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What UK parents travelling to Spain with their children need to know

The UK government recently announced that kids aged 12 to 15 will now be able to prove their vaccination status for travel to Spain. Here's what you need to know about the Covid-19 rules and restrictions for travel with children between Spain and the UK this Christmas.

Children travel between UK and Spain
Vaccine status can be proved for kids to enter Spain. Photo: Ina FASSBENDER / AFP

Travel to Spain from UK

Spain announced that from December 1st onwards, all those travelling from the UK would only be allowed in if they were fully vaccinated and were no longer just allowed to present a negative test. Read all the latest requirements on travel between Spain and UK HERE

The new rules apply to everyone over the age of 12, which has presented problems for families wanting to travel to Spain from the UK this Christmas, as many children aged 12 to 15 haven’t been fully vaccinated yet and those that had couldn’t get the NHS Covid Pass to prove it.  

READ ALSO – ‘Two years running we can’t travel to Spain’: How Covid has hit your travel plans

So far, more than one million children aged 12 to 15 in the UK have received a single dose of the vaccine, with around three million eligible, according to the NHS. 

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) in the UK only recently said that 12 to 15-year-olds should be offered a second jab (to be given at least 12 weeks after the first) meaning that so far, very few children in that age category are fully vaccinated.

But further problems arose for those who were fully vaccinated, as they couldn’t prove their vaccination status because the NHS Covid pass was only available for those aged 16 and over.

NHS Covid Pass for international travel

The good news is that the UK government announced that as of December 13th, the NHS Covid pass would be rolled out to 12 to 15-year-olds for international travel.

This follows the government decision to extend the vaccination programme to offer both vaccine doses to all 12 to 15-year-olds.

The UK government website states that: “The NHS Covid Pass letter will be sent to the address held on the child’s NHS record and will show all the vaccinations they have received, including any boosters. The NHS Covid Pass letter should arrive within five working days, but may take slightly longer in December due to the Christmas postal service”.

If you need the letter sooner, however, you can also request the letter online and print it out yourself.

The letter will include an internationally recognised 2D barcode, however a digital solution via NHS.UK for this age group will not be rolled out until early next year. The letter service can be accessed by calling 119 or via NHS.UK.

The move may already be too late for some families this Christmas, but it’s good news for those wanting to travel to Spain next year.

UK Health and Social Care secretary Sajid Javid said: “The move will enable families to plan holidays in 2022 with greater confidence, as parents can be reassured they will be able to evidence their child’s vaccination status once they have had both doses of the vaccine”. 

In Spain

Once in Spain, travellers will find that many regions require a Covid health pass to enter various establishments. The rules vary slightly according to the region, so find out the latest rules HERE

Find out how tourists and people vaccinated abroad get Spain’s Covid health pass for daily affairs HERE

READ ALSO: How Spain will vaccinate five to 11 year-olds against Covid

Travel to UK from Spain

Travel to the UK from Spain also got more complicated recently. At the beginning of December, the British government announced it would reintroduce pre-departure tests for all arrivals from December 7th onwards.

The tests must be taken within two days of travel to the UK and can be PCR or antigen tests. They must be carried out by all travellers, regardless of their vaccination status.

Earlier at the end of November, the UK government also brought out another new requirement that applies to all arrivals (including those vaccinated and UK citizens and residents). They must take a PCR test for their Day 2 test as antigen tests are no longer accepted, and they must self-isolate until a negative result from the test arrives.

Children remain exempt from having to show a Covid health pass when arriving in the UK as well as for the vast majority domestic matters. 

KEY POINTS: What are the new Covid travel rules between Spain and the UK?

Member comments

  1. Children age 11 and under are not required to take the pre-travel test. I believe there are some other exemptions listed too.

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EXPLAINED: Spain’s new rules for unvaccinated non-EU tourists

Unvaccinated third-country nationals such as Americans and Britons are now allowed to go on holiday to Spain. Here are the requirements, documentation needed and other important information they should know before booking their flights to Spain. 

