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MYTHBUSTERS: Are UK tourists in Spain really being asked to prove €100 a day?

Dozens of articles in the UK press are warning British tourists that post-Brexit they could have to prove they have €100 (£85) for each day they spend on holiday in Spain. But is there any evidence of this actually happening? 

Are UK tourists in Spain really being asked to prove €100 a day?
UK tourists arriving in Spain can prove their financial sufficiency through a number of documents, but it almost certainly won't be necessary. (Photo by GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT / AFP)

It’s the height of summer and with fewer Covid-19 restrictions in both Spain and the United Kingdom, UK tourists are flocking back to their favourite overseas holiday destination: España

In June 2022, 2.07 million UK holidaymakers visited Spain, despite the rise in flight prices and travel chaos (cancellations, delays, lost luggage) that has arisen as the world gradually returns to its usual fast pace. 

But there’s something else now worrying UK tourists with flights booked for Spain – the apparent requirement to prove they have enough money to cover their Spanish holiday costs now that they are non-EU nationals.

Numerous UK newspapers, from The Telegraph to The Independent to of course The Daily Mail and The Sun, have been running articles warning UK holidaymakers that they could be turned away if they can’t show proof of having €100 (£85) for every day of holiday they are spending in Spain.

The Daily Express went with the headline “Fury as EU ‘punishes’ British holidaymakers – now UK tourists forced to pay to enter Spain”.

Radio station LBC ran with the equally over-the-top “Brexit fury: Tourists slam rule which requires Brits to have £85 to spend per day in Spain”.

So is there any truth to the dramatic warnings in the UK press?

Yes, it is theoretically true, but this is neither a new rule nor one that applies only to UK nationals, as much as some sectors of the UK press insist on making it all about Britons and alleged attacks on their freedoms.

As non-EU nationals who are not from a Schengen Area country either (the United Kingdom never was in Schengen), UK tourists entering Spain could have certain requirements with which to comply if asked by Spanish border officials.

These include rules relating to their passport validity, proof of a return ticket, documents proving their purpose of entry into Spain, limits on the amount of time they can spend in Spain (the 90 out of 180 days Schengen rule), proof of accommodation, a letter of invitation if staying with friends or family (another controversial subject when it emerged) and yes, proof of sufficient financial means for the trip.

READ MORE: What Britons could be asked to prove when visiting Spain

Third-country nationals who seek to enter Spain may need to attest to having at least €100 per day (£85), with a minimum of €900 (around £760) per person regardless of the intended duration of the stay. It is unclear whether this could also possibly apply to minors.

Is there actually any evidence of this happening?

No. There are no reports of UK tourists flying to Spain after becoming non-EU nationals and being turned away on the basis of not having the financial means to cover the expenses of their visit.

The only hiccups that have arisen post-Brexit have been at the land border between Gibraltar and Spain, with the case in 2021 of a UK national who was denied entry over a missing passport stamp, and in April of this year Spanish border officials tightening checks on UK nationals (non-residents in Spain) and Gibraltarians

However, in the latter case travellers were reportedly asked to demonstrate both travel and accommodation plans before being allowed to enter Spain, nothing relating to financial means. 

These issues may have come about as a result of political wrangling over ongoing negotiations on a deal outlining Gibraltar’s future relationship with the EU, and have nothing to do with UK tourists heading to Spain for a holiday.

There is some anecdotal evidence from other third-country tourists entering other EU/Schengen countries such as France suggesting that financial checks can happen but are rare. With millions of people travelling into the EU on a daily basis, how could there not be?

So all things considered, it’s been quite a stretch for UK newspapers to run these articles and refer to the financial means requisite as a “new rule”, one directed just at UK nationals and one drafted by the Spanish government. It’s not the first time this ‘news’ been in the British press either.

Some have linked to Spain’s Interior Ministry website but there is no evidence that the rules are any different to what they were a week ago, a month ago, or a year ago.

In fact, means of subsistence is regulated by Regulation (Ec) No 810/2009 of The European Parliament, introduced back in 2009.

Based on empirical evidence, it’s highly unlikely that UK tourists arriving in Spain will be asked to show proof of financial resources, but to be on the safe side they should have it available anyway. 

After all, Spain may be less expensive than the United Kingdom but it isn’t that cheap. Some may say that if you don’t have more than £750, you shouldn’t really be going on holiday abroad. 

You can prove your financial sufficiency through recent bank statements, a credit card, a banking app, cash, payslips, traveller’s cheques, supporting documents to attest your sponsor’s readiness to cover your costs, proof of prepaid accommodation and so on.

UPDATE: The Local Spain contacted the UK Embassy in Madrid regarding this matter. They replied saying that their team had slightly reworded their advice for UK nationals visiting Spain in a bid to further clarify the already existing rules.

“We wanted to clarify that there have been no changes to the guidance this summer,” The UK Embassy stressed on its Brits in Spain Facebook group.

“In summary, UK nationals entering the Schengen zone (in any country) as tourists may need to provide additional documents at the border.”

