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Q&A: When do I need to fill out Spain’s Covid health control form for travel?

Having doubts about whether you need to fill out Spain's travel health control form? Here is some useful information for international travellers heading to Spain or even those just transiting through the country.

Q&A: When do I need to fill out Spain's Covid health control form for travel?
Are there situations when travellers don't need to fill out the health control form before arriving in Spain? Yes. Photo: KOBU Agency/Unsplash

At the beginning of April, the rules regarding Spain’s Health Control Form changed, meaning that now it’s not a requirement for all passengers to complete one before arrival. Read on to find out if you’re exempt or if you still have to fill one out before travelling to Spain.

READ ALSO – TRAVEL: What are the Covid rules for international arrivals in Spain in March?

Q: What is the Health Control Form?

A: The Health Control Form is a form which provides the Spanish authorities with information about where you’re travelling from, your vaccination or recovery status and all the associated dates. It enables you to download a QR code which if you need to, you must show both before departure for Spain and upon arrival in Spain. You do not need to fill it out again when leaving Spain but you should keep in mind that the country you’re travelling to might have its own passenger locator form.

As the rules have recently changed, there is some confusion regarding who has to fill out Spain’s Health Control Form and under what circumstances. 

Here’s everything you need to know.

Q: Do I still need to fill out a Health Control Form if I’m flying to Spain?

A: This will depend on whether you have an EU Digital Covid Certificate or equivalent from a non-EU country. If you do have the certificate or its equivalent, you will not need to complete the form. Everyone else still will. 

So far, 37 non-EU countries (and territories) have joined the EU Digital COVID Certificate system, meaning that their equivalent certificates are accepted in the EU under the same conditions as the EU Digital COVID Certificate. Click here to find out which these countries are. 

The Spain Travel Health website states: “In order to enter Spain, all passengers, regardless of the country of origin (except children under the age of 12 and passengers in international transit), must show one of these documents:

  • An EU DIGITAL COVID CERTIFICATE OR EU EQUIVALENT of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative certificate of an active infection diagnostic test or a recovery certificate after having this disease.
  • SpTH QR. If you do not have the EU Digital COVID Certificate or equivalent, you must complete the SpTH Health Control Form, manually entering the details of your vaccination, recovery or diagnostic test certificate”. 

Each form is personal and is only valid for a single trip.

Q: How can I easily check if my digital Covid certificate is valid or not?

A: If you’re still not sure whether you have an equivalent Covid certificate which is valid, meaning that you don’t need to fill out the Health Control Form, then you can easily check online. Click here to go to the Spain Travel Health website. Here you will see two boxes – a yellow one that says “EU Covid Digital Certificate (DCC) or EU equivalent”. 

Click on this and it will take you to a page to check the validity of your certificate. Simply fill in your country of departure and date of departure, then upload your certificate. You will then get a message telling you if it’s valid or if you still have to fill out a Health Control Form. 

Q: What if I’m travelling to Spain by ferry?

A: If you’re travelling to Spain by sea, there used to be a separate maritime Health Control Form to fill out. Now however, there is no separate form. The same rules apply as those travelling by air. 

Q: What if I’m travelling to Spain by train, bus or car?

A: Currently, the Health Control Form requirements are only in place for those entering Spain by air or by sea. This means that if you’re entering Spain on land, such as by car, bus or train, you’re not obliged to complete the form.

Remember though, to enter Spain, you must still show a vaccination or a recovery certificate, so you may be stopped at the border and asked for proof.

READ ALSO – TRAVEL: What are the Covid rules for international arrivals in Spain in April?

Q: What if I’m just transiting through Spain?

A: If you’re just transiting through Spain by air or sea on your way to your final destination, you will still need to fill out the Health Control Form, if you do not have an EU Covid Digital Certificate or equivalent from a non-EU country. 

