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What are the Covid travel rules between Spain and the UK in May?

While the UK has relaxed all of its entry rules, Spain has extended their entry restrictions for at least another two weeks. Here's everything you need to know about travel between Spain and the UK in May 2022.

Tourists arrive in Palma de Mallorca
Travel rules between Spain and UK in May. Photo: JAIME REINA / AFP
 
 
What are the latest rules for entry to Spain from the UK?
 
The Spanish government on April 30th extended again temporary restrictions for non-essential travel from most third countries, including the UK, but this time only for two weeks. 
 
That means those from the UK who haven’t been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 or recovered from the illness in the last six months cannot go on holiday to Spain until at least May 15th.
 

Vaccinated

Those who are fully vaccinated can enter Spain without the need to show a negative Covid-19 test or quarantine, regardless of the reason for travel. Your vaccination status must meet the Spanish authorities’ validity period requirements.

At least 14 days must have passed since being fully vaccinated before arrival in Spain. If you completed your vaccination schedule was more than 270 days (nine months), you must also be able to show proof of having received a booster jab.

READ ALSO: Do I need a booster dose to travel to Spain in May?

Spain’s Travel Safe website confirms this booster shot requirement for international travellers vaccinated against Covid-19 more than nine months ago, following recommendations by the EU for the vaccination rules to be changed. 

The additional dose needs to be visible on vaccination passes or certificates.

The booster shot rule is applicable to UK tourists but not Spanish nationals, EU citizens and their non-EU family members or British residents in Spain. Instead, if more than 270 days have passed since their initial Covid-19 vaccination, they must show proof of a negative PCR taken within the last 72 hours, a negative antigen test taken within 24 hours before travel to Spain or a medical certificate proving recovery from Covid-19 in the last six months. 

For UK tourists heading to Spain who received their initial Covid-19 vaccination within the last 270 days, proof of a booster shot isn’t required.

Aside from the two-shot Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines and single-shot Johnson & Johnson (or any other EMA or WHO-approved vaccine), Spain considers people who have recovered from Covid-19 and then been given one dose to be fully immunised. 

Those under 12 don’t require any proof of vaccination or a negative test. 

Spain accepts the NHS Covid pass, which you can read more about here

On April 6th, Spain dropped the requirement for travellers from the UK to fill out its Health Control Form. This means that you can now show your NHS certificate upon arrival at the airport instead. Read here to check the new health form rules. 

READ ALSO: A step-by-step guide on how to fill out Spain’s Health Control Form

 
 
Unvaccinated 

Spain’s Interior Ministry states that those who have recovered from Covid-19 in the past six months can visit Spain, even if they haven’t been fully vaccinated against Covid or if their Covid vaccination certificate has expired because they haven’t had a booster shot.

READ ALSO: Spain allows entry of non-EU travellers if they have recovery certificate

According to Spain’s Health Ministry, recovery certificates accepted as valid are those “issued at least 11 days after the first positive NAAT or RAT, 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.  

Unvaccinated non-resident teens aged 12 to 17 (who haven’t turned 18 yet) travelling from the UK are also able to visit Spain if they present a negative PCR taken within 72 hours before arrival in Spain or an antigen test, taken within 24 hours. The vaccination rule doesn’t apply to children under the age of 12. 

Those aged 18 and over who are unvaccinated and do not have a certificate showing that they recovered from Covid-19 will still not be allowed to enter – even if they supply a negative Covid test.
 
There are a few very specific exemptions to this rule, including if you are an EU citizen, an accompanying family member of an EU citizen or if you have a student visa for an EU country. The full list of exemptions can be found here. If you meet one of these requirements, you can enter with a negative Covid-19 test instead. 

Again, the vaccination rule is applicable to UK visitors so unvaccinated Spanish nationals, EU citizens and any non-EU family member as well as British residents in Spain are exempt but do need to show a negative PCR or antigen test or proof of recovery.

Fully vaccinated children aged 12 to 15 are able to get an NHS Covid Pass letter for travel to Spain.

Rules and restrictions on the ground in Spain

Most of Spain’s Covid restrictions have been relaxed, however you may still find some in place. These vary a lot between different regions, so it will depend on where you travel to within Spain. These could include capacity limits at certain venues.

Face masks are no longer required outdoors or indoors, except on public transport and inside hospitals and other health centres. 

READ ALSO: What are Spain’s new mask rules for travel?

What are the new rules for travel from Spain to the UK?

The UK dropped all its Covid-19 entry restrictions from March 18th. 

This means that no one entering the UK from Spain or any other country will need to take any Covid tests or even complete a passenger locator form.

The changes apply to both vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers, meaning that those in Spain who are not fully vaccinated, will not have to take pre-departure tests or a day 2 post-arrival test.

