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

Here's everything you need to know about the current rules for travel between France and Spain over the festive season, from the documents required to the tests you may need to get.

France-Spain border
Travel rules between Spain and France. Photo: ANDER GILLENEA / AFP

Many people are planning a trip between Spain and France this Christmas, either to visit friends and family over the holiday period, for tourism purposes or to access ski resorts.

The borders between the two countries remain open and there are no major restrictions on travelling between Spain and France if you have the necessary certificates and documentation.

Flying from France to Spain

The Spanish government Spain Travel Health website states that to enter Spain from France you must present your EU Digital COVID Certificate, also known as the Covid health pass or passport. The certificate may contain one or more of the following documents:

  • Proof of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with a second dose at least 14 days prior to arrival in Spain.
  • A diagnostic test, which has been performed within 72 hours prior to arrival in Spain for NAAT (nucleic acid amplification tests, e.g. RT-PCR, RT-LAMP, TMA) or 48 hours for RAT (rapid antigen test), the result of which has been negative.
  • A recovery certificate from COVID-19, after the illness has passed, provided that more than 11 days have elapsed since the first positive NAAT test was performed, and shall be valid for up to six months after.

If you do not have your Digital Covid Certificate you can present proof of any one of the above. Children under 12 are exempt from these rules.

Spanish authorities consider travellers to be fully vaccinated if they’ve received vaccine doses approved by the European Medicines Agency or the World Health Organisation (2 doses for Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Sinopharm, Sinovac; one for Johnson & Johnson) more than 14 days before travel to Spain.

Proof of full vaccination required from people aged 12 and over has to be issued by the “competent authorities” of the country where the vaccination was carried out, the dates and the vaccine administered.

In addition, all those who enter Spain by air and sea must fill out the Travel Health Form found here no more than 48 hours before arrival. This will give you a QR code, which you can present at the airport before travelling. 

If you’re coming from an area of France that is not on the Spanish government’s list of ‘at risk’ regions, technically you do not need to show any documentation.

However, the list is updated weekly and the situation changes quickly, so it’s always best to make sure you have the correct documentation just in case. You can find the list HERE

As things stand, all of France is classified as ‘at risk’, which means that unvaccinated French travellers will not be able to fly to Spain unless they can provide a negative Covid test or proof of recovery.

READ ALSO: How to get a Digital Covid Certificate for travel from Spain to the EU

Driving from France to Spain

If you want to cross the land border into Spain, the same rules apply with regards to Covid certificates and showing whether you’ve been vaccinated, have recovered or have a negative Covid-19 test.

Not all land borders have officials checking, so you may not be stopped and asked for documentation, but it’s better to have them just in case.

Those travelling by land do not have to fill out Spain’s Travel Health Form.

If you plan on driving through France on your way back from the UK, you should know that the French government recently banned all non-essential travel from Britain in a bid to curb the lightning spread of the Omicron Covid-19 variant, starting from midnight on Friday December 17th. 

However, if you are a UK citizen or a non-EU national who has permanent residency in Spain and are transiting through France in order to return to home, you will be allowed in. Proof of residency such as a residency card or visa will be required.

Flying from Spain to France

According to the French government website people who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 who are arriving from a Member State of the European Union are exempt from showing a Covid test. Their vaccination with an EMA or WHO-approved inoculation (Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Sinopharm, Sinovac) will need to have been completed at least 7 days before travel to France, or 28 days before in the case of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Those unable to provide proof of a complete vaccination schedule will need to show a negative PCR or antigen test, taken less than 48 hours beforehand. 

France’s travel rules apply to people aged 12 and over. 

French authorities consider travellers to be fully vaccinated if they’ve received the full vaccine doses approved by the European Medicines Agency. 

You can show your EU Digital Covid Certificate to prove that you are either fully vaccinated, have a negative Covid-19 test or have recovered from Covid. Otherwise you can show other documentation proving one of these three. 

Before entering 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. The form will usually be provided on the plane.

On Thursday, the French government toughened the entry rules for UK arrivals, but could this mean that travellers from Spain or other EU countries have to provide an extra PCR for travel to France over Christmas? It seems unlikely.

“Facing variants of the virus, we must continue to act as Europeans. Vaccinated people will not have to take tests to travel between EU member states,” French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted following an EU Council meeting on Thursday.

READ MORE: Macron vows not to impose stricter entry rules to France from within EU 

Driving from Spain to France 

If you are planning on driving from Spain to France then you must also abide by the same rules as when entering by air or sea. The only exceptions are:

  • Those entering France for less than 24 hours and within a radius of 30km from where they live.
  • Those entering for professional reasons of an urgent nature
  • Those who are transport professionals

You must also make sure you’ve filled out France’s affidavit form, as this applies to all passengers, not just those travelling by air and sea. You may not always and be stopped and asked for it, but if you are, you will be expected to have it.

Covid health passes

In France

Digital Covid Certificates or the passe sanitaire, as they are called in France, are required to access leisure or cultural venue across France such as museums, galleries, theaters and attractions.

Those travelling from Spain can easily use their EU Digital Covid Certificate for this purpose.

In Spain

Covid certificate requirements differ depending on which region you’re visiting in Spain. If they are required, then are generally needed to access bars and restaurants, as well as nightlife venues, but not for museums or theatres.

Find out here exactly which regions require the pass and for which purposes HERE.

Again, your EU Digital Covid Certificate is recognised and can be used in Spain.

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TRAVEL NEWS

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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