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Do I need a Covid-19 booster shot to travel to Spain in May?

Do you need to show that you have a Covid-19 booster shot to visit Spain or is it simply enough to have been fully vaccinated with the initial two doses? Here's everything you need to know.

Covid-19 booster shot to visit Spain travel
Find out if you need to show proof you've had a Covid-19 booster shot to visit Spain from February 1st 2022. Photo: Lillian SUWANRUMPHA/AFP

Being fully vaccinated against Covid-19 with the initial two doses is no longer enough for many international travellers to visit Spain. 

According to the Spanish authorities, if you completed your initial Covid-19 vaccination more than 270 days ago (around 9 months), you will need to show you’ve had a Covid booster shot to be able to visit Spain in many cases. 

This means that those who received their last dose in July 2021 or earlier, will need to show that they have this booster to travel to Spain in May 2022. If you got vaccinated in August 2021 for example, then you will need a booster shot if you want to travel to Spain in June 2022.

The booster dose requirement and the 270-day expiry date don’t apply to children over 12 and under 18 years of age.

Use the calendar below to calculate 270 days (roughly 9 months) from your final Covid vaccination dose, if you haven’t had a booster shot that is.

This additional dose will have to appear on your Covid health pass or vaccination certificate. EU Digital Covid Certificates will no longer be valid for travel once 9 months have passed after vaccination.

READ ALSO – TRAVEL: What are the Covid rules for international arrivals in Spain in May?

Who doesn’t need to prove they’ve had a Covid-19 booster shot to visit Spain?

Do these rules apply to all international arrivals who were fully vaccinated more than nine months ago?

No. EU citizens and any accompanying non-EU family members (even if the visit to Spain is for tourism), foreign residents of Spain and Spanish nationals are exempt from having to show proof of a booster shot to enter the Spanish territory, even if they were fully vaccinated more than 270 days ago.

There are other people who are exempt from this rule as listed on the Spanish health ministry website under “entry requirements for entry from Spain from third countries”, including habitual EU residents.

READ ALSO: EU countries agree to simplify travel rules with Covid certificates

Instead, they must show proof of a negative PCR test taken within the last 72 hours, a negative antigen test taken 48 hours before travel to Spain or a medical certificate proving recovery from Covid-19 in the last six months. 

All international travellers – EU and non-EU – who were fully vaccinated against Covid-19 less than 270 days before travel to Spain are also exempt from proving they have a booster shot to be able to enter the country. 

As long as they were fully vaccinated with an EMA or WHO-approved vaccine more than 14 days ago and less than 270 ago, they can visit Spain. Spanish health authorities also consider people who have recovered from Covid-19 and then had one Covid-19 vaccine to be fully immunised. 

It’s important that your Covid health pass or vaccination certificate specifies all the dates of your Covid vaccinations.

Spain also has a small list of ‘low-risk’ non-EU countries whose travellers don’t have to prove initial Covid vaccination or a booster shot; you can check the weekly updates here

Who needs to prove they’ve had a Covid-19 booster shot to visit Spain?

Non-EU travellers (who aren’t residents in Spain or with an EU family member) who were fully vaccinated against Covid-19 more than 270 ago will need to show proof of a Covid-19 booster shot in order to visit Spain for non-essential purposes such as tourism. 

For example, this could include American, British, Canadian, Australian or New Zealand tourists who were vaccinated more than 270 days ago but haven’t received their booster shot. 

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TRAVEL NEWS

What you should know if you’re travelling to Spain in December

The rules, the least busy travel times, the strikes, the free travel deals, what you can’t check in - here’s what you need to know if you’re travelling to Spain in December or at Christmas.

What you should know if you're travelling to Spain in December

December is a busy travel period with many foreigners leaving Spain to celebrate Christmas with their families back in their home countries and many others travelling to Spain for a holiday or to spend time with their loved ones here.

Airline strikes and an increase in passengers could make travelling this winter a little more challenging, but here’s everything to need to know, so you can be prepared. 

According to Spain’s airport operator Aena, the number of airline tickets sold for travel to Spain over the winter season is set to exceed the number in 2019-2020, before the Covid-19 pandemic.

Also, last winter saw the rise of the Omicron variant and some countries introduced new restrictions, so many foreign residents decided not to go back to see their families over the holidays. This means that this year could see more people wanting to return after several years of not having celebrated together with their families. 

Therefore, airports could be particularly busy this December, so make sure you leave plenty of time for getting through security and passport control.

There is still one important Covid travel rule in Spain

Although the majority of Spain’s domestic and travel Covid-19 restrictions were lifted before the summer of 2022, one of the only rules that still remains in place is the obligation of wearing a face mask on public transport.