READ ALSO: A step-by-step guide on how to fill out Spain’s Health Control Form

Q: If Spain is my final destination, do I still need to fill out a Passenger Locator Form (PLF) for any other countries I’m transiting through?

A: This completely depends on which other countries you are transiting through and your mode of transport.

The EU Digital Passenger Locator Form website’s FAQs section says “Travellers travelling by car need to submit a PLF every time they enter a country that requires submission of a PLF.”

However, not all countries require this form and rules vary between them. You will need to check the official information for each country you pass through to find out.

For example, France states that only arrivals coming by plane need to fill out a form, while Portugal says that those arriving by air need to complete their locator card

Switzerland’s Federal Office of Public Health says that no one entering the country is currently required to fill out a PLF.

Q: Do I still need to complete the Health Control Form if I’m resident in Spain and not coming for tourism purposes?

If you live in Spain and have your EU Digital Covid Certificate, then no, you won’t have to fill out the Health Control Form. If you don’t however, you will still have to complete one. 

Q: How far in advance of my journey can/should I fill out my Spanish Health Control Form?

You can only fill out your form within the 48 hours before your flight as the Spanish government wants the information to be as up-to-date as possible. 

Q: What happens if I forget to fill out my Spanish Health Control Form?

There is no official mention by Spanish authorities about what should happen in such cases but there are eyewitness accounts of airport staff requiring Spain-bound passengers to fill out the form at the airport before being allowed to travel to Spain. 

READ ALSO: The most common problems with the Spain Travel Health app and some potential solutions

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Travellers call for left-luggage offices at Spain’s train stations to reopen

Train passengers in Spain haven’t had a place to store their luggage at stations across the country since left-luggage offices were closed at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Many travellers are now questioning why they still haven’t reopened.

Travellers call for left-luggage offices at Spain's train stations to reopen

Having a place to store your luggage whilst travelling can save you a lot of hassle, be it because you’ve had to check out of your accommodation early and don’t want to lug your bags around, or because you’re only stopping in a Spanish city for a day visit before moving on to your next destination.

Train stations’ consignas, as left-luggage offices or checkrooms are known in Spain, closed at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic as a safety precaution when the spread of the virus wasn’t fully understood. 

However, more than two and a half years on and with the vast majority of Covid restrictions now lifted, this invaluable service has not been resumed by Adif, Spain’s state-owned railway infrastructure manager. 

From Madrid’s Atocha station to Valencia’s Joaquín Sorolla, Málaga’s María Zambrano or Seville’s Santa Justa, very few stations in Spain appear to have reopened their left-luggage offices, and there’s no sign that they will be doing so soon either.

As a result, many small businesses close to train stations – from florists to hostels or stationary shops – are capitalising on this gap in the market and offering travellers a place to store their luggage.

However, this is being done at the premium which in many cases is more than double Adif’s previous daily rate of €3.10 for a small bag, €3.60 for a medium-sized one and €5.20 for a large one. 

“Our left-luggage service can represent 15 percent of our monthly earnings,” bike rental business owner Marina told RTVE.

Over the past year, a number of disgruntled train users in Spain have taken to Twitter to question why Adif hasn’t reopened left-luggage offices when some of Spain’s airports (although not all) have done so, albeit late. 

In November 2021, even centre-right party Ciudadanos called on the Spanish government to reopen train station consignas,  arguing that a good part of travellers perceived their closure as “an excuse to eliminate services and reduce costs in a veiled manner”, when it was proven long ago that Covid-19 rarely spreads through surfaces.

According to a memo sent to Spain’s national broadcaster RTVE by Adif, the public railway manager “is evaluating the models implemented in Europe’s main stations and airports” and a “pilot project has been launched at Barcelona’s Sants station, where the management of this service has been opened up to a company specialised in this type of service”, called Excess Baggage Company.

In other words, when left-luggage offices do eventually reopen at stations across Spain they are likely to be privately run, and with it most likely an increase in prices.