EXPLAINED: What are the new rules for travel to Spain for all international travellers?

There are several new changes to Spain's entry rules, Digital Covid Certificates are now in effect and several new destinations have been added to the list of high-risk EU countries. Here's everything you need to know.

EXPLAINED: What are the new rules for travel to Spain for all international travellers?
What are the requirements to enter Spain? Photo: JAIME REINA / AFP

Spain has now started to accept the EU’s Digital Covid Certificates and several EU/EEA countries have also been reclassified as high risk. 

All international travellers have to fill in a health control form on the Spain Travel Health website or app before flying to Spain.

Those entering from an EU or EEA country

Spain started accepting the EU’s Digital Covid Certificates from July 1st, which will is making it a lot easier to prove entry requirements into member state countries. 

Passengers with a Digital Covid Certificate, as well as all travellers coming from countries not considered at risk, will be able to get a ‘FAST CONTROL QR code’ after completing the health control form before their departure. 

The ‘FAST CONTROL QR code’ gives access to faster health checks, as passengers will not have to show the certificate either at boarding or at the health check on arrival.

The Digital Covid Certificates prove that a person has been vaccinated against Covid-19, has recovered from Covid-19 or has a negative test. 

READ ALSO: EU Covid certificate: What are the different entry rules in place around Europe? 

Spain reclassified several EU/EEA countries as high risk, which came into effect on July 19th. Those EU countries currently on the high-risk list currently include Belgium, Cyprus, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, the Netherlands, Portugal and Sweden. There are exceptions for those from certain regions within those countries. See the full list here

Travellers entering from the EU or EEA countries classified as high risk will need to show one of three things to be able to enter Spain. These include:

  • A Certificate of vaccination

Your vaccine certificate must be issued by the authorities in your country of origin, 14 days or more after the date of administration of the last dose of the vaccine. The certificate should include at least the following information:

  1. Name and surname of the vaccinated person
  2. Date of vaccination, stating the date of the last dose administered
  3. Type of vaccine administered
  4. Number of doses administered/complete schedule
  5. Issuing country
  6. Identification of the institution issuing the vaccination certificate
  • A negative Covid-19 test

Travellers can show proof of a negative PCR or PCR-like test, but now they can also show negative antigen test too. This means that now travellers don’t have to pay so much for the PCR test and can opt for the cheaper antigen one instead. This must be carried out within 48 hours before travel in the case of PCRs and antigen tests.

Where tests are required, the cut-off age for children is now 12.

READ ALSO: What you should know before getting an antigen test for travel to and from Spain

  • Certificate of recovery from Covid-19

Even if you haven’t been vaccinated yet, you can still show that you have recovered from Covid-19. The Spanish authorities state: “The certificate must be issued by the competent authority or a medical service at least 11 days after the first NAATtype diagnostic test (PCR, TMA, LAMP or similar) with a positive result”. The validity of the certificate expires 180 days from the date of your negative test. The certificate should include the following information:

1.Name and surname of the holder
2. Date of sampling of the first positive diagnostic test for SARS-CoV-2
3. Type of NAAT test performed
4. Issuing country

READ ALSO: Reader question: How do I prove I have recovered from Covid in Spain?

All of these certificates must either be in English, Spanish, French or German.

Travellers from outside the EU/EEA

Spain allows non-EU/EAA people who have been fully immunised 14 days or more before travel with vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency or by the World Health Organisation.

Unvaccinated non-EU/EEA travellers have to prove duly accredited reasons such as being students, health or diplomatic staff, hold a long-term Schengen visa and other imperative reasons that are listed here. They also have to provide a negative NAAT test (PCR, TMA, LAMP or NEAR) taken within 72 hours before travel to Spain.

“All third-country nationals, even if they belong to one of the listed categories, who, after verification by the health authorities, do not meet the health control requirements for COVID-19 established by the Ministry of Health, will be subjected to denial of entry for public health reasons,” reads Spain’s Health Ministry website.

There is also a list of third countries that are exempt from having to show proof of vaccination or testing to visit Spain.

Currently, these are Albania, Saudi Arabia, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brunei, Canada, China (as well as Hong Kong and Macau), Israel, Japan, Jordan, Lebanon, Montenegro, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Moldova, Qatar, Rwanda, Serbia, Singapore, Switzerland, Thailand and the United States of America. 

All international travellers, regardless of the country, have to fill in Spain’s health control form

Travellers from the UK

As of July 2nd, arrivals to Spain from the United Kingdom have had to provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test or proof that they have been fully vaccinated. 

Previously, travellers from the UK were allowed to enter Spain without the need for a negative test or a vaccination certificate, however on June 29th Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, announced that this would change, given the rising infection rates in the UK and dominant Delta variant.

