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LIFE IN SPAIN

What changes in Spain in November 2021

Vaccination campaigns, cultural events, property tax, travel rules, shopping, skiing, social benefits and more. There are plenty of changes in store for life in Spain in November 2021.

Skiing season stars, the clocks change and travel to the US is possible again - just three of the changes to expect in Spain in November. Photos: Josep Lago/AFP, Free Photos/Pixabay, SPENCER PLATT/AFP
Skiing season stars, the clocks change and travel to the US is possible again - just three of the changes to expect in Spain in November. Photos: Josep Lago/AFP, Free Photos/Pixabay, SPENCER PLATT/AFP

Reminder: Clocks go back on October 31st 

Just before November starts, there’s good news for your Saturday night: you’ll get an extra hour when the clocks go back at 3am in the early hours of Halloween – October 31st. It will mark the official start of winter time. 

The clocks will go forward again in March 2022.

November starts with a public holiday 

Monday November 1st marks El Día de Todos los Santos, All Saints Day in Spain.

It’s a public holiday across the country, one of eight national festivos that cannot be replaced or omitted from the calendar by the regions.  

November 1st is a day of remembrance in Spain. Most Spaniards visit their loved ones at the local cemetery, leaving flowers at their tombstones and then spend the day with their families.

Unfortunately, a cold front with plenty of rain is expected to affect most of the Spanish territory this long weekend.

People in Madrid will also have a regional holiday to look forward to on November 9th, when the capital takes a day off to celebrate its patron saint La Virgen de la Almudena. 

READ ALSO: How do Spain’s public holidays compare to what other European countries get?

Covid-19 booster and flu vaccines 

Both vaccination campaigns – which in most regions have seen those eligible get a shot in each arm (so far over-70s and immunocompromised people) – will move up a gear in November. 

People in their 60s are expected to be called up for the booster shot in November and from the 15th of the month those who had a single-dose Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine can get a booster of the Pfizer or Moderna Messenger RNA vaccines.

Regions which have not yet started their flu vaccination campaigns, such as in the case of the Balearic Islands, will also kickstart their rollout in November.

Travel to the US from Spain will be possible again

In mid-October, the United States confirmed it would lift Covid travel restrictions on passengers from Spain from November 8th as long as they’re fully vaccinated and meet other conditions. 

The easing of travel restrictions, imposed 18 months ago by Donald Trump as the Covid-19 pandemic first erupted, means people other than US nationals, US residents and close relatives can fly from Spain to the US. 

Here are the requirements and everything else you need to know before booking.

As a side note, Cuba will allow fully vaccinated tourists from Spain and elsewhere to visit the Caribbean country from November 7th.

Will Spain’s restrictions on non-essential non-EU travel end?

In late September, the Spanish government 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.

Spanish health authorities have fully vaccinated around 80 percent of the population and the infection rate remains low although rising slightly. 

And yet it seems unlikely that Spain’s Foreign Ministry will change its stance with regards to unvaccinated non-EU/EEA arrivals, except for travellers from a handful of third countries which are allowed to visit Spain for leisure and don’t need to present a PCR test or a proof of vaccination. 

This list currently includes Saudi Arabia, Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Chile, China, South Korea, UAE, Jordan, Kuwait, New Zealand, Qatar, Rwanda, Singapore, Ukraine and Uruguay. 

The rules are usually updated at the end of every month, so stay tuned to The Local Spain for the latest developments.

Plusvalía property tax scrapped

Spain’s Constitutional Court on October 26th declared that the country’s plusvalía tax is unconstitutional.

This is a municipal tax charged by town halls in Spain when homes are sold, with the aim of taxing the increase in value of the land on which the property lies from when it changed hands previously.

The Constitutional Court’s decision means that property owners who sell their homes in November will not have to pay the plusvalía tax (it doesn’t apply retroactively unfortunately).

However, Spain’s Hacienda tax agency is reportedly rushing to introduce another means of taxing this land value rise, as town halls are concerned about how much money they’re set to lose from their public coffers.

Spain’s social shield won’t end in November

The Spanish government has extended until February 28th 2022 the measures aimed at protecting the country’s most vulnerable from the negative economic impact of the pandemic, including the moratorium on home evictions and the ban on energy companies from cutting off power supplies for non-payment.

This ‘social shield’ as it’s been dubbed was due to end in November 2021.

Spanish pensioners get an extra payment 

People who receive a Spanish pension will get an extra payment this month on November 25th. Spain’s pension scheme consists of 14 payments a year, one for each month of the year and two extra payments in June and November.

Plenty of events

Spain’s improving epidemiological situation has meant that many events and festivals that couldn’t take place in 2020 are back.

There’s Gijón’s International Film Festival from November 19th to 27th, the Barcelona Marathon on November 7th, the World Press Photo exhibition in Valencia until November 7th, Madrid Horse Week at the end of the month,  the European Film Festival in Seville from November 5th to 13th, the World of Music, Arts and Dance festival (WOMAD) in Gran Canaria and plenty more. 

If you want to find out if there’s an event happening near you in November, Spain’s tourism website has a very useful search engine

Back Friday at the end of the month

Friday November 26th marks Black Friday in Spain, the American-imported marketing campaign that sees shops and brands drop prices to encourage people to shop till they drop.

H&M, Media Markt, La Casa del Libro, Asos and of course Amazon have all announced they will have a Black Friday sale.  

Spain’s flagship department store group El Corte Inglés will also take part and also have a big Cyber Monday electronics sale on November 29th.

