EUROPEAN UNION

Spain will allow EU travellers with vaccine passports to sidestep Covid tests and quarantines

Spain will allow EU citizens and residents to enter Spain without having to quarantine or present a negative Covid test if they instead show a “digital green certificate” or vaccine passport, ministry sources have confirmed. 

Tourists arriving in Spain
Photo: JAIME REINA / AFP

The EU has announced that its ‘Digital Green Certificates’ – also referred to as vaccine passports – will be ready by June, allowing tourists to travel more easily throughout the bloc, including to Spain. 

This would mean that travellers with the certificates would be able to enter Spain without having to produce a negative PCR test or quarantine, General secretary of Digital Health Alfredo González said on Thursday.

“It will allow for more people to arrive in a safer manner,” he said and “will facilitate the mobility of people in the European Union, guarantee public health protection and permit social and economic activity to resume free of charge”.

González explained that the certificates would be in a digital or paper format and feature a QR code, containing all the essential information on the traveller. 

The European Commission website, states that the Digital Green Certificates will have information on whether the traveller has been vaccinated or not, if they have received a negative test result or if they have recovered from Covid-19.

“This certificate is not a passport, it’s not a travel document, and it’s not a requirement for travel,” González continued.

“It will respect data protection, safety and privacy. It is designed not to be discriminatory, and that is one of the major advantages,” he explained, hoping that the certificates will give a boost to summer tourism in Spain.

He said that Spain has already started the process of implementing the certificate to be ready in time for June.  

Sources from Spain’s Tourism Ministry also showed their enthusiasm for the certificates when they told El País: “We are optimistic and with this certificate, we are taking a giant step”. 

The EU Commission has said that national authorities will be in charge of issuing the certificates. It has not been decided yet how those in Spain will get one, whether they will be issued by hospitals, test centres or health authorities.

“When travelling, every EU citizen or third-country national legally staying or residing in the EU, who holds a Digital Green Certificate, should be exempted from free movement restrictions in the same way as citizens from the visited Member State,” the commission stated on its website.

Due to the pandemic, Spain saw fewer than 20 million visitors last year, the worst year for tourism seen in the last 50 years. Authorities are hoping that with the help of the Digital Green Certificates, the country will see double that number of foreign visitors this year.

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TRAVEL NEWS

Spain has third most powerful passport in the world

Those with Spanish citizenship are in luck because their passports are the third most powerful in the world, meaning they can travel to many different countries without the need for a visa.

Spain has third most powerful passport in the world

If you want to go on a last-minute break, it’s really only possible to countries that don’t require you to apply for a visa beforehand or issue you with a visa upon arrival. 

The Henley Passport Index is based on data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and each year it reveals the number of destinations that passport holders from around the world can access without a prior visa.

The index includes 199 different passports and 227 different travel destinations and offers all kinds of information on global mobility, ultimately revealing which passports are the most powerful. 

Each country is scored on the total number of destinations that a holder of its passport can access without a visa. For each travel destination, if a visa is not required, they receive a score of one. This also applies if holders are able to obtain a visa on arrival, visitor permit or electronic travel authorisation (ETA) upon entry.

The rankings for 2023 show that Spain, along with Germany, is in joint third place, meaning that Spanish passport holders can visit a total of 191 countries without needing a visa.

READ ALSO: Why Spain is second favourite country for Americans to move to

In joint first place are Japan and Singapore whose passport holders can visit a total of 193 countries without requiring a visa.

They are closely followed by South Korea in second place, whose passport holders can visit a total of 192 countries.

After Spain and Germany, there are several European countries on the list. Those from Finland, Italy and Luxembourg come in fourth place, able to visit 189 destinations, while those from Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Sweden come in fifth place able to visit 188 destinations.

These are followed by passports from France, Ireland, Portugal and the United Kingdom in sixth place, allowing them to visit 188 countries without a visa.

According to the rankings, only 17 percent of countries give their passport holders access to more than 80 percent of the world without a visa.

The three countries with the least powerful passports are Afghanistan whose holders can only visit 27 countries without the need for a visa, Iraq with a score of 29 and Syria with a score of 30.

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