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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?
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. (Photo by STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN / AFP)

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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FACT CHECK: Do residents still need Covid documents to travel back to Spain?

Spain has dropped most Covid-19 restrictions, but do foreign residents in Spain travelling back to the Spanish territory from an EU or non-EU country still need to show proof of vaccination, testing or recovery in September and October 2022?

FACT CHECK: Do residents still need Covid documents to travel back to Spain?

The Covid-19 pandemic no longer dominates daily life or travel in Spain.

In recent days, the Spanish government has scrapped the Spth health control form for all travellers and soon it will stop carrying out temperature and visual checks on non-EU arrivals

That’s not to say that all of Spain’s Covid-19 travel restrictions have been lifted. Non-EU tourists still need to show Covid-19 documents to be allowed into Spain, and on planes that are bound for Spain passengers must wear face masks

But how about for foreign residents in Spain who are travelling back to the Spanish territory after a holiday abroad or a visit to their country of origin? 

For example, would a UK or US national who legally resides in Spain and who has just spent a couple of weeks back in their country of origin need to show proof of vaccination, testing or recovery when they arrived back in Spain?

The question is not so much whether you’re a resident in Spain, but rather which country you’re travelling to Spain from. 

If it’s a non-EU/Schengen country, then you technically have to show Covid documents. If you’re completely unvaccinated or more than 270 days have passed since your last Covid-19 vaccine, you’ll need to present proof of a negative PCR or antigen test. That’s irregardless of whether you’re a Spanish national or foreign resident in Spain. 

Do residents still need Covid documents to travel back to Spain
Screenshot from travelsafe.spain.info showing how an unvaccinated UK national who is resident in Spain needs to get a Covid test before arrival in Spain if travelling from a non-EU country such as the United Kingdom.

If on the other hand you’re returning to Spain from another EU/Schengen country, then you will not have to show a Covid-19 certificate or equivalent document. Again, that’s irregardless of whether you’re a Spanish national, a resident of Spain (EU or non-EU national) or even a non-EU tourist who was already in the EU/Schengen Area before visiting Spain.

do residents need covid documents to travel back to spain
Screenshot from travelsafe.spain.info showing how an unvaccinated US national who is resident in Spain doesn’t need to show Covid documents or get tested before arrival in Spain if travelling from another EU country.
 

This is according to Spain’s travelsafe.spain.info website, where on its homepage section there is a section which allows you to choose “origin” (city/country you’re travelling from), your nationality and your vaccination status. 

When you fill in the categories and click through, it tells you whether or not you need to get a Covid-19 test. 

It also states your country of residence, even though you’re not given the option of filling this in (although, we reiterate, residence isn’t what counts). 

Are Spanish airport officials still rigorously checking the Covid documents of arrivals from outside of the EU/Schengen Area? No. 

Whether or not you get asked is up to chance. Some travellers have said they have been asked to show proof, whereas others have not.

“I went to the United Kingdom, vaccinated with the third dose more than 290 days ago (20 days over), so I needed a negative diagnostic test to return to Spain. I got a PCR in London, it cost me €80, and in Barcelona I didn’t even get asked for it”, one Spanish national wrote on Twitter.

Keep in mind as well that if you’re travelling back to Spain from a non-EU country, but you have a layover in another EU/Schengen country first before reaching Spain, it will be that country’s rules that apply in terms having to show Covid-19 documents. You will already have entered the EU/Schengen Area before reaching your final destination (Spain), so you will not be asked to provide proof of Covid certificates when you land in Spain.

Is there a risk of being refused entry as a resident if you don’t have any Covid-19 documents upon arrival in Spain and you get asked to provide them? 

The worst-case scenario is that you will be required to take a Covid test there and then at the airport. Spain has allowed legal Spanish residents (whether they’re EU or non-EU nationals) to return home to Spain even at the worst stages of the pandemic when travel was heavily restricted.

So, if you’re travelling back to Spain as a resident from a non-EU country, what Covid proof do you technically have to be able to show? Only one of the following:

  • A Covid-19 vaccination certificate – Your vaccination status must meet the Spanish authorities’ validity period requirements. If more than 270 days have passed since your initial vaccination, you need to show proof of a booster shot.
  • A negative Covid-19 test – This should be either a PCR taken within 72 hours prior to departure, or an antigen test, taken within 24 hours prior to departure. 
  • A recovery certificate – This must be dated within the last six months. You can use a medical certificate or recovery record to prove your Covid-19 status. 

You can prove the above by showing a digital or paper certificate issued by the relevant authorities of the country in which you were vaccinated. If you were vaccinated in Spain, this can be Spain’s EU Digital COVID Certificate.

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