Spain allows entry of non-EU travellers if they have recovery certificate

Spanish authorities have eased the travel rule which previously only permitted vaccinated non-EU/EEA tourists to visit the country, now also allowing those who’ve had Covid-19 and can prove it with a recovery certificate to enter.

Spain allows entry of non-EU travellers if they have recovery certificate
Spain's new travel rule regarding recovery certificates came into force on February 26th 2022. (Photo by ERIC PIERMONT / AFP)

Spain’s Interior Ministry has announced that tourists from third countries 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.

The rule changes to non-essential travel were published in Spain’s state bulletin BOE on Saturday February 26th and are in force since that date. 

The new clause states that “people with a vaccination certificate OR a recovery certificate recognised by Spain’s Health Ministry” are able to travel to Spain. 

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. 

The recovery certificate needs to have been issued by the “relevant authorities” or a “medical service” of the country in which you tested positive for Covid-19 in the last six months.

The change applies only to non-EU/EEA nationals who do not live in Spain and are visiting for tourism or other non-essential reasons, for example British, American, Australian, Canadian or other third-country holidaymakers. Children under the age of 12 are exempt from Spain’s travel requirements.

Unvaccinated foreign residents in Spain, EU citizens and residents as well as Spanish nationals can continue to travel to Spain, but in most cases will need to show a negative Covid test, or a recovery certificate if applicable.

Unvaccinated non-EU/Schengen tourists who do not have a recovery certificate can still not enter Spain. 

This latest change follows the decision in early February to allow unvaccinated non-EU/EEA minors aged 12 to 17 to visit Spain if they show a negative PCR test

It came after weeks of pressure from Spain’s tourism industry who said British families in particular were being dissuaded from going on holiday to Spain because their unvaccinated teenage children couldn’t come with them.

Spanish authorities also recently followed the EU’s recommendations to Member States and updated the country’s travel rules regarding Covid-19 health passes and required vaccinations.

The main change for third-country travellers wanting to travel to Spain is that if they completed their initial Covid-19 vaccination more than 270 days ago (around 9 months), they will need to show they’ve had a Covid booster shot to be able to visit the country. People in this situation who have had Covid-19 in the last six months can now use a recovery certificate instead to enter Spain. 

Spain also has a list of low-risk third countries whose travellers do not have to present proof of vaccination, testing or recovery. This is updated regularly and currently includes Bahrain, Chile, Colombia, Indonesia, Kuwait, New Zealand, Peru, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, China, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan.

All travellers to Spain must complete a health control form before travelling to Spain. 



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Spain to allow unvaccinated non-EU tourists to enter ‘in matter of days’

Spain’s Tourism Minister on Thursday announced that “in a matter of days” unvaccinated third-country nationals such as Britons and Americans will be able to travel to Spain for a holiday with proof of a negative Covid-19 test. 

Spain to allow unvaccinated non-EU tourists to enter 'in matter of days'

Spanish Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto on Thursday May 19th confirmed that it won’t be long before unvaccinated non-EU/Schengen nationals will be allowed to travel to Spain for non-essential reasons such as tourism, visiting friends or family or spending time in a second home in Spain. 

“It’s a matter of days before we eliminate a restriction that could be discouraging tourists from outside the European Union from visiting us,” Reyes told Spanish radio station Onda Cero.

“And that is that we are going to stop requiring the vaccination certificate and allow them to enter with a negative test”. 

Maroto then stated that this would have to be a PDIA test, which in Spain refers to both PCR and antigen tests. If it’s a negative PCR or similar test (NAAT-type test) it must have been issued less than 72 hours prior to arrival in Spain, or if it’s a negative antigen test, less than 24 hours before arriving in Spain.

The surprise announcement comes just days after Spanish health authorities decided to extend the ban on non-essential travel for unvaccinated non-EU holidaymakers until June 15th

Spain’s current Covid-19 travel restrictions only allow in third-country tourists such as Britons, Americans or Indians who have been fully vaccinated (including a booster shot if initial vaccination was more than nine months before travel) and those who have recovered from Covid-19 in the past six months. 

But for practically the entirety of the pandemic, unvaccinated non-EU tourists have been unable to travel to Spain, with only exceptional reasons for travel allowed. 

Reyes’ comments came about when asked by the Onda Cero interviewer when all of Spain’s Covid-19 travel restrictions will be lifted, as there are still other measures in places such as mask wearing on public transport (including planes) and proof of vaccination, testing or recovery.

“There’s a degree of safety with travel that we have to preserve. We’re still co-existing with the pandemic but that doesn’t mean that we haven’t been gradually lifting restrictions,” Maroto argued.

The minister spoke of allowing unvaccinated non-EU holidaymakers in soon as being another way of boosting the country’s recovering tourism industry, adding that her ministry was putting the finishing touches to the legislation, which will be approved in the coming days. 

A number of EU/Schengen countries have already lifted all their Covid-19 travel restrictions, including Greece and Austria most recently, as well as Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Sweden and Switzerland.

Other countries such as France and Italy, Spain’s competitors in the tourism stakes, have also already allowed unvaccinated third-country tourists in with proof of a negative Covid-19 test for more than a month now.