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TRAVEL NEWS

The most common problems with the Spain Travel Health app and some potential solutions

The official government website or app which travellers flying to Spain have to download their health control form and QR code from before travel reportedly has bugs, poor design and bad translations that is confusing to international users. 

spain health travel app problems
International travellers looking to fly to Spain are experiencing problems with the Spain Travel Health app in particular. Photo: Jan Vašek/Pixabay

Spain launched its digital travel health platform in 2020 as travel started to reopen after months of lockdowns and restrictions in the early months of the pandemic. 

Since then, anyone travelling to Spain (or in transit through Spain) has to visit either the Spain Travel Health website (abbreviated as SpTH) or download the app to fill in a health control form which has a QR code that includes all their important health and contact details.

This is compulsory for all international travellers regardless of age, although it doesn’t apply to internal flights within Spain, and should only be completed in the 48 hours prior to travel.  

Spain adapted its travel rules on June 7th to allow vaccinated travellers from outside the EU/EEA to visit, as well as allowing cheaper antigen tests rather than just PCRs for EU travellers, among other eased restrictions. 

FIND OUT MORE: What are the new rules for travel to Spain for all international travellers?

Vaccination and recovery certificates for EU travellers can now be converted into a health passport for travel with a QR through the Spain Travel Health website or app. If you come from an EU risk country/area (practically all of the EU currently), SpTH states that you must also bring with you either an EU Digital COVID Certificate issued by a member state of the European Union and it may be accompanied by a vaccination, recovery or test certificate.

For other travellers from non-EU/EEA countries, one of those accompanying documents “issued by a competent authority” must be shown to airport health control staff along with the SpTH QR code.

But now that Spain’s borders are effectively open, an increasing number of travellers to Spain are noticing bugs and strange wording that are making it hard for them to get the QR code for travel to Spain.

A quick check on the reviews section of the iOS and Android apps and it’s clear that some of the problems are recurring. 

“Crashes and won’t open”, “wasted time”, “poor design” “misleading English translation” and “doesn’t save user data” were some of the recurring complaints.

Examples of these odd ‘Google’ translations include translating “Países de riesgo” as “Countries at Risk” rather than “Risk Countries” and “sanitario” as “sanitary” rather than “health”.  

spain travel health app problems

“So frustrating that after 30 min of process filling up forms etc, the QR code is NOT generated. The app remains spinning,” wrote one disgruntled user.

Another user suggested time-saving improvements such as including a box to autofill addresses when families are travelling together to save time filling in addresses, and also adding a box to tick if the traveller is a resident.

Numerous Android users mentioned that when minimising app to use another mobile feature, the data already typed in disappears.

spain travel health app problems

There were some positive reviews which praised the application, but overall it’s fair to say it’s received mostly negative comments.

It’s worth noting that in mid-July 2021 the Spanish government renewed its contract with Atos, the company behind the Spain Travel Health platform, with promises of an improved user experience which will hopefully solve some of the issues listed in this article. 

But as of July 21st 2021, the majority of the most recent app user comments continue to be negative.

problems spain travel health app

“Don’t do it on the app, do it on the website instead,” several users wrote. 

That may be good advice although unlike the Spain Travel Health app, the website doesn’t have a comment/review section. 

Our research led us to the following document by Spain’s Foreign Ministry – written only in Spanish – which addresses some of the problems that are arising and how they reportedly can be fixed. 

For other queries they suggest emailing them at [email protected] and you should specify if it is related to the website or app. If it is related to an “error” message, try to include a screenshot of the message you got. 

Spanish health authorities say that if the online process doesn’t work you shouldn’t worry, as until September you’ll be able to fill in the form on paper and your airline should provide you with the relevant forms, and if not, they will be available on arrival to Spain. 

Once completed, it will be scanned and included in the Spain Travel Health database, reads the document. 

Here are the potential solutions to common problems with the Spth app and website that Spanish authorities have provided.

Not receiving email or QR code

If you don’t receive the confirmation email or QR code a few minutes after validating the health control form, Spanish authorities recommend first checking your spam folder and looking for an email from : [email protected]

I want to continue filling in a form or retrieve a QR code

Spain’s Health Ministry recommends you go to the first email they sent you. Then visit their homepage and click on “Continue FCS form” or “Retrieve QR”. You will be asked to use the identification form and the security code that they sent you in the first email.

