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

The new travel rule which allows unvaccinated minors aged 12 to 17 to visit Spain with a PCR test applies to all non-EU/EEA nationals, not just those from the United Kingdom, Spain’s Foreign Affairs Ministry told The Local Spain on Friday. 

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Teenage tourists in Spain with Granada's Alhambra in the background. Spain's Foreign Affairs Ministry has informed The Local that the new rules for unvaccinated minors applies not just to those from the UK. (Photo by JORGE GUERRERO / AFP)

On Friday February 11th, the Spanish government published a state bulletin (BOE) in which it explained that the non-essential travel rules for third country nationals were changing,  specifically for 12 to 17-year-old travellers who haven’t been vaccinated for Covid-19. 

From Monday February 14th, “people aged 12 or older but under 18 who show a negative NAAT test (PCR or similar) taken within 72 hours before arrival in Spain” will be included as one of the exemptions for non-essential travel such as tourism from outside of the EU.

The BOE does not mention British 12 to 17 year olds specifically, but instead refers to exemption “K” of the Spanish Health Ministry’s guidelines for third countries, in which UK nationals were mentioned until midday on Friday, when this was quickly changed to refer to non-EU teenage travellers. 

This confusing situation has led to different interpretations of the new rule in the Spanish press, with some suggesting the exemption applies to all non-EU/EEA teens and others just British 12 to 18 year olds. 

The Local Spain has contacted Spain’s Foreign Affairs Ministry to seek clarification and an Exteriores representative has confirmed that the new legislation applies to all unvaccinated non-EU/Schengen teens, not just UK 12 to 18 year olds. 

Over the past weeks, regional governments and tourism groups have been pushing primarily for the rule to be lifted for UK teenagers, as thousands of cancellations by British families whose children were not yet fully vaccinated against Covid-19 were having a major impact on Spain’s main tourism market.

Spain has previously been willing to give UK travellers preferential treatment over all other non-EU holidaymakers so this, coupled with the vague wording of Spain’s state bulletin, explains why there’s been so much confusion. 

“The (Covid-19) vaccination of children under 18 has been relatively recent in many countries, without being possible in some cases to complete the full vaccination,” reads the bulletin. 

“This situation is resulting in parents who are fully vaccinated not being able to travel to Spain with their children,” Spain’s Tourism Ministry acknowledged.

Therefore, British as well as American, Canadian, Indian, or any other non-EU holidaymakers will be able to travel to Spain with their unvaccinated children as long as they show a negative PCR test.

READ ALSO: Spain to allow unvaccinated UK teens to enter with PCR

The rule that still remains in place is that all adult non-EU/Schengen nationals who don’t reside in Spain must be fully vaccinated to visit Spain for non-essential reasons such as tourism. 

There are only a handful of non-EU/EEA countries that are exempt from this rule given their favourable epidemiological situation.

Children under the age of 12 will also continue to be exempt from Spain’s vaccination and testing rules for travel. 

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COVID-19 RULES

Spain eases Covid entry for unvaccinated tourists

Spain on Saturday eased Covid entry rules for unvaccinated tourists from outside the European Union, in a boost for the key tourism sector ahead of the peak summer holidays.

Spain eases Covid entry for unvaccinated tourists

Until now travellers from outside the bloc — including Spain’s main tourism market Britain — could only enter with proof of vaccination or recovery from Covid-19.

But as of Saturday visitors from outside of the EU will also be allowed to enter Spain with a negative Covid test result, the transport ministry said in a statement.

PCR tests must be carried out in the 72 hours prior to departure to Spain or an antigen test 24 hours prior to departure.

Tourism Minister Maria Reyes Maroto said the “new phase of the pandemic” meant the country was able to relax the rules by equating non-EU travellers with those of the bloc.

“This is excellent news, much awaited by the tourism sector, which will make it easier for tourists outside of Europe to visit us during the high season,” she added in the statement.

Children under the age of 12 are exempt from submitting any type of certificate.

With sunny beaches and a rich architectural heritage, Spain was the world’s second most visited country before the pandemic, with 83.5 million foreign visitors in 2019.

But international travel restrictions related to the pandemic brought Spain’s tourism sector to its knees in 2020 as it welcomed just 19 million tourists.

The figure rose to 31.1 million in 2021, far below the government forecast of 45 million arrivals.

READ ALSO: Spain lifts Covid-19 checks at French border

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