Ski season starts on some Spanish slopes

If the weather conditions allow for it, Baqueira Beret (Pyrenees) will open on November 26th, San Isidro and Valle de Laciana-Leitariegos (Castilla y León) on Saturday November 27th and Sierra Nevada (Andalusia) also on November 27th.

Spanish authorities are yet to announce the Covid-19 rules for the 2021-2022 ski season. 

Given the considerably lower prevalence of the virus and high vaccination rate in Spain, they’re likely to be less strict than for the 2020-2021 season. 

Face masks are no longer required in outdoor spaces when a safety distance of 1.5 metres can be kept between people. 

There is also no need to have a Covid health pass to gain access to restaurants, cafés or other indoor spaces as is the case in other countries.

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LIFE IN SPAIN

Why you should think twice about buying a car in Spain, even if it’s second hand

A combination of supply and demand problems caused by the pandemic and a lack of microchips is making cars much harder to come by in Spain. Here's why you should perhaps consider holding off on buying that vehicle you had in mind for now.

Why you should think twice about buying a car in Spain, even if it's second hand

Getting your hands on a car – new, second hand, or even rental – is becoming much harder and more expensive in Spain.

The car industry has been hit by a perfect storm of conditions that have made new cars harder to come by and, as a result, caused prices to rapidly increase. 

According to Spain’s main consumer organisation, Organización de Consumidores y Usuarios (OCU), the microchip crisis affecting the entire globe, combined with an overall increase in the price of materials needed for car manufacturing and increased carbon emissions legislation has created a shortage of new cars in the country.

New cars

With less cars being manufactured, prices of new cars have gone up: a recent OCU report reports that new car prices have increased by 35 percent, higher even than Spain’s record breaking inflation levels in recent months. 

READ ALSO: Rate of inflation in Spain reaches highest level in 37 years

It is a shortage of microchips and semiconductors – a global problem – that has caused car production in Spain to plummet. In the first eight months of 2021, for example, production fell by 25.3 percent compared to 2019.

This is not a uniquely Spanish problem, however. The entire world is experiencing a shortage of semiconductor microchips, something essential to car manufacturing as each car needs between 200 to 400 microchips.

France’s car exports, for example, have fallen by 23.3 percent, Germany’s by 27 percent, and the UK’s by 27.5 percent.

Simply put, with less cars being produced and specialist and raw materials now more expensive, the costs are being passed onto consumers the world over.

Equally, these industry-specific problems were compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.The average wait for a car to be delivered in Spain is now around four months, double what it was before the pandemic, and depending on the make and model you buy, it can be as long as a year.

Car dealerships across Spain were forced to sell cars during the pandemic to stay afloat, and now, when consumers want to purchase new cars, they don’t have enough to sell and can’t buy enough to keep up with demand due to the materials shortages that have kneecapped production.

Second-hand cars

With the scarcity and increased prices in the new car market, the effect is also being felt in the second-hand car market too. With many in Spain emerging from the pandemic facing precarious financial situations, then compounded by spiralling inflation in recent months, one would assume many would go for a cheaper, second hand option.

Yet, even second-hand prices are out of control. In Spain, the price of used cars have risen by 17 percent on average so far in 2022.

Cars 15 years old or more are 36 percent more expensive than they were in the first half of last year. The average price of a 15 year old car is now €3,950 but in 2021 was just €2,900 – a whopping increase of 36 percent.

As production has decreased overall, purchases of used models up to three years old have declined by 38.3 percent. Purchases of cars over 15 years old, on the other hand, have surged by 10.4 percent.

If you’re looking to buy a second-hand car in Spain, keep in mind that the reduced production and scarcity of new models is causing second-hand prices to shoot up.

Rental cars

These problems in car manufacturing have even passed down to car rentals and are affecting holidaymakers in Spain.

Visitors to Spain who want to hire a car will have a hard time trying to get hold of one this summer, unless they book well in advance and are willing to fork out a lot of money.

Over the past two years, since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a shortage in rental cars in Spain. However, during peak holiday times such as Easter, the issue has been brought to the forefront.

It’s now common in Spain to see car rental companies hanging up signs saying “no hay coches” or no cars, similar to the no vacancy signs seen in bed & breakfasts and hotels.

READ ALSO: Why you now need to book a rental car in advance in Spain

While all of Spain is currently experiencing car rental shortages, the problem is particularly affecting areas of Spain with high numbers of tourists such as the Costa del Sol, the Balearic Islands and the Canaries.

According to the employers’ associations of the Balearic Islands, Aevab and Baleval, there are 50,000 fewer rental cars across the islands than before the pandemic.

In the Canary Islands, there is a similar problem. Occupancy rates close to 90 percent have overwhelmed car rental companies. The Association of Canary Vehicle Rental Companies (Aecav) says that they too have a scarcity 50,000 vehicles, but to meet current demand, they estimate they would need at least 65,000.

According to Spain’s National Statistics Institute (INE), fewer than 20 million foreign tourists visited Spain in 2020 and revenues in the sector plummeted by more than 75 percent. While numbers did rise in 2021, the country still only welcomed 31.1 million foreign visitors last year, well below pre-pandemic levels and far short of the government’s target.

Many Spanish car rental companies have admitted that the fleet they offer is down to half after selling off vehicles in the pandemic due to the lack of demand.

End in sight?

With the microchip shortage expected to last until at least 2023, possibly even until 2024, it seems that the best course of action if you’re looking to buy a new or used car in Spain is to wait, let the market resettle, and wait for prices to start going down again.

If you’re hoping to rent a car when holidaying in Spain, be sure to book well in advance.

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