Mask mandates in the UK have also recently changed. The UK’s biggest airport London Heathrow has said that while mask-wearing is still encouraged, it will no longer be mandatory. Airlines British Airways, Tui, Jet2 and Virgin Atlantic have also stated that they have dropped mask rules under certain circumstances.

Member comments

  1. Aren’t the Spanish government making any exception for teenagers 12-15 travelling with fully vaccinated parents if they had only one shot?

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TRAVEL NEWS

TRAVEL: Spain extends ban on unvaccinated non-EU tourists

Britons, Americans and other non-EU/Schengen travellers who are neither vaccinated nor recently recovered from Covid-19 will not be able to visit Spain for tourism for at least another month, Spanish authorities have confirmed.

TRAVEL: Spain extends ban on unvaccinated non-EU tourists

The Spanish government has again extended temporary restrictions for non-essential travel (including tourism) from most third countries for another month, until June 15th 2022.

That means that non-EU/Schengen adults who reside outside of the EU and who haven’t been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 or recovered from the illness in the past six months cannot go on holiday to Spain during the next month. 

Therefore, Spain continues to not accept negative Covid-19 tests from British, American, Canadian, Indian or other third-country nationals who are neither vaccinated nor recently recovered. 

There had been hopes that the shorter two-week extension to the ban on non-essential travel issued on April 30th, as well as talk of the “orderly and progressive reopening” of the country’s borders, would mean that unvaccinated third country nationals would be allowed into Spain in May.

But in the end, Saturday May 14th’s state bulletin confirmed that Spain will keep the same measures in place for another 31 days, stating that they “will eventually be modified to respond to a change of circumstances or to new recommendations in the context of the European Union”.

Spain’s ban on unvaccinated non-EU travellers is arguably the last major Covid-19 restriction in place in the country, and other EU countries such as Sweden, Poland, Denmark, Czech Republic and Ireland are allowing unvaccinated tourists in.

This latest announcement by the Spanish government marks the umpteenth extension to non-essential travel from outside of the EU/Schengen area over the past two years of the pandemic, the previous one was due to expire on May 15th. 

But perhaps this extension is the most surprising, as the Spanish health ministry has modified its rulebook to treat Covid-19 like the flu and the country wants to recover the tourism numbers it had pre-pandemic.

The ban affects unvaccinated British tourists in particular, as the UK is still the biggest tourism market for Spain, but Britons’ non-EU status means they have to follow the same Covid-19 travel rules as other third-country nationals.

Vaccinated or recovered third-country travellers

Those who were fully vaccinated against Covid-19 more than two weeks prior to travel to Spain will need to show a valid vaccination certificate with an EMA or WHO approved vaccine.

If their initial vaccination treatment was completed more than 9 months ago (270 days), they’ll need to show they’ve had a Covid-19 booster shot. 

As for non-EU/Schengen travellers who have recovered from Covid-19 in the past six months, they will need to show a recovery certificate to prove this

According to Spain’s Health Ministry, recovery certificates accepted as valid are those “issued at least 11 days after the first positive NAAT or RAT, and up to a maximum of 180 days after the date of sampling”, as well as being issued by the relevant authorities.

Exceptions

In early February, Spanish authorities also decided to start allowing unvaccinated non-EU/Schengen teenagers aged 12 to 17 to visit Spain for tourism if they provided a negative PCR.

Spain continues to have a small list of low-risk third countries whose travellers visiting Spain for non-essential reasons can enter without having to present proof of Covid-19 testing, recovery or vaccination. 

This is updated weekly and can be checked here by clicking on the PDF under “risk and high risk countries/areas”. 

READ ALSO: Can I travel to my second home in Spain if I’m not vaccinated?

If you’re not vaccinated or recovered, the exceptions for travel to Spain from third countries that fall under the non-essential travel restrictions are:

  • You are a resident in the EU or Schengen country.
  • You have a visa for a long duration stay in an EU or Schengen country.
  • You work in transport, such as airline staff or are in a maritime profession.
  • You work in diplomatic, consular, international organisations, military or civil protection or are a member of a humanitarian organisation.
  • You have a student visa for a country in the EU or Schengen zone.
  • You are a highly qualified worker or athlete whose work cannot be postponed or carried out remotely.
  • You are travelling for duly accredited imperative family reasons.
  • You are allowed entry due to force majeure or on humanitarian grounds.
  • And as mentioned earlier in the article, if you have a vaccination certificate that Spain’s Ministry of Health recognises, as well as for any accompanying minors (unless they’re under 12 years of age).

READ ALSO: When do I need to fill out Spain’s Covid health control form for travel?

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