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Spain reduces validity of antigen tests for travellers from 48 to 24 hours 

From February 1st, people travelling to Spain who need to take a Covid-19 test to enter the country will have to get tested within 24 hours before their arrival in the country rather than 48 hours if they choose an antigen test. 

antigen tests spain travellers
Even though travellers using an antigen test for travel to Spain now have to get tested within 24 hours before travel, the rule for PCR tests remains 72 hours. Photo: Piero Cruciatti/AFP

Spanish health authorities have decided that international arrivals who get tested for Covid-19 via an antigen test in order to travel to Spain will have a shorter window of time in which to get tested.

This currently includes unvaccinated travellers from EU/EEA nations as well as Spanish residents and nationals who haven’t had any Covid-19 vaccine doses, and several third-country categories relating to essential travel. Unvaccinated travellers from the majority of non-EU/EEA countries cannot visit Spain.

Up until now, Spain’s rules regarding negative antigen tests required travellers to get tested within 48 hours before arriving in Spain. 

But from Tuesday February 1st 2022, “only negative Covid tests obtained within the 24 hours prior to arrival in Spain will be considered valid and provided that they are tests included in the list common rapid antigen detection test for Covid-19, published by the European Commission and based on Council Recommendation 2021/C 24/01″, explains Spain’s Health Ministry in a statement.

You can find detailed information about these EU-approved tests published by the Spanish Agency of Medicines and Medical Products here and the EU Monitor here, but buying an antigen test from a reputable pharmacy or an airport testing point should ensure these standards are met. 

If the antigen test has a CE marking, it meets the minimum performance requirements of ≥ 90 percent sensitivity and ≥ 97 percent specificity and has been validated by at least one Member State, it will be accepted by Spanish border authorities.

The Covid certificate which shows your negative antigen test has to include the date of the test for it to be accepted by border officials. All international arrivals in Spain also have to fill in a health control form before visiting Spain. 

NAAT or PCR tests are also accepted for travel to Spain and Spanish authorities will continue to consider them as valid negative tests that have been obtained 72 hours before arrival in Spain.

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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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