When you select “Retrieve QR”, the QR code will be sent back to the same email address you provided when you created the form.

I made a mistake when writing my email address or I can’t find the SpTH email

If you provided an incorrect email address, you will need to start a new one using a different valid personal identification number (passport, national ID number, driver’s license, …) If you used your passport number in the above you can now create a new form using your ID number or your driver’s license number (if it is longer than 12 characters, just use the 12).

I misspelled my name or surname

“Don’t worry;” say Spanish authorities. “If everything else is fine and you have your QR code, you can use it, even with an error in the name. Just keep in mind that we could contact you using that name. You can also correct it by creating a new form, as indicated in the previous point.

I cannot save and go to another section of the form:

If you cannot move to a new section, check that you are filling in all the fields required that are indicated with an asterisk * at the end of each box.

I got my flight number wrong or the number has been changed 

If you made a mistake with your flight number or if it has changed, you must create a new form.

I don’t know my seat number yet

We need your seat number; It is a very important field for us. You can finish filling out your form when you have it, including at check-in at the airport if required. Numbers and letters should be written together without spaces or special characters between the number and letter of your seat.

This isn’t necessarily a perfect fix for people who are flying with low-cost airlines that don’t issue seat numbers automatically such as Ryanair.

What flight number should I use if I’m catching more than one flight?

Use the flight number provided by your airline on your boarding pass. If you’re transiting through another country before reaching Spain, use the flight number of the plane that will take you to Spain.

If you’re having problems with the Android application

If you’re using the Android app, check that you have the latest version installed by going to the Google Play app and checking for updates. 

“Also check that you are not trying to create the same form twice (both on the web and in the app),” Spanish authorities say. You can create a new form as explained in the answer for making a mistake when writing your email address, mentioned above.

Again, this doesn’t necessarily address the matter of disappearing text whenever the app is temporarily minimised to access other apps on the mobile or tablet.

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Member comments

  1. I’m already in Spain and plan going to Lanzarote shortly. As Lanzarote is in Spain do I need to fill out another locator form?

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TRAVEL NEWS

What you should know if you’re travelling to Spain in December

The rules, the least busy travel times, the strikes, the free travel deals, what you can’t check in - here’s what you need to know if you’re travelling to Spain in December or at Christmas.

What you should know if you're travelling to Spain in December

December is a busy travel period with many foreigners leaving Spain to celebrate Christmas with their families back in their home countries and many others travelling to Spain for a holiday or to spend time with their loved ones here.

Airline strikes and an increase in passengers could make travelling this winter a little more challenging, but here’s everything to need to know, so you can be prepared. 

According to Spain’s airport operator Aena, the number of airline tickets sold for travel to Spain over the winter season is set to exceed the number in 2019-2020, before the Covid-19 pandemic.

Also, last winter saw the rise of the Omicron variant and some countries introduced new restrictions, so many foreign residents decided not to go back to see their families over the holidays. This means that this year could see more people wanting to return after several years of not having celebrated together with their families. 

Therefore, airports could be particularly busy this December, so make sure you leave plenty of time for getting through security and passport control.

There is still one important Covid travel rule in Spain

Although the majority of Spain’s domestic and travel Covid-19 restrictions were lifted before the summer of 2022, one of the only rules that still remains in place is the obligation of wearing a face mask on public transport.

This includes aeroplanes, buses, trains, taxis and some ferries, but mask wearing isn’t compulsory at airports, ports or bus and train stations.

As things stand, the general rule is that cabin crew from all airlines have to tell passengers on planes bound to Spain that they have to wear masks.

If on the other hand the aircraft is flying out of Spain, the mask rules of the country which the plane is flying to apply, which in almost all cases means face coverings aren’t required.

Spain’s flagship airline Iberia has criticised the Spanish government’s ongoing mask requirement for passengers on planes bound to the country, stressing that it “doesn’t make any sense” and “it affects tourism”.

