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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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WHAT CHANGES IN SPAIN

KEY POINTS: What changes in Spain in July 2022?

July sees the start of the summer holidays in Spain and brings with it new crisis handouts, VAT cuts on energy bills, travel chaos and a possible deal on UK driving licences. Join The Local Spain as a member to find out about this and plenty more.

KEY POINTS: What changes in Spain in July 2022?

€200 crisis payment available in July 

As part of their new draft of measures to help those struggling with the rising cost of living, the Spanish government announced they would give a one-off €200 handout to the most vulnerable individuals.

The payment plan is set to be activated this month and you can find out who is eligible and how to apply for it here.

According to Spain’s Tax Minister María Jesús Montero, approximately 2.7 million people in Spain will be able to benefit from the scheme. Individuals can request the €200 payment, as can families, but only one payment per household is allowed.

VAT on electricity bills cut by half 

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez recently announced that the government would apply a further reduction in VAT on electricity bills, which has now been approved by the cabinet. This means that a VAT reduction, from 10 to five percent, will be applied to electricity bills from July onwards.  

Find out how much you could save on your electricity bill with the new VAT discount here

Travel chaos continues

In the lead-up to the summer holidays, there has been travel chaos across Europe, including in Spain, due to flight cancellations, staff shortages and strikes. Unfortunately, the travel misery is only set to continue into July as several Spain-based cabin crew, including those from easyJet, Ryanair and Lufthansa have announced strikes.

EasyJet staff are scheduled to go on a nine-day strike on July 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 15th, 16th, 17th, 29th, 30th and 31st. Meanwhile, the Ryanair strike, which started on June 24th will continue on July 1st and 2nd. Over 54 flights have already been cancelled by the low-cost airline and more than 300 have been delayed.

German carrier Lufthansa and its budget airline brand, Eurowings are also planning to cancel more than 3,000 flights this summer due to both staff shortages and strikes. This is expected to affect flights from the hubs of Frankfurt and Munich to Spain, among others. 

Could there finally be a deal on UK driving licences?

The British Ambassador to Spain Hugh Elliott recently shared his latest update on the driving licence negotiations between the UK and Spain, indicating a possible agreement to have affected drivers back on the road by the end of July 2022.

“The UK and Spain are now in agreement on the core issues that have been problematic and we’re now very close to finalising the actual text of the agreement,” he explained.

This will be a great relief for many British residents in Spain who were unable to exchange their licence for a Spanish one and haven’t been allowed on the roads since May 1st 2022.

Scorching weather returns to Spain in July

After a brief respite from the mid-June heatwaves, the hot weather is set to return in July. According to the weather site Meteored, the first week of July will see storms and unpredictable weather in the north of the country, while temperatures could reach over 40°C in the south of the country around Córdoba and Seville.

The middle of the month from July 11th to 17th is set to see temperatures rise again. It’s likely that much of Extremadura and Andalusia will experience temperatures around 40°C, while it could also reach 38°C in Bilbao and Madrid.

The last two weeks of July will get even hotter with Meteored predicting the hottest temperatures of the whole year. Temperatures are expected to be above normal in all regions apart from along the Cantabrian coast and in the Canary Islands.

Summer sales go into full throttle

July 1st sees the official start of the summer sales throughout much of Spain, although many stores have started even earlier. With rising costs due to inflation, this is the time of year to benefit from some of the biggest discounts.

Amazon has two days scheduled for its sales from July 12th-13th, while H&M and all the retail stores belonging to Spanish clothing giant Inditex (Zara, Massimo Dutti, Bershka, Pull & Bear and Stradivarius) are also due to have their sales this month.

After the start of the sales, you’ll see signs for “segundas rebajas” (second sales), then “terceras rebajas” and finally “remate final” (final push), where discounts progressively go from 30 percent to 40, then 50 and finally down to an incredible 70 percent price reduction. 

Imserso holiday scheme for pensioners kicks off 

Imserso is a social scheme offering holidays to the elderly, which aim to offer subsidised trips to pensioners. Applications for the vacation scheme this year are open from June 27th to July 19th and usually run during the low season from October. Find out how to apply here.

Depending on the dates you go and the type of accommodation you stay in, you will usually have to pay between €115 and €405 for the trip.

Vehicles in Spain need to have Intelligent Speed Assistance

New cars sold in Spain and across the EU must have automatic Intelligent Speed Assistance technology from July 6th as part of the General Safety Regulation.

All newly launched models will need to have Intelligent Speed Assistance systems installed as standard. The idea is to limit speeds and warn drivers to slow down if they’re over the legal speed limit.

Festivals in Spain in July

July sees a whole host of festivals and celebrations across the country. Most famous are the San Fermín Running of the Bulls, held in Pamplona from July 6th – 14th and the Fiestas de Santiago Apóstol, held in the Galician city on July 25th.

Other festivities taking place in July include Bilbao’s BBK music festival from the 7th to the 9th and the Moors and Christians parades in Villajoyosa from the 23rd to 24th, commemorating the battle of 1538.

Pride celebrations are also set to return in July. Madrid’s LGBTIQ+ festival will take place from July 1st to 10th throughout many areas of the city but concentrated around Chueca.

New law to improve rights of domestic workers

A new law could be approved this month to improve the rights of domestic workers so that they have the same rights as other workers, such as the right to unemployment benefits and proper wages.

A third of the 536,100 domestics (mostly women) who work in Spain are not signed up to Spain’s social security system, according to the country’s Labour Force Survey. Two out of every three have earnings around the minimum wage bracket.

Early last year the Spanish government sent out letters to Spanish households who employ workers to warn them of their obligations.

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