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

The most common problems with the Spain Travel Health app and some potential solutions
International travellers looking to fly to Spain are experiencing problems with the Spain Travel Health app in particular. Photo: Jan Vašek/Pixabay
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 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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