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EXPLAINED: What changes about life in Spain in October 2021

EXPLAINED: What changes about life in Spain in October 2021
Electricity price rises, travel restriction updates and a rise in self-employed fees are three of the changes to life in Spain in October 2021. Photos: Luis Gené, Martin Sylvest, Pierre Philippe Marcou/AFP
The month of October in Spain brings with it a rise in self-employment fees, train strikes, more sky-high electricity rates, travel changes, some important deadlines and more.

Restrictions for unvaccinated travellers from third countries continue

The Spanish government has again extended temporary restrictions for non-essential travel from most third countries until October 31st 2021, meaning that the majority of unvaccinated tourists from outside of the EU can still not visit Spain.

The measure affects unvaccinated people from most non-EU countries who want to travel to Spain, as those who can prove vaccination with one of the inoculations Spain accepts can visit the country for tourism or other non-essential reasons. 

Spain also has a list of low-risk third countries whose travellers wanting to visit Spain for non-essential reasons can come regardless of without having to present proof of Covid-19 testing or vaccination.

READ MORE: Spain extends restrictions on non-essential travel from most non-EU countries until November

Minimum wages up but self-employed pay more 

Spain’s Council of Ministers on Tuesday approved the proposed rise of the country’s monthly minimum wage from €950 to €965, a €15 increase which should reflect on minimum earners’ September wages.

The new €965 figure is a gross amount (pre-tax) to be paid in 14 wages for full-time minimum wages.

If the employees receive 12 salary payments a year, their new gross monthly wages will be €1,125; that’s €17.50 higher than up to now.

Unfortunately, the rise in minimum wages in Spain will result in the increase of social security contributions for the country’s self-employed workers, as Spain’s SMI sets the minimum social security base for workers.

Autónomos who pay the minimum monthly contribution figure will of €286 will pay €3 more in October – €289.

Self-employed workers in Spain who pay the highest monthly contribution base of €1,233 will pay €12 more, up to €1,245.  

Train strike 

Hundreds of train services across the country have been cancelled as workers belonging to Spain’s national rail provider Renfe go on strike.

Renfe will cancel a total of 892 passenger train services during the first four days of this latest wave of train strikes in Spain.

This includes services on September 30th and October 1st, 4th and 5th, but excludes weekends.

The strike is planned to last eight days, but as things stand Renfe has only announced its plans for the first half of the workers’ strike, and not the remaining strike days of October 7th, 8th, 11th and 12th.

READ MORE: Train strike in Spain – What you need to know

Electricity prices to keep rising?

Everything points to Spain’s electricity rates continuing to spike in October. On September 30th, a new price record was beaten (the 57th in the past three months) with the Megawatt per hour rate surpassing the €200 threshold and now standing at €216,01, double the initial record of €106 on July 21st.

The Spanish government did approve a raft of measures in mid-September to help reduce ever-increasing electricity bills for people in Spain, but it seems unlikely that these relentless price hikes won’t reflect to some extent on how much consumers end up paying. 

KEY POINTS: How will Spain tackle rising electricity prices?

Third Covid-19 vaccine for some

Spanish pharmaceutical company Hipra is scheduled to start administering its inoculation as a booster dose in October, after successful trials conducted in Catalonia in September. 

 If everything goes as planned, it will administer the vaccine nationally, whilst also starting to commercialise the conventional two-dose inoculation overseas. 

Spain’s Health Ministry has chosen Hipra’s vaccine, together with Sanofi and Novavax, as the booster doses they will offer the country’s most high-risk population, including those who’ve had organ transplants, elderly people in care homes, immunosuppressed people and those aged over 40 with Down’s Syndrome. 

End of more Covid restrictions

Depending on which region of Spain you live in, by this stage of the pandemic there are a few or hardly any Covid restrictions still in place. 

The country’s high vaccination rate and a weekly infection rate under 50 cases per 100,000 has already seen numerous regions lift most Covid measures relating to opening hours and limits on capacities in September.

READ ALSO: When will Covid restrictions end in my region of Spain?

In October, even more are set to follow.

Valencian regional president Ximo Puig announced on September 28th that all existing restrictions for cinemas, theatres, auditoriums, museums, libraries, shops and establishments holding parties or local festivities will be lifted until October 8th, when the situation will be reviewed again.

Catalonia has already allowed nightclub terraces to reopen and it looks likely that on October 15th nightlife venues will open fully. 

The Balearic government has also agreed to reopen its bars and nightclubs on October 8th, with 75 percent occupancy, customers expected to remain seated and obligatory face masks on the dancefloor. 

READ ALSO: Madrid lifts all capacity restrictions for venues from October 4th

Flu jab campaign to be launched 

Spain’s Health Minister Carolina Darias announced on Monday that in the second half of October people across Spain will be able to get their flu jab. 

“Now more than ever, it’s important to get the flu vaccine,” Darias said with regards to high risk groups in particular, as the compounded effect of contracting the Covid-19 virus and the flu virus poses a serious threat to them. 

Spanish health authorities recommend the flu vaccine for people over 65 years of age, for those aged between 6 months and 65 years with pre-existing conditions and those who spend time regularly with people in these high-risk groups.

“They’re inactivated vaccines against influenza which contain fractions of the virus or viral proteins, therefore they do not contain live viruses and cannot cause influenza”, Spain’s Health Ministry writes.

