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WHAT CHANGES IN SPAIN

EXPLAINED: What changes about life in Spain in April 2022

April in Spain brings with it changes to jobs, renting, energy cost cutting, Covid restrictions, Semana Santa celebrations, tax filing, travel rules and more. Join The Local Spain as a member to find out more.

EXPLAINED: What changes about life in Spain in April 2022
Pre-pandemic Holy Week celebrations will return to the streets of Spanish cities in April 2022. Photo: Cristina Quicler/AFP

Petrol subsidies and other protections

The Spanish government will on April 1st bring into force its €16-billion plan to address the issue of spiralling living costs in Spain caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

It will release “approximately €6.0 billion in direct aid and tax rebates and €10 billion in state-guaranteed loans to cushion the impact of the crisis on families and businesses”.

In practice, this means a ban on layoffs and other job-protecting measures, 20 cents on every litre of fuel for all drivers, a minimum vital income increase of 15 percent, cost-cutting energy measures and a limit of 2 percent rise on rent. 

READ MORE: The plan to lessen Ukraine war impact on Spain’s economy

Easter holidays

This year Semana Santa in Spain runs from April 10th to April 17th. 

Only Good Friday, April 15th, is a national holiday in Spain, although a number of other regions also include Thursday (Jueves Santo) as a day off. 

READ ALSO: The public holidays in your region of Spain in 2022

Hotel occupancy is expected to be around 90 percent of what it was in 2019, which means that Spanish and foreign tourists are likely to be crowding popular holiday spots. 

Northern Spain is expected to have rainy weather during Easter week. Even though it’s expected that it will be drier in central and southern Spain, cool temperatures are forecast for Semana Santa, so it may not be beach weather quite yet in much of Spain. 

Winter weather in April

While we’re on the topic of weather, April will kick off in Spain with winter temperatures and plenty of rainfall across the country.

The first half of the month is forecast to be unusually cold for the time of year. 

March has also been a very wet month in Spain after hardly any rainfall during the first two months of the year.

Restrictions for non-EU travel continue

The Spanish government has again extended temporary restrictions for non-essential travel from most third countries for another month, until April 30th 2022, the umpteenth extension over the course of the pandemic. 

What this means is that most unvaccinated non-EU/Schengen adult travellers can still not visit Spain for tourism. 

READ MORE: Unvaccinated non-EU tourists still can’t visit Spain in April

Fully vaccinated third country nationals residing outside of the EU, as well as those who can prove they’ve recovered from Covid-19 in the past sixth months, are allowed to visit Spain for non-essential reasons such as tourism in April.

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.

READ ALSO: Will Spain change its Covid restrictions ahead of Easter?

End of the indoor face mask rule?

Throughout March there was speculation that the requirement of wearing masks in indoor public spaces in Spain would be scrapped, especially after PM Pedro Sánchez said at the start of the month that it would happen “very soon”. 

The final decision has been put on ice as a result of concerns among health experts that infections are still too high for this to happen, the rise in cases in other countries that have scrapped their mask rules and the prevalence of the new but still largely unknown ‘Stealth Omicron’ subvariant. 

So will the Spanish government finally get rid of the rule before Easter? A key meeting to be held on April 6th will likely decide the outcome of this. 

Since March 28th it’s no longer compulsory for mild or asymptomatic Covid cases to quarantine in Spain, but it may be that Spanish authorities aren’t willing to take the risk with masks just as the country starts one of its busiest periods of travel and socialising of the year. 

READ MORE: When will masks stop being mandatory in Spain?

Semana Santa processions return 

Pre-pandemic Holy Week celebrations will return to the streets of Spanish cities in 2022 after two years of cancellations and downsizing in most places. 

You can expect to see processions in Seville, Málaga, Zamora, Zaragoza, Mallorca, Santander, Madrid and many more locations, even though rain is forecast during Easter week. 

Local authorities are also likely to recommend attendees wear masks even if outdoors, as celebrations tend to see crowds packed together in squares and sidewalks to watch the religious spectacles. 

UK driving licence validity ends 

Last February, Spanish authorities for the fourth time extended the period of validity of UK driving licences in Spain until April 30th.

As this deadline nears, negotiations over the mutual exchange of licences continue with no deadline in sight after more than a year of talks.

UK licence holders in Spain can expect either an answer to whether they will have to sit their practical driving exams in Spanish soon or they will get another extension to the validity of their UK licences, the latter the more likely outcome based on previous events. 

WhatsApp to stop working on old mobiles 

In April 2022, instant messaging service WhatsApp will stop working on Android phones with an operating system older than 4.1 Jelly Bean (launched in 2012) and iPhones with an iOS older than iOS 10 (launched in 2016). 

So if you have a mobile phone in Spain and WhatsApp stops working on it in April, you will quite possibly be able to resolve the issue by downloading the latest software version.

Tax season starts

The start date for filing your annual income tax return in Spain is April 6th 2022.

Personal income tax is known as IRPF in Spain (Impuesto sobre la Renta de las Personas Físicas), commonly shortened to la renta.

The annual income tax return is called la declaración de la renta. This is a progressive tax: in other words, the more you earn, the more you pay.

Spanish income tax returns have to be filed by June 30th for the preceding year, in this case 2021.

READ MORE: What you need to know about filing your Spanish tax return

First Covid pills available 

Paxlovid, the oral antiviral pill which helps reduce the risk of hospitalisation from Covid-19 by 90 percent, will be available in Spain in April.

At first, they will mainly be given to those patients who are at risk of developing serious complications from Covid-19.

Paxlovid will be the first orally-administered antiviral drug used in the EU to treat Covid-19.

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For members

WHAT CHANGES IN SPAIN

EXPLAINED: What changes about life in Spain in May 2022

May 2022 in Spain brings tax declaration changes, savings on your energy bills, second booster doses, a bank holiday for some, incredible festivals, a big announcement about UK driving licences and more.

