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What are the rules for travel between Spain and France this autumn?

What are Spanish and French authorities’ requirements for people travelling between the two countries at this stage of the pandemic? Do the rules change on either side and does it make a difference if you’re in transit or driving rather than flying?

Spanish police check travellers' coronavirus documents before allowing them to continue their journeys into Spain. Photo: Ander Guillenea/AFP
Spanish police check travellers' coronavirus documents before allowing them to continue their journeys into Spain. Photo: Ander Guillenea/AFP

As things stand in mid October 2021, Spain and France’s epidemiological situation have greatly improved when compared to earlier stages of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

In Spain, 90 percent of people aged over 12 have at least one dose (37 million out of the country’s 47 million inhabitants have been fully vaccinated) and the fortnightly infection rate is below 50 cases per 100,000 people.

In France, 67 percent of the country’s 64.8 million people have completed their Covid vaccination, and although cases are rising over the past month, the infection rate isn’t as bad as during previous coronavirus waves.

With these figures in mind, what does it mean for travel between the neighbouring countries?

What are the rules for travelling from Spain to France?

According to the Spanish foreign ministry’s latest update on October 15th 2021, all travellers over 12 years of age who enter France from Spain by any means of travel must show a Covid health pass or certificate proving one of the following:

  • You’ve been fully vaccinated (more details below)
  • You’ve tested negative for Covid-19 on a PCR or antigen test carried out in the 24 hours prior to the trip
  • You’ve recovered from Covid-19 in the last 6 months (more than 11 days and less than 6 months ago)

The Covid health pass, also referred to as the Digital Covid Certificate, is issued by the health authorities of each region in Spain and is the most commonly used and easiest means of displaying one of the three conditions above.


France’s vaccine requirements for entry

French authorities consider travellers to be fully vaccinated if they’ve received vaccine doses approved by the European Medicines Agency’s (EMA): Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson (Janssen). 

For travellers vaccinated with Pfizer/Comirnaty, Moderna, or AstraZeneca/Vaxzevria /Covishield, the vaccination programme is considered complete if the second dose was administered at least 7 days before the trip. 

For those who received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson inoculation, 28 days must have passed before travel from Spain to France. 

In the case of people who have received the required doses of a vaccine approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO) but not the EMA, it’s a bit more complicated. This is the case currently for those vaccinated with Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines. 

France will consider their vaccination schedule complete 7 days after receiving an additional dose of an mRNA vaccine recognised by the EMA. 

For people who’ve had Covid vaccines not recognised by the WHO or the EMA, the vaccination schedule will not be considered complete until two doses of an mRNA vaccine have been received.

France considers people who recovered from Covid-19 and received one vaccine dose afterwards to be fully vaccinated/immunised.

Flying from Spain to France

Before boarding the plane or during the flight to France, each passenger must fill out an affidavit certifying that they do not have Covid-19 symptoms and haven’t been in contact with a positive case of Covid-19 in the last 14 days.

If required by French border officials, they will have to undergo a PCR or antigen test upon arrival at the airport of entry into France. 

The form is provided by the airline. 

Many airlines only accept surgical face masks and not cloth masks, so keep that in mind as well.

Driving from Spain to France 

The same rules about being fully vaccinated, tested or having recovered from Covid-19 apply if you’re crossing the French border by land (see more above under requirements). 

However, there are some exceptions for which having to show a Covid health pass does not apply:

  • Crossings by land for less than 24 hours and within a radius of 30 km from the place of residence. 
  • Crossings by land for professional reasons of an urgent or frequent nature which makes it impossible to get tested. 
  • Travel by road transport professionals carrying out work duties ie. lorry drivers.

In all cases, compliance with these conditions has to be proven with documentation.

France’s affidavit of being Covid-free is required for all entries, not just by air, although in practice this may not always be requested at the land border between Spain and France.


Road transit through France

If you’re setting off from Spain and driving through France in order to get to the United Kingdom or another country in Europe, you will still have to meet France’s general entry requirements from Spain.  

This means you have to show either proof of full vaccination, a negative Covid-19 test from the past 24 hours or proof that you’ve recovered in the last 6 months.

Other points to keep in mind before travelling from Spain to France 

Since July 7th, PCR and antigen tests are no longer free for foreign tourists, except for non-residents who require a test by medical prescription, those who’ve been identified as a “contact case”.

It’s important to travel with your Spanish public health card and your European Health Insurance Card. 

If you develop Covid-19 symptoms while in France, call the 24h helpline 0 800 130 000 and only in cases of extreme urgency call 15 (SAMU) or 112.

People in France need to show a health pass to enjoy usually routine activities such as sipping a coffee in a café or travelling on an intercity train.

You can use your Spanish QR code to upload to France’s TousAntiCovid app which acts as the health pass.

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know about Covid-19 health passes in France

A man displays smartphones showing the AOK pass app at the arrivals area of Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport
Travellers flying from Spain to France will have to show proof of their Covid-19 health status. Photo: ERIC PIERMONT/AFP

What are the rules for travelling from France to Spain?