Validity of UK driving licences in Spain ends

Back in June, The Spanish government announced it would extend the validity of UK driving licences in Spain post Brexit until October 31st 2021 rather than the previous deadline of June 30th.

If you are a British licence holder, you can read more about it here, but as things stand there is no official announcement from either UK or Spanish authorities on a bilateral agreement which would resolve the issue of recognition of licences post-Brexit, or an extension of the validity deadline after October 31st 2021. 

Travel from Spain to US has to wait

US authorities recently announced that from November, fully vaccinated people in Spain and other EU nations will be able to travel to the United States, after more than a year of restrictions for non-US nationals and residents and those with force majeure reasons. 

That means that for the month of October, it still won’t be possible for the majority of people fully vaccinated in Spain to fly over to the US, but it won’t be long now. 

On September 3rd Spanish health authorities removed the United States from the list of third countries whose travellers don’t have to meet Spain’s Covid travel restrictions, meaning that travel between both countries is still highly dependent on vaccination and essential circumstances. 

UK travel rules change

From October 4th, fully vaccinated travellers from countries in the “rest of the world” list do not need to undertake pre-departure tests (previously those travelling from European countries needed a PCR or antigen/lateral flow test within 72 hours of travel.

Fully vaccinated travellers from Spain who have been inoculated with an “approved vaccine” will still need to take a test on day two of arrival, but it can be the cheaper lateral flow tests rather than the more expensive PCR tests, which previously needed to be reserved and paid for before travel. It was not clear whether these would have to be paid for and reserved in advance.

Anyone testing positive will need to isolate and take a confirmatory PCR test, at no additional cost to the traveller, which “would be genomically sequenced to help identify new variants”.  

Those who are unvaccinated and travelling from Spain will still have to abide by strict rules, including the need to quarantine for 10 days after arrival. “Testing for unvaccinated passengers from non-red countries will include pre-departure tests, day 2 and day 8 PCR tests, and test to release remains an option to reduce the self-isolation period,” the UK government said.

FIND OUT MORE: What travellers from Spain to England should know about the UK’s new Covid border rules in October

New travel documents rule for Spanish and EU citizens travelling to UK

From October 1st, the vast majority of EU citizens (including people from Spain) can no longer travel into the UK using an ID card, only passports are acceptable. Full details HERE.

UK car stickers

If you’re driving a British-registered car into Spain from October you will need to replace your GB car sticker with a UK one, a new rule from the British government.

Clocks change

Right at the end of the month on Sunday October 31st, the clocks will be pushed back an hour to adapt to winter time. 

To be specific, at 3 am in the morning mainland Spain time, the clocks will be set back to 2 am. In the case of the Canary Islands, at 2 am it will become 1 in the morning.

New housing law for people with lower financial means

Spain’s Urban Affairs Ministry is set to approve a €5-billion package in October aimed at developing measures which will give young people access to their first property as well as build 20,000 social housing units for rental.

Covid crisis aid and evictions moratorium ends

On October 31st, Spain’s “social shield” aimed at helping families affected by the pandemic will end, unless there is another extension as has previously happened.

This includes a ban on cutting water, electricity and other utility supplies from families who can’t pay their bills and a moratorium on forced residential evictions for those who saw their income vanish due to the pandemic.

Spain’s ERTE furlough scheme continues

The furlough scheme which has allowed thousands of struggling employees and businesses to receive most of their salary during the pandemic was scheduled to end on October 31st, but on September 28th national government and workers’ unions reached an agreement for a further extension until February 2022. 

Companies that want to keep their ERTE in October have to apply between October 1st and 10th.

Helmets for e-scooter riders to be made obligatory

Spain’s Directorate of Traffic has a new measure in place which is set to be approved by the government in early October which will require users of electric scooters and similar mobility devices to have to wear a helmet.

The new rule has the support of practically all major Spanish political parties. Also included in the same package of traffic rule changes is a proposal to increase the number of points lost from three to four for drivers who don’t properly use their seat belts, child restraint systems, helmets and other protection elements.

Deadlines for self-employed people

October is one of the months with the most tax obligations for Spain’s autónomos.

Depending on their status and business practices, self-employed workers have to send up to seven documents by October 20th. These are:

Modelo 303: self-assessment VAT (autoliquidación IVA) third quarter of 2021

Modelo 111: invoice retention (retención de facturas), third quarter 2021

Modelo 115: rental of premises (alquiler del local)

Modelo 123: private financing (financiación privada)

Modelo 130: direct estimation (estimación directa)

Modelo 131: objective estimation (estimación objectiva)

Modelo 202: Corporation Tax (impuesto de sociedades)

FIND OUT: What does a ‘gestor’ do in Spain and why you’ll need one

Córdoba’s flower patios on show 

The historic Andalusian city is welcoming tourists and locals to visit its famed flower-pot studded patios in October, with two major floral events planned.

From October 11th to 21st, the International Flower Festival will be held at the city’s Archaeological Museum, with mesmerising floral displays on show. 

Córdoba’s yearly Patio Festival, which usually takes place in May, will also be held on the weekends of October 16th and 17th; and 23rd and 24th.

This annual event sees the owners of these ornately decorated but privately-owned patios open them to the public as they compete to be recognised as the most beautiful Cordobese patio of the year.

But Córdoba’s floral spectacle is just one of many events that are taking place in Spain in October, as the country emerges from months of Covid-19 restrictions and cancellations. 

READ MORE: What events are happening across Spain in October 2021?


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