EXPLAINED: What changes about life in Spain in May 2022

Bank holiday for some regions

Many regions in Spain celebrate the Día del Trabajador or International Workers’ Day, but as this year May 1st falls on a Sunday, several regions have decided to push the holiday over to Monday May 2nd, creating a long weekend.

According to the work calendar of the Government of Spain, seven regions have chosen to move the holiday to Monday. These are Andalusia, Aragon, Asturias, Castilla y León, Extremadura, Murcia and Madrid.

This year, the long weekend coincides with Spanish Mother’s Day on May 1st.  

Spain’s Hipra vaccine to be on the market in May

Spain’s Minister of Science and Innovation, Diana Morant, has announced that the Spanish vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 (Covid-19) from Hipra laboratories could begin to be marketed, after the green light from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) at the end of May.  

Hipra, which has received €18 million in aid from the ministry for development and production, is to be the first Spanish vaccine against Covid-19.

Going by the brand name PHH-1V, the Hipra shot is being developed as a booster vaccine for adults who have already been fully vaccinated with a different COVID-19 vaccine.

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Annual income tax declaration on the phone

From May 5th 2022, people who prefer to file their annual income tax declaration – la declaración de la renta – over the phone (in Spanish) can do so by calling either 91 757 57 77 or 901 200 347. They will also be able to resolve any doubts you have. 

READ ALSO: What you need to know about filing your Spanish tax return in 2022

If you would rather file your annual income tax in person you’ll have to wait until June 1st, but alternatively the whole process can be done online. Here’s our step-by-step guide to completing your Spanish tax return

If you’re not sure if you have to file an income tax return in Spain, this article will help

Fourth Covid vaccine for over 80s and care home residents

According to a report by Spain’s Vaccine Committee published on April 18th, Spanish health authorities will most probably start to offer a second booster dose to over-80s and care home residents in early May 2022.

Until now, the fourth dose has only been made available to around 120,000 people in Spain classified as vulnerable, including people with cancer, HIV patients, those who have had a transplant or are receiving dialysis.

On April 6th, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) backed a second booster dose for over-80s, but added that it was “too early to consider using a fourth dose of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer’s Comirnaty and Moderna’s Spikevax) in the general population”.

READ ALSO: Spain set to offer fourth Covid-19 vaccine dose to over-80s

Energy prices to fall in May

Spain and Portugal have agreed with the European Commission to set a maximum of €50 for the price of gas over the next 12 months, a measure that will make it possible to lower the energy bill from May by between 30 and 40 percent.  

Electricity prices on the Iberian Peninsula will be slashed under an exemption allowing them to separate the price of gas from that of the rest of the European Union. 

This measure will lead to a substantial drop in the price of the wholesale electricity market. According to Madrid, around 40 percent of households should benefit from the system, and between 70 and 80 percent of companies will be affected.

READ ALSO: Spain and Portugal’s cost-cutting ‘energy island’ plan gets EU approval

UK driving licences of residents in Spain no longer valid from May 1st

On April 29th, the British Embassy in Madrid announced that the UK-issued driving licences of people who’ve been residing in Spain for more than six months will no longer be valid from May 1st 2022, adding that they will “rapidly accelerate talks” to find a solution but giving no further grace period to drivers left in limbo.

The last-minute announcement, posted just hours before the April 30th deadline for UK licence validity, confirms one of the worst case scenarios for British driving licence holders living in Spain.

“Driving a vehicle without a valid licence is illegal in Spain,” the UK embassy stressed.

“If you are affected by this change and need to drive, you should not wait for the outcome of the negotiations and should take immediate steps to apply for a Spanish licence – as we have been advising for some time now.”

Spanish authorities have previously given UK driving licence holders four grace periods (of three or two months in length each), but there has been no further extension of UK licence validity granted this time.

So does this mean there is no deal and UK drivers residing in Spain will have to sit their practical test with a Spanish-speaking examiner to get a Spanish licence?

It’s still unclear. According to the British ambassador, Spanish and British authorities have “agreed to rapidly accelerate talks next week in the hope of reaching an agreement soon as we already have in almost every other EU Member State”.

Another travel ban extension  for unvaccinated non-EU holidaymakers

The Spanish government on April 30th extended again temporary restrictions for non-essential travel from most third countries, but this time only for two weeks.

That means non-EU/Schengen adults who reside outside of the EU and haven’t been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 or recently recovered from the illness cannot go on holiday to Spain until at least May 15th.

In other words, Spain continues to not accept negative Covid-19 tests from British, American, Canadian, South African or other third-country nationals who are neither vaccinated nor recently recovered. 

Earlier extensions of the July 2020 regulation were usually for another month, but on Saturday April 30th 2022, Spanish health authorities announced they would only extend the restrictions on non-essential travel from outside of the bloc for just 15 days.

This suggests that it may be only a matter of weeks before Spain fully reopens to all non-EU/Schengen tourists even if they aren’t vaccinated or recently recovered from Covid-19. Whether they will have to provide a negative Covid test to be allowed to enter Spain remains to be seen.

Fiestas are back on

Many of Spain’s beloved festivals are back on this May after a two-year hiatus during the pandemic.

Seville’s famed Feria de Abril, celebrating everything to do with flamenco, horses and Andalusian culture will be held from May 1st until May 2nd, while Córdoba’s Fiesta de Los Patios will be on from May 3rd until the 15th, where visitors will be able to see inside the city’s gorgeous courtyard gardens, decorated with all manner of flowers. 

Other May celebrations taking place include the Cruces de Mayo, where floral-decorated crosses are set up in several cities across the country and Girona’s Temps de Flors flower festival. 

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