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COVID-19 RULES

What are the new Covid-19 rules for travel between the US and Spain this summer?

Travel between the US and Spain has been back on for a while, but what are the latest rules you need to know regarding vaccination, Covid-19 recovery status and other documentation you have to present?

American airlines travel
Travel between US and Spain. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP

Travel from the US to Spain. What’s new?

For the first time in more than two years, Spain has now opened up to unvaccinated non-EU/Schengen tourists. 

As of May 21st 2022, unvaccinated American tourists have been able to travel to Spain if they show proof of a negative Covid-19 test. These are the same rules that apply to EU nationals and residents.

READ ALSO – EXPLAINED: Spain’s new rules for unvaccinated non-EU tourists

Spain’s testing requirements for non-EU/Schengen tourists apply to those aged 12 and older, children under that age are exempt from having to prove testing, vaccination or recovery.

Fully vaccinated travellers

If you are entering Spain on the basis that you are vaccinated, you must have received the last required dose of their Covid-19 vaccine no less than 14 days, and no more than 270 days (9 months), prior to arrival in Spain.

The US embassy in Spain states that if more than 270 days (9 months) have passed since receiving the last required dose of their Covid-19 vaccine, travellers must show proof of having received a booster shot at least 14 days prior to arrival in Spain.  

READ MORE: Do I need a Covid-19 booster shot to travel to Spain in May?

Spain accepts all Covid vaccines which have been approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and World Health Organisation (WHO). 

Any children or teenagers aged 17 and under are exempt from having to show a vaccination certificate in Spain, however those aged 12 to 17 must show a negative PCR test taken within the last 72 hours (if they can’t show a recovery certificate). 

READ ALSO: Spain allows entry of non-EU travellers if they have recovery certificate

Recovered travellers 

In February 2022, new rules came into effect to allow those who are unvaccinated, but who have recovered from Covid-19 in the last six months to enter Spain.

According to Spain’s Health Ministry, recovery certificates accepted as valid are those “issued at least 11 days after the first positive NAAT or RAT, and up to a maximum of 180 days after the date of sampling”.

NAATs – nucleic acid amplification tests – are usually PCR tests whereas RATs stand for rapid antigen tests. The Covid test must have been carried out by an accredited laboratory; self-test kits are not valid. 

Unvaccinated travellers

Americans who are unvaccinated and are not residents in Spain are required to get either a PCR test, which must be carried out in the 72 hours prior to departure or an antigen test, 24 hours prior to departure.

Covid tests accepted are those authorised by the European Commission and must have been performed by healthcare professionals, therefore self-tests are not valid. 

Documents

All travellers from the US, unless they have an EU equivalent Digital Covid Certificate, must fill out Spain’s Travel Health form prior to arrival, which can be found here. You can also access it by downloading the SpTH app in Google Play Store or iTunes App Store for each traveller.  

Once this has been filled out, travellers will receive a QR code which they must present before boarding and again once they arrive in Spain. This must be done, even if you are transiting through Spain on your way to another country.

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

There is no need to quarantine upon arrival in Spain. Spain has also recently scrapped quarantines for mild and asymptomatic cases.

However, Spain’s Health Ministry recommends that infected people limit contact and wear a mask at all times. 

Quarantines will remain mandatory for serious cases and those classified as part of the high-risk or vulnerable population, which includes those over 60 years of age, immunosuppressed people and pregnant women. 

You may have to quarantine at your own expense unless you have adequate health insurance which covers you.

Rules and restrictions on the ground in Spain

While most of the Covid restrictions have been relaxed, there are still some which remain in place across Spain. These vary a lot between different regions, so it will depend on where you travel to within Spain. These could include capacity limits at certain venues.

Face masks are no longer required outdoors or indoors, except on public transport and inside hospitals and other health centres. 

READ ALSO: What are Spain’s new mask rules for travel?

Travel from Spain to the US

All non-US citizens who travel to the US by air must be fully vaccinated in order to be able to board the plane. This means that those from Spain can show their EU Digital Covid Certificates as proof.

The United States will accept all vaccines that have been approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO) or the FDA.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you are considered fully vaccinated if at least two weeks (14 days) have passed since your last dose. This means a full series of an accepted COVID-19 vaccine – one dose for the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine and two doses for all others, including “mix and match combination of accepted Covid-19 vaccines administered at least 17 days apart”. 

It also states that unlike Spain and the EU “A booster dose is not needed to meet this requirement”.

Negative Covid-19 Test

All air passengers, regardless of vaccination status, who want to enter the US over two years old, are also required to show a negative Covid-19 test result taken no more than one day before travel, or documentation showing that they have recovered from Covid-19 in the past 90 days, before they board their flight.

These can either be antigen tests or PCR tests. Self-administered antigen tests are not allowed unless they have been carried out with a telehealth provider, which has been authorised by the FDA.

According to the CDC tests must show the following information:

  1. Type of test (indicating it is a NAAT or antigen test)
  2. Entity issuing the result (e.g., laboratory, healthcare entity, or telehealth service)
  3. Sample collection date
    • A negative test result must show the sample was taken no more than 1 day before the flight.
    • A positive test result for documentation of recovery from Covid-19 must show the sample was taken within 90 days before the flight.
  4. Information that identifies the person (full name plus at least one other identifier such as date of birth or passport number)
  5. Test result

Recovery Certificate

The US Embassy in Spain states: “If you recently recovered from COVID-19, you may travel with documentation of recovery from Covid-19 (i.e., your positive COVID-19 viral test result on a sample taken no more than 90 days before the flight’s departure from a foreign country and a letter from a licensed healthcare provider or a public health official stating that you were cleared to travel)”.

All passengers will also be required to confirm this in the form of an attestation that the information they present is true.

Those who are US citizens or permanent US residents and are returning from Spain will not need to show this to enter.

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TRAVEL NEWS

Spain’s free train tickets to continue throughout 2023

The Spanish government has announced that its free multi-journey train ticket scheme, which was created in a bid to help commuters fight inflation, will be extended for another year until at least December 2023.

Spain's free train tickets to continue throughout 2023

Spain’s Budget Minister María Jesús Montero made the announcement on Tuesday October 4th during the presentation of Spain’s General State Budgets for 2023.

The free train travel offer came into force on September 1st and was originally due to end on December 31st 2022, but Montero has now confirmed it will be extended until at least December 2023 when the measure’s economic and environmental impact will be evaluated. 

The offer is available on trains operated by the state-owned train network Renfe, including Cercanías, Rodalies (in Catalonia), and Media Distancia (local and medium-distance journeys).

Crucially, it’s only offered on special multi-journey tickets, not on single journeys or high-speed AVE trains. 

 GUIDE: How to get free train tickets in Spain

In order to obtain the free travel offer, passengers must pay a €10 deposit on Cercanías or Rodalies and a €20 deposit on Media Distancia trains. The deposit will be returned at the end of the year if at least 16 trips have been made during the initial four months.

Now that the offer has been extended, however, it is unclear exactly how many trips travellers will have to make to get their deposits back going forward into 2023.

READ ALSO: Spain changes conditions for free train travel

Since the start of the free ticket plan, trips on Media Distancia trains grew by 40 percent since September 2022 and on Cercanías trains by 24 percent.

So far, 1.5 million free multi-journey tickets have already been requested and the goal is to reach 2 million during the rest of the year.

In order to finance the original measure, the government confirmed that €221 million would be allocated to regional governments and transport authorities across the country. More may now be needed in order to extend it. 

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