Although it is no longer compulsory to present a negative Covid-19 test to fly, Spanish health and airport authorities ask that anyone with Covid-19 symptoms avoid travel.

It is no longer necessary either for travellers to fill in health control forms before flying to Spain as was previously the case, and there are no bans or restrictions on non-EU or other specific countries.

Which are the least busy days for travelling to Spain in December?

According to flight search engine Skyscanner, which has analysed nine million searches for people looking to travel to Spain over the festive period, some of the quietest days to travel to Spain are from the 18th to the 23rd, with the 23rd being the least popular before Christmas.

If you’re wanting to fly to Spain after Christmas, however, you’ll find it even quieter on December 28th, as well as January 1st, 3rd, 4th, 6th and 7th. You may find Spanish cities to be fairly busy however as December 6th and 8th are public holidays.

Conversely, the most popular days to travel are between December 12th and the 17th, so avoid those days if you want to avoid the crowds. 

Who is travelling to Spain this December? 

According to new data released by Spain’s Tourism Ministry, during the last month of the year, 7,066,101 people have booked seats, which implies a recovery of 97.4 percent compared to the same month of 2019. 

Forecasts for the early December holidays reveal that Italians, Germans and French are the main tourists who will be visiting Spain. During the puentes and public holidays on December 6th and 8th, Italians will make up the majority of tourists travelling to Spain (23 percent), followed by Germans (17 percent), French (16 percent), British (10 percent) and finally the Portuguese (6 percent).

Airline strikes

Several airline strikes have also been called for this winter, mainly involving low-cost airlines Vueling and Ryanair.

The Vueling strikes are due to take place on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, Mondays and public holidays. They began on November 1st 2022 and will run right through the Christmas period to January 31st 2023.

Specifically, this means that those travelling on December 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 6th, 8th, 9th,10th and 11th may be affected by cancellations. 

Additional days that will be affected include December 24th, 31st and January 5th 2023, affecting those passengers who plan on travelling for Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and Three Kings’ Day.

The workers are demanding a wage increase in line with the rise in prices due to inflation, as well as protesting over the precarious work conditions that have been experienced within the sector since even before the pandemic.  

Many passengers are currently being offered alternative flights, refunds or other compensation if their flights are cancelled. 

Ryanair baggage handlers and on-the-ground staff have also been striking and will continue to do so until January 7th, 2023.

It’s likely these airports will include Alicante, Barcelona, Madrid, Málaga, Palma de Mallorca and Seville, however, it’s worth noting that Ryanair has said that it doesn’t expect this strike to cause that much disruption.

Bringing food and goods in from the UK and other non-EU countries

One of the advantages of going back to your home country for Christmas is not only to see your friends and family but also to stock up on treats and ingredients you’ve missed while living in Spain. Think mince pies, custard powder and Marmite for those going back to the UK.

But as this is the second Christmas since Brexit came into force, many may still not be totally aware of what they’re now allowed to bring to Spain from non-EU countries.

The EU’s strict rules mean that all imports of animal-derived products are not allowed. This means no Christmas puddings with suet, no British bacon and blocks and Wensleydale or Cheddar cheese to bring back with you.

If you want to know exactly what you can and can’t bring in this Christmas, read our detailed guide here

Bringing food from Spain into the UK, is a little easier as you’re still allowed to bring in EU products, so packets of jamón and Manchego cheese are ok to take.

Travel within Spain

Those who are planning on travelling within Spain this Christmas, either to visit friends and family or simply for the fun of travel should know that there are currently lots of travel discounts, particularly on trains.

Multi-journey tickets are currently free on Cercanías, Rodalies and Media Distancia trains and are worth paying the €10 or €20 deposit for if you’re going to be making the same journey several times during your trip.

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For example, if you’re planning on spending the holiday in the small Catalan town of Sitges, but know that you’ll be making several trips to Barcelona during that time for sightseeing, shopping or eating out, then it could be worth it.

Unfortunately, the free tickets are not available on long-distance trains, but you can still get a bargain on these this winter as Spain’s new low-cost train operator Iryo recently launched.

This means that you can get tickets from Madrid to Barcelona as well as Valencia and Málaga for an average of €18 each. 

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