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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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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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