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What are the Covid rules for travel between the US and Spain in March?

Visitors can travel from the United States to Spain and vice versa for non-essential travel purposes such as tourism, but what are the latest rules, and what documentation and tests are needed for travel?

American Airlines plane
What are the rules for travel between US and Spain? Photo: Daniel SLIM / AFP

Travel from US to Spain 

In order to enter Spain, those travelling from the US must show proof that they are fully vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19 in the last 180 days.

Spain’s Interior Ministry has recently announced that tourists from third countries, including the US, who have recovered from Covid-19 in the past six months can now 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. These rules came into effect as of February 26th.  

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. 

If you are entering Spain on the basis that you are vaccinated, you must have received the last required dose of their Covid-19 vaccine no less than 14 days, and no more than 270 days (9 months), prior to arrival in Spain.

The US embassy in Spain states that if more than 270 days (9 months) have passed since receiving the last required dose of their Covid-19 vaccine, travellers must show proof of having received a booster shot at least 14 days prior to arrival in Spain.  

Over 18s who are not vaccinated and have not recovered from Covid-19 within the past six months, you will still not be allowed to enter. 

On February 14th the rules also changed regarding teenage travellers from the US. The state bulletin (BEO) published by the Spanish government explained “people aged 12 or older but under 18 who show a negative NAAT test” will be included as one of the exemptions for non-essential travel such as tourism from outside of the EU.

This means that as of February 14th, all those travelling from the US aged between 12 and 17 who are not vaccinated or who have only received one dose of the vaccine so far, will be able to enter Spain by showing a negative PCR instead taken within the last 72 hours instead. 

READ ALSO – CONFIRMED: Spain to allow all unvaccinated non-EU teens to enter with PCR

Spain accepts all Covid vaccines which have been approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and World Health Organisation (WHO). 

Unvaccinated Americans who are residents in Spain are not required to be vaccinated in order to return to Spain, however they will have to get tested within 24 hours before their arrival in the country if they choose an antigen test, instead of the PCR. 

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

All travellers to Spain, regardless of age, must also fill out the Spain Travel Health form prior to arrival, which can be found here. You can also access it by downloading the SpTH app in Google Play Store or iTunes App Store for each traveller.  

Once this has been filled out, travellers will receive a QR code which they must present before boarding and again once they arrive in Spain. This must be done, even if you are transiting through a third country.

There is no need to quarantine upon arrival in Spain, however if you do test positive for Covid-19 while in Spain, the Spanish authorities will require you to quarantine for seven to 10 days or until you test negative.

This may have to be done at your own expense unless you have adequate health insurance which covers this situation.

Rules and restrictions on the ground in Spain

While most of the Covid restrictions have been relaxed, there are still some which remain in place across Spain. 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.

In all of Spain, face masks are required in all indoor public venues. They are no longer required outdoors, unless a safe distance from others can’t be maintained. 

Travel from Spain to the US

All non-US citizens who travel to the US by air must be fully vaccinated in order to be able to board the plane. This means that those from Spain can show their EU Digital Covid Certificates as proof.

The United States will accept all vaccines that have been approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO) or the FDA.

The US embassy in Spain states that air passengers will also be required to confirm this in the form of an attestation that the information they present is true.

Those who are US citizens or permanent US residents and are returning from Spain will not need to show this enter.

All air passengers who want to enter the US over two years old, regardless of citizenship, are also required to show a negative COVID-19 test result taken no more than one day before travel, or documentation showing that they have recovered from Covid-19 in the past 90 days, before they board their flight.

These can either be antigen tests or PCR tests. Self-administered antigen tests are not allowed, unless they have been carried out with a telehealth provider, which has been authorised by the FDA.

According to the CDC tests must show the following information:

  1. Type of test (indicating it is a NAAT or antigen test)
  2. Entity issuing the result (e.g., laboratory, healthcare entity, or telehealth service)
  3. Sample collection date
    • A negative test result must show the sample was taken no more than 1 day before the flight.
    • A positive test result for documentation of recovery from Covid-19 must show the sample was taken within the 90 days before the flight.
  4. Information that identifies the person (full name plus at least one other identifier such as date of birth or passport number)
  5. Test result

If you have recently recovered from COVID-19, you can prove this with a recovery certificate, a letter from a licensed healthcare provider or a public health official stating that you are cleared to travel. 

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Cabin crew staff to extend Spain strike by 12 days

A cabin crew strike at EasyJet and Ryanair saw 15 flights to and from Spain cancelled and 175 others delayed Saturday, as staff at the Irish airline announced 12 more days of stoppages.

Cabin crew staff to extend Spain strike by 12 days

The strike at the two low-cost airlines over pay and working conditions began as European schools started breaking up for the summer, creating headaches for both holidaymakers and the aviation sector.

By 1:00 pm (1100 GMT) on Saturday, 10 Ryanair and five EasyJet flights had been cancelled and 175 flights delayed, of which 123 Ryanair and 52 EasyJet, unions said in a statement.

The series of rolling strikes by Ryanair cabin crew in Spain — where there are some 1,900 employees –began on June 24, with EasyJet staff joining on Friday.

READ ALSO: Ryanair strike in Spain: 54 flights cancelled and 300 delayed on Thursday

Ryanair’s USO union rep said the new stoppages would take place in three four-day stretches: July 12 to 15, July 18 to 21, and July 25 to 28 at the 10 Spanish airports where Ryanair operates.

“After six days of strike and in view of the unwillingness of the company to listen to its staff and its preference for leaving thousands of passengers grounded rather than sitting down to negotiate an agreement under Spanish law, we have been forced to call new strike days,” said USO’s Lidia Arasanz.

She said the initial strike, which consisted of two three-day stretches, had seen “more than 200 flights cancelled and almost 1,000 delays”, with the upcoming stoppages likely to create similar levels of disruption.

EasyJet crew have pledged to strike during the first three weekends of July to demand parity in working conditions in line with other European airlines.

The strikes are a headache for the aviation sector, which has struggled to recruit people after massive layoffs during the Covid pandemic.