This includes aeroplanes, buses, trains, taxis and some ferries, but mask wearing isn’t compulsory at airports, ports or bus and train stations.

As things stand, the general rule is that cabin crew from all airlines have to tell passengers on planes bound to Spain that they have to wear masks.

If on the other hand the aircraft is flying out of Spain, the mask rules of the country which the plane is flying to apply, which in almost all cases means face coverings aren’t required.

Spain’s flagship airline Iberia has criticised the Spanish government’s ongoing mask requirement for passengers on planes bound to the country, stressing that it “doesn’t make any sense” and “it affects tourism”.

Although it is no longer compulsory to present a negative Covid-19 test to fly, Spanish health and airport authorities ask that anyone with Covid-19 symptoms avoid travel.

It is no longer necessary either for travellers to fill in health control forms before flying to Spain as was previously the case, and there are no bans or restrictions on non-EU or other specific countries.

Which are the least busy days for travelling to Spain in December?

According to flight search engine Skyscanner, which has analysed nine million searches for people looking to travel to Spain over the festive period, some of the quietest days to travel to Spain are from the 18th to the 23rd, with the 23rd being the least popular before Christmas.

If you’re wanting to fly to Spain after Christmas, however, you’ll find it even quieter on December 28th, as well as January 1st, 3rd, 4th, 6th and 7th. You may find Spanish cities to be fairly busy however as December 6th and 8th are public holidays.

Conversely, the most popular days to travel are between December 12th and the 17th, so avoid those days if you want to avoid the crowds. 

Who is travelling to Spain this December? 

According to new data released by Spain’s Tourism Ministry, during the last month of the year, 7,066,101 people have booked seats, which implies a recovery of 97.4 percent compared to the same month of 2019. 

Forecasts for the early December holidays reveal that Italians, Germans and French are the main tourists who will be visiting Spain. During the puentes and public holidays on December 6th and 8th, Italians will make up the majority of tourists travelling to Spain (23 percent), followed by Germans (17 percent), French (16 percent), British (10 percent) and finally the Portuguese (6 percent).

Airline strikes

Several airline strikes have also been called for this winter, mainly involving low-cost airlines Vueling and Ryanair.

The Vueling strikes are due to take place on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, Mondays and public holidays. They began on November 1st 2022 and will run right through the Christmas period to January 31st 2023.

Specifically, this means that those travelling on December 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 6th, 8th, 9th,10th and 11th may be affected by cancellations. 

Additional days that will be affected include December 24th, 31st and January 5th 2023, affecting those passengers who plan on travelling for Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and Three Kings’ Day.

The workers are demanding a wage increase in line with the rise in prices due to inflation, as well as protesting over the precarious work conditions that have been experienced within the sector since even before the pandemic.  

Many passengers are currently being offered alternative flights, refunds or other compensation if their flights are cancelled. 

Ryanair baggage handlers and on-the-ground staff have also been striking and will continue to do so until January 7th, 2023.

It’s likely these airports will include Alicante, Barcelona, Madrid, Málaga, Palma de Mallorca and Seville, however, it’s worth noting that Ryanair has said that it doesn’t expect this strike to cause that much disruption.

Bringing food and goods in from the UK and other non-EU countries

One of the advantages of going back to your home country for Christmas is not only to see your friends and family but also to stock up on treats and ingredients you’ve missed while living in Spain. Think mince pies, custard powder and Marmite for those going back to the UK.

But as this is the second Christmas since Brexit came into force, many may still not be totally aware of what they’re now allowed to bring to Spain from non-EU countries.

The EU’s strict rules mean that all imports of animal-derived products are not allowed. This means no Christmas puddings with suet, no British bacon and blocks and Wensleydale or Cheddar cheese to bring back with you.

If you want to know exactly what you can and can’t bring in this Christmas, read our detailed guide here

Bringing food from Spain into the UK, is a little easier as you’re still allowed to bring in EU products, so packets of jamón and Manchego cheese are ok to take.

Travel within Spain

Those who are planning on travelling within Spain this Christmas, either to visit friends and family or simply for the fun of travel should know that there are currently lots of travel discounts, particularly on trains.

Multi-journey tickets are currently free on Cercanías, Rodalies and Media Distancia trains and are worth paying the €10 or €20 deposit for if you’re going to be making the same journey several times during your trip.

READ ALSO:

For example, if you’re planning on spending the holiday in the small Catalan town of Sitges, but know that you’ll be making several trips to Barcelona during that time for sightseeing, shopping or eating out, then it could be worth it.

Unfortunately, the free tickets are not available on long-distance trains, but you can still get a bargain on these this winter as Spain’s new low-cost train operator Iryo recently launched.

This means that you can get tickets from Madrid to Barcelona as well as Valencia and Málaga for an average of €18 each. 

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