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How the rules for travel from Spain to the UK will change on March 18th

If you're planning on travelling to the UK from Spain this Easter, here's everything you need to know about the UK government's eased rule changes that come into force on Friday March 18th.

UK airport
UK to remove all entry restrictions. Photo: Niklas HALLE'N / AFP

From March 18th 2022, all Covid entry restrictions to the UK will be dropped, UK’s Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced on Monday.

What does this mean for travel from Spain?

This means that from 4am on March 18th, no one entering the UK from Spain or any other country will need to take any Covid tests or even complete a passenger locator form.

The changes apply to both vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers, meaning that those in Spain who are not fully vaccinated, will not have to take pre-departure tests or a day 2 post-arrival test.

This is good news for those planning on travelling back home to the UK to see friends or family over the Easter break, with travel hopefully set to be as easy as it was before the pandemic began. 

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “I said we wouldn’t keep travel measures in place for any longer than necessary, which we’re delivering on today – providing more welcome news and greater freedom for travellers ahead of the Easter holidays.

I look forward to continuing to work with the travel sector and partners around the world to keep international travel moving”.

The UK’s Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “As we learn to live with Covid-19, we’re taking further steps to open up international travel once again ahead of the Easter holidays”. 

Mask mandates in the UK are also changing. From Wednesday March 16th, the UK’s biggest airport London Heathrow has said that while mask-wearing is still encouraged, it will no longer be mandatory. Airlines British Airways, Tui, Jet2 and Virgin Atlantic have also stated that they will drop mask rules under certain circumstances. However, they are still required on planes if you’re flying into Wales or Scotland. 

Jason Mahoney, BA’s chief operating officer, said: “From Wednesday March 16th, customers will only be required to wear a face-covering on board our flights if the destination they’re travelling to requires it,” which suggests that they will still likely be required when returning to Spain, but perhaps not when travelling to the UK.

If in doubt, it’s best to bring a mask as you will definitely still need them in the airports in Spain.

The move comes as part of the UK government’s Living with Covid plan, which saw them drop all restrictions within the country at the end of February 2022. The UK has also been steadily lifting its entry requirements since the new year, dropping both the need for the pre-departure tests and the Day 2 Covid tests for vaccinated travellers. 

While the tourism industry and airline officials have applauded the move, doctors, as well as leaders in Scotland and Wales have expressed their concern over the UK government’s plans. 

What are the travel rules before March 18th?

If you’re vaccinated and travelling to the UK before March 18th, you must still complete a passenger locator form found here.

If you’re unvaccinated and travelling to the UK before March 18th you must still:

  • Take a Covid-19 test in the two days before you travel
  • Book and pay for a PCR test to be taken after you arrive
  • Complete a UK passenger locator form in the three days before you arrive

What are the requirements for travelling from the UK to Spain?

While the UK is removing all its travel restrictions, there are still some restrictions in place for those travelling to Spain or those returning home.

Spain currently only allows entry for fully vaccinated travellers from the UK or those who have a recovery certificate from Covid-19, dated within the last six months.

If more than 270 days have passed since your last vaccine dose, then you must show you have a Covid-19 booster too. 

British holidaymakers can now travel to Spain with their children aged 12 to 17 even if they are not fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

Residents of Spain, EU citizens and family members of EU citizens are exempt from these rules.

Everyone travelling into Spain, regardless of where they reside and vaccination or recovery status, must complete a health control form found here.

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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.

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