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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

KEY POINTS: What changes about life in Spain in December 2022

From Christmas festivities and public holidays to the latest on the Startups Law and a price drop on thousands of medicines, become a member to find out about all the important changes in Spain in the last month of 2022.

KEY POINTS: What changes about life in Spain in December 2022

Puentes and Christmas holidays

December is of course the month when the Christmas holidays take place, but even before that there are several public holidays to enjoy. These take place during the week of December 5th to the 11th, with Tuesday the 6th being Spanish Constitution Day and Thursday December 8th the Day of the Immaculate Conception. Both days are national public holidays across all regions.

Because of this, many workers decide to take a ‘puente’ or bridge the two public holidays together and take an extra vacation day in between. This could either be taking December 5th as a holiday and having a long weekend from the 3rd to the 6th or taking Friday the 9th off work and taking a break between the 8th and the 11th.

This year Christmas Day, December 25th falls on a Sunday, so the public holiday will be moved to Monday, December 26th in most regions across Spain.

Medicines are getting cheaper

More than 17,000 different types of medications will be getting cheaper in Spain next month, officially coming into force on Tuesday, November 29th. Spain’s Health Ministry estimates that this could save up to €270.89 million – €229 million in hospitals and €41.75 million in pharmacies. The Minimum Reference Price for medicines will now be set at €1.60.

It’s important to remember though, that people will not see the difference in price in the pharmacies until January 1st 2023, as the distributors will maintain the previous sale price until December 31st 2022.

Spain could experience Arctic weather

After such a scorching summer with various heatwaves, plus the hottest month since records began in July and the hottest October on record, perhaps it’s time for Spain to experience a cold snap. Weather experts believe that December could see cold air flow from the Arctic, which will produce extended periods of rain.

The spokesman for Spain’s State Meteorological Agency AEMET, Ruben del Campo said that a cold snap “couldn’t be ruled out” and that the Artic weather could arrive “in the coming weeks”. “Right now it’s impossible to say exactly when and where, though,” he continued.

One effect of this cold snap will be heavier and more frequent rains, more like the amount of rain that was seen in the spring of 2018.

EU to reach a gas deal

At the end of November, the EU agreed to postpone its agreement on a price cap for gas purchases between different member states until December. Spain’s Minister of Ecological Transition Teresa Ribera said that she hopes the European Commission can reach a deal on December 13th at the next meeting of the Energy Council.

The EU originally suggested a gas “safety ceiling” of €275 per megawatt hour as the bloc grapples with high energy prices spurred by Moscow’s war in Ukraine and supply cuts. The only time the TTF gas price has gone above the €275 limit, however, was between August 22nd and 29th this year and Ribera has been very critical of the proposal.

These conditions are designed to particularly satisfy Germany and the Netherlands who are very reluctant to sign a deal.

Events in December

The festive month is filled with all kinds of activities and events in Spain besides Christmas. The Carnavalcázar de Alcázar de San Juan in Castilla-La Mancha will take place, being the only town in Spain to celebrate its carnival in December.  

On December 24th the musical performances of Canto de la Sibila will be held in churches across the island of Mallorca, a tradition which has been inscribed onto UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Then on December 28th, Spain celebrates the Día de los Santos Inocentes (Day of the Holy Innocents), its version of April Fools when people play pranks and jokes throughout the day.

New Year’s Eve or Noche Vieja is also a big deal in Spain, with plenty of parties, family dinners and the tradition of eating 12 grapes at midnight to bring good luck for the year ahead.

Could a UK licence deal finally become reality?

On November 18th, the UK Ambassador to Spain Hugh Elliott confirmed that “two outstanding issues” delaying negotiations have now been resolved. 

“What I can’t tell you today is exactly how many weeks those final steps will take,” he added.

The remaining processes include legal checks, securing ministerial approval on both sides, which for Spain is by the Consejo de Ministros (the Spanish Cabinet), and the necessary treaty processes and formal exchanges, explained Elliott.

“At that point (when the law comes into force) you will then have six months to exchange your UK licence for a Spanish one and during that time you will be able to drive using your existing valid UK licence,” he confirmed.

READ MORE: Deal on UK licences in Spain agreed but still no exchange date

Works scheduled on Madrid Metro

Metro Madrid has confirmed that during the month of December it will close line 7 in order to remove asbestos from the tunnels. They will close the station Avenida de América from December 3rd to 18th and a free substitute bus service will run for those commuters affected. 

Other lines that stop at Avenida de América – 4, 6 and 9, will not be affected and will work normally.

The final vote on Spain’s startups law will take place

The final vote on the much-anticipated startups law and digital nomad visa is due to take place on December 1st by the Congress of Deputies. The law was originally proposed back in 2018. 

If it passes, it means that it will enter into legislation before Christmas, paving the way for many startup companies and digital nomads to make their move to Spain in 2023. 

READ ALSO – Spain’s new digital nomad visa: Everything we know so far

Many transport tickets will continue to be free after December 2022

The Spanish government initially stated that multi-journey train tickets would be free across much of Spain on Cercanías, Rodalies and Media Distancia trains from September-December 2022, however, this has been extended into 2023. 

Spain’s Budget Minister María Jesús Montero announced the move in October saying that it will be extended until at least December 2023 when the measure’s economic and environmental impact will be evaluated. 

At the end of November, the Spanish government also announced that many long-distance buses will go from being half-price to free in 2023.

Inflation is showing signs of slowing down in December

Inflation stood at 6.8 percent in November, according to Spain’s National Institute of Statistics (INE) and for the fourth consecutive month it has been falling, since a high of 10.8 percent in July, the highest level seen in 38 years. 

This means that inflation could continue to ease in December, making Christmas shopping just that little bit kinder on our wallets. Of course shopping for Christmas dinner will still be more expensive than in 2021, but will be much more affordable than if we had to buy it in the summer of this year. 

READ ALSO: Which food should you buy early in Spain to save on Christmas costs?

Spain to keep limiting rent increases throughout 2023

The law on limiting the amount landlords can increase the rent by was also due to expire in December 2022, but at the end of November the Spanish government confirmed that this would extend into 2023.

This means that landlords can only increase rent by a maximum of 2 percent throughout 2023, shielding renters from rising inflation.

Prior to this many landlords had the right to increase the price of the rent on a yearly basis based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI), the figure used to measure inflation.

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