EXPLAINED: Spain's new rules for unvaccinated non-EU tourists

What’s the latest?

Spain has opened up to unvaccinated non-EU/Schengen tourists for the first time in more than two years.

Previously it was not possible for third-country nationals to visit Spain for non-essential reasons such as a holiday, seeing family or spending time in a second home in Spain unless they were fully vaccinated against Covid-19 (plus booster after 9 months) or recovered from the illness in the past six months. 

From May 21st 2022, unvaccinated tourists and other visitors from outside of the EU can travel to Spain if they show proof of a negative Covid-19 test, the Spanish government confirmed on Saturday. These are the same rules that apply to EU nationals and residents.

Spain’s testing requirements for non-EU/Schengen tourists apply to those aged 12 and older, children under that age are exempt from having to prove testing, vaccination or recovery.

What kind of Covid test do I need to get done to travel to Spain?

In scientific terms, Spain wants a diagnostic test that’s either a NAAT (nucleic acid amplification test, such as an RT-PCR, RT-LAMP, TMA) or a RAT (rapid antigen test).

In layman’s terms, that’s either a PCR test, which must be carried out in the 72 hours prior to departure to Spain, or an antigen test, 24 hours prior to departure.

Covid tests accepted are those authorised by the European Commission and must have been performed by healthcare professionals, therefore self-tests are not valid. 

What do I need to show to travel to Spain if I’m unvaccinated?

You need to show an official certificate or supporting document which shows the negative result of your Covid test. Your country may have a system in place that allows you to upload your negative result to an app. 

The document must be the original, in Spanish, English, French or German, and may be shown in paper or electronic format. If you can’t get it in these languages, it must be accompanied by a translation into Spanish by an official body.

The document that accredits the diagnostic test has to include the date the sample was taken, identification and contact details of the centre performing the analysis, technique used and negative result.

Spanish authorities recognise the UK’s NHS Covid Pass and others that fulfil the above criteria. 

Do I need to fill out a health control form?

This depends. Currently, 40 non-EU countries (and territories) have joined the EU Digital COVID Certificate system, based on EU equivalence decisions. 

That means that people from these nations who have a vaccination, testing or recovery certificate issued by the competent authorities of their country do not need to fill in Spain’s Travel Health form.

The countries with EU Digital Covid Certificate equivalence are Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Benin, Cabo Verde, Colombia, El Salvador, Faroe Islands, Georgia, Indonesia, Israel, Iceland, Jordan, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Malaysia, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Norway, Panama, San Marino, Serbia, Seychelles, Singapore, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Tunisia, Togo, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and the Crown Dependencies (Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man), Uruguay, The Vatican and Vietnam.You can also double-check here in case more countries are added.

If your non-EU country isn’t on the list then you have to fill in the SPTH form and upload your test certificate, which gives you a QR Code you’ll be asked for at the airport. 

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

Do I have to wear a mask on the plane?

Yes, you will most likely be required to wear a mask on the planes to and from Spain, although you don’t have to wear one inside Spanish airports anymore.

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

Is there any other travel rule I need to know about?

If you’re not an EU citizen or resident, then you should check if you require a Schengen visa to travel to Spain, as this will depend on your nationality.

Keep in mind that you will also have to abide by other Schengen rules, such as not being able to spend more than 90 out of 180 days in Spain and other Schengen countries.

Does Spain still have domestic Covid-19 rules?

Spain has lifted the vast majority of its Covid-19 rules, so there are no longer curfews, forced closures, limits on the number of people per shop or restaurant or Covid pass requirements to gain entry to buildings. 

Masks are no longer required outdoors and there is no face covering mandate for the majority of indoor public settings, except for on public transport, in hospitals, pharmacies, other health clinics and care homes.

READ MORE: What happens when tourists get Covid-19 while on holiday in Spain?

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