Spain’s entry rules are similar to those France currently has in place – to enter the Spanish territory travellers have to present either proof of full vaccination, Covid testing or recovery.

However, Spanish health authorities don’t classify whole EU countries as being “at risk” for Covid infections but rather regions, which means that people travelling from areas that are considered low risk in France don’t technically have to show a Covid health pass or certificate reflecting the above conditions. 

Currently, Spain’s Health Ministry classifies Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Corse, Guadeloupe, Ile-de-France, Occitanie, Pays de la Loire and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur as being “at risk”. (list updated weekly can be checked here).

The exception to Spain’s Covid-19 travel requirements are children under 12 years of age, travellers in airport transit, transport workers, cross-border workers and residents of the Spain-France border area for journeys not exceeding a radius of 30 km from their place of residence.

In any case, all passengers arriving in Spain by air or sea, including those arriving in transit to other countries, must complete a Health Control Form before departure and obtain their QR code to present it at boarding and at health controls on arrival in Spain.

It’s called Spain Travel Health and it can be accessed on this website or on their app.

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

What if I’m travelling to Spain from France on land?

If you’re crossing the border by car, train or bus, the same rules apply as for travel by air or sea.

If the area which you’re travelling from in France to Spain is classified as “at risk”, if you’re stopped by Spanish border authorities, they may expect you to produce a Covid health pass or certification.   

As stated earlier the health control form is for arrivals by air or sea, which means that people who drive from France to Spain do not have to complete the health control form.

What are Spain’s vaccine, testing and recovery requirements for arrivals from France?

For travellers who have been fully vaccinated, the inoculation must have been completed at least 14 days before their entry to Spain, with no time distinction made between vaccines.

Whether you use a Covid health pass or another form of vaccination certificate, it must mention the date of vaccination carried out, the vaccine administered and the country of vaccination.

Spain accepts EMA-approved or WHO vaccines: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Astra-Zeneca, Janssen / Johnson & Johnson, Sinovac and Sinopharm.

For travellers who haven’t been fully vaccinated and need to get tested, they must present a negative result for an antigen test (within 48 hours before travel) or a PCR test (within 72 hours). Saliva and rapid tests do not count. 

The testing certificate must include the identity or travel document number of the person tested.

If the traveller entering Spain from France has recovered from Covid-19 recently, they’ll have to present a certificate of recovery, valid from the 11th day after the first positive diagnostic test for a total period of 180 days (6 months). 

It’s key that the document includes the date of the first positive test, the type of test carried out and the country where this certificate was issued.

Spanish authorities consider that those under the age of 65 who recovered from Covid-19 and had one vaccine dose are fully immunised and therefore get a vaccination certification, whereas those over 65 who had Covid must have had two vaccine doses or one-dose of the Johnson & Johnson inoculation to receive full vaccination status.

However, there is no evidence that Spanish airport authorities will apply this criteria to foreign visitors in possession of a valid EU Digital Covid Certificate who are over the age of 65 and only received one vaccine dose, especially if the document is authorised by another EU/EEA country.

The EU Digital Covid Certificate can serve as proof of vaccination, a negative test result or proof of recovery for Spanish authorities. 

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Cabin crew staff to extend Spain strike by 12 days

A cabin crew strike at EasyJet and Ryanair saw 15 flights to and from Spain cancelled and 175 others delayed Saturday, as staff at the Irish airline announced 12 more days of stoppages.

Cabin crew staff to extend Spain strike by 12 days

The strike at the two low-cost airlines over pay and working conditions began as European schools started breaking up for the summer, creating headaches for both holidaymakers and the aviation sector.

By 1:00 pm (1100 GMT) on Saturday, 10 Ryanair and five EasyJet flights had been cancelled and 175 flights delayed, of which 123 Ryanair and 52 EasyJet, unions said in a statement.

The series of rolling strikes by Ryanair cabin crew in Spain — where there are some 1,900 employees –began on June 24, with EasyJet staff joining on Friday.

READ ALSO: Ryanair strike in Spain: 54 flights cancelled and 300 delayed on Thursday

Ryanair’s USO union rep said the new stoppages would take place in three four-day stretches: July 12 to 15, July 18 to 21, and July 25 to 28 at the 10 Spanish airports where Ryanair operates.

“After six days of strike and in view of the unwillingness of the company to listen to its staff and its preference for leaving thousands of passengers grounded rather than sitting down to negotiate an agreement under Spanish law, we have been forced to call new strike days,” said USO’s Lidia Arasanz.

She said the initial strike, which consisted of two three-day stretches, had seen “more than 200 flights cancelled and almost 1,000 delays”, with the upcoming stoppages likely to create similar levels of disruption.

EasyJet crew have pledged to strike during the first three weekends of July to demand parity in working conditions in line with other European airlines.

The strikes are a headache for the aviation sector, which has struggled to recruit people after massive layoffs during the Covid pandemic.