Those who have been fully vaccinated will need to show a vaccination certificate (either electronically or in print) dated at least 14 days from the last vaccination dose. 

Alternatively, a negative COVID-19 test result can be shown (NAAT type, e.g TMA, PCR, LAMP & NEAR) issued within 48 hours of arrival into Spain. Antigen tests will not be accepted.

Children under 12 years old are exempt from the requirement to present a negative PCR or vaccination certificate when travelling with an adult.

Can I enter if I’ve been inoculated with any Covid-19 vaccine?

Spain currently only accepts vaccine proof from those who have been inoculated with those Covid-19 vaccines authorised by the European Medicines Agency or those that have completed the World Health Organisation’s emergency use process. 

READ ALSO: Which Covid vaccines does Spain accept for international tourists to visit?

Do I need to show any other documentation in regards to Covid-19?

Yes, the Spanish authorities state: “Regardless of your country of origin, all passengers arriving in Spain by air or sea, including those in transit and children under 6 years of age, must complete a health control form before their departure”.

You can find the health control form here or the Spain Travel Health app. When you fill in the form, a QR code will be generated, which you must show before boarding your transportation and upon arrival at the border checks in Spain. Find out more about the health control form here

Are there any other health checks?

Yes, upon arrival in Spain, you may still have to undergo temperature checks, as well as other physical checks if you if appear unwell. 

Are there any countries that travellers are still banned from?

On August 3rd, Spain lifted its travel ban for arrivals from South Africa and Brazil, in place since February 2nd. 

Is there any quarantine period?

Not anymore. Spain on Monday August 23rd lifted the ten-day quarantine requirement for travellers arriving from Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Namibia and South Africa, who will now have to meet the same requirements that apply to most other non-EU arrivals (vaccination, testing). India was removed from the quarantine list in late July. 

As things stand, Spain is a quarantine-free country for all international arrivals.

READ ALSO: Spain’s fifth Covid wave – What are the new restrictions in each region this summer?

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Spain to allow unvaccinated non-EU tourists to enter ‘in matter of days’

Spain’s Tourism Minister on Thursday announced that “in a matter of days” unvaccinated third-country nationals such as Britons and Americans will be able to travel to Spain for a holiday with proof of a negative Covid-19 test. 

Spain to allow unvaccinated non-EU tourists to enter 'in matter of days'

Spanish Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto on Thursday May 19th confirmed that it won’t be long before unvaccinated non-EU/Schengen nationals will be allowed to travel to Spain for non-essential reasons such as tourism, visiting friends or family or spending time in a second home in Spain. 

“It’s a matter of days before we eliminate a restriction that could be discouraging tourists from outside the European Union from visiting us,” Reyes told Spanish radio station Onda Cero.

“And that is that we are going to stop requiring the vaccination certificate and allow them to enter with a negative test”. 

Maroto then stated that this would have to be a PDIA test, which in Spain refers to both PCR and antigen tests. If it’s a negative PCR or similar test (NAAT-type test) it must have been issued less than 72 hours prior to arrival in Spain, or if it’s a negative antigen test, less than 24 hours before arriving in Spain.

The surprise announcement comes just days after Spanish health authorities decided to extend the ban on non-essential travel for unvaccinated non-EU holidaymakers until June 15th

Spain’s current Covid-19 travel restrictions only allow in third-country tourists such as Britons, Americans or Indians who have been fully vaccinated (including a booster shot if initial vaccination was more than nine months before travel) and those who have recovered from Covid-19 in the past six months. 

But for practically the entirety of the pandemic, unvaccinated non-EU tourists have been unable to travel to Spain, with only exceptional reasons for travel allowed. 

Reyes’ comments came about when asked by the Onda Cero interviewer when all of Spain’s Covid-19 travel restrictions will be lifted, as there are still other measures in places such as mask wearing on public transport (including planes) and proof of vaccination, testing or recovery.

“There’s a degree of safety with travel that we have to preserve. We’re still co-existing with the pandemic but that doesn’t mean that we haven’t been gradually lifting restrictions,” Maroto argued.

The minister spoke of allowing unvaccinated non-EU holidaymakers in soon as being another way of boosting the country’s recovering tourism industry, adding that her ministry was putting the finishing touches to the legislation, which will be approved in the coming days. 

A number of EU/Schengen countries have already lifted all their Covid-19 travel restrictions, including Greece and Austria most recently, as well as Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Sweden and Switzerland.

Other countries such as France and Italy, Spain’s competitors in the tourism stakes, have also already allowed unvaccinated third-country tourists in with proof of a negative Covid-19 test for more than a month now.