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What you should know if you’re travelling to Spain in December

The rules, the least busy travel times, the strikes, the free travel deals, what you can’t check in - here’s what you need to know if you’re travelling to Spain in December or at Christmas.

What you should know if you're travelling to Spain in December

December is a busy travel period with many foreigners leaving Spain to celebrate Christmas with their families back in their home countries and many others travelling to Spain for a holiday or to spend time with their loved ones here.

Airline strikes and an increase in passengers could make travelling this winter a little more challenging, but here’s everything to need to know, so you can be prepared. 

According to Spain’s airport operator Aena, the number of airline tickets sold for travel to Spain over the winter season is set to exceed the number in 2019-2020, before the Covid-19 pandemic.

Also, last winter saw the rise of the Omicron variant and some countries introduced new restrictions, so many foreign residents decided not to go back to see their families over the holidays. This means that this year could see more people wanting to return after several years of not having celebrated together with their families. 

Therefore, airports could be particularly busy this December, so make sure you leave plenty of time for getting through security and passport control.

There is still one important Covid travel rule in Spain

Although the majority of Spain’s domestic and travel Covid-19 restrictions were lifted before the summer of 2022, one of the only rules that still remains in place is the obligation of wearing a face mask on public transport.

This includes aeroplanes, buses, trains, taxis and some ferries, but mask wearing isn’t compulsory at airports, ports or bus and train stations.

As things stand, the general rule is that cabin crew from all airlines have to tell passengers on planes bound to Spain that they have to wear masks.

If on the other hand the aircraft is flying out of Spain, the mask rules of the country which the plane is flying to apply, which in almost all cases means face coverings aren’t required.

Spain’s flagship airline Iberia has criticised the Spanish government’s ongoing mask requirement for passengers on planes bound to the country, stressing that it “doesn’t make any sense” and “it affects tourism”.

Although it is no longer compulsory to present a negative Covid-19 test to fly, Spanish health and airport authorities ask that anyone with Covid-19 symptoms avoid travel.

It is no longer necessary either for travellers to fill in health control forms before flying to Spain as was previously the case, and there are no bans or restrictions on non-EU or other specific countries.

Which are the least busy days for travelling to Spain in December?

According to flight search engine Skyscanner, which has analysed nine million searches for people looking to travel to Spain over the festive period, some of the quietest days to travel to Spain are from the 18th to the 23rd, with the 23rd being the least popular before Christmas.

If you’re wanting to fly to Spain after Christmas, however, you’ll find it even quieter on December 28th, as well as January 1st, 3rd, 4th, 6th and 7th. You may find Spanish cities to be fairly busy however as December 6th and 8th are public holidays.

Conversely, the most popular days to travel are between December 12th and the 17th, so avoid those days if you want to avoid the crowds. 

Who is travelling to Spain this December? 

According to new data released by Spain’s Tourism Ministry, during the last month of the year, 7,066,101 people have booked seats, which implies a recovery of 97.4 percent compared to the same month of 2019. 

Forecasts for the early December holidays reveal that Italians, Germans and French are the main tourists who will be visiting Spain. During the puentes and public holidays on December 6th and 8th, Italians will make up the majority of tourists travelling to Spain (23 percent), followed by Germans (17 percent), French (16 percent), British (10 percent) and finally the Portuguese (6 percent).

Airline strikes

Several airline strikes have also been called for this winter, mainly involving low-cost airlines Vueling and Ryanair.

The Vueling strikes are due to take place on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, Mondays and public holidays. They began on November 1st 2022 and will run right through the Christmas period to January 31st 2023.

Specifically, this means that those travelling on December 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 6th, 8th, 9th,10th and 11th may be affected by cancellations. 

Additional days that will be affected include December 24th, 31st and January 5th 2023, affecting those passengers who plan on travelling for Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and Three Kings’ Day.

The workers are demanding a wage increase in line with the rise in prices due to inflation, as well as protesting over the precarious work conditions that have been experienced within the sector since even before the pandemic.  

Many passengers are currently being offered alternative flights, refunds or other compensation if their flights are cancelled. 

Ryanair baggage handlers and on-the-ground staff have also been striking and will continue to do so until January 7th, 2023.

It’s likely these airports will include Alicante, Barcelona, Madrid, Málaga, Palma de Mallorca and Seville, however, it’s worth noting that Ryanair has said that it doesn’t expect this strike to cause that much disruption.

Bringing food and goods in from the UK and other non-EU countries

One of the advantages of going back to your home country for Christmas is not only to see your friends and family but also to stock up on treats and ingredients you’ve missed while living in Spain. Think mince pies, custard powder and Marmite for those going back to the UK.

But as this is the second Christmas since Brexit came into force, many may still not be totally aware of what they’re now allowed to bring to Spain from non-EU countries.

The EU’s strict rules mean that all imports of animal-derived products are not allowed. This means no Christmas puddings with suet, no British bacon and blocks and Wensleydale or Cheddar cheese to bring back with you.

If you want to know exactly what you can and can’t bring in this Christmas, read our detailed guide here

Bringing food from Spain into the UK, is a little easier as you’re still allowed to bring in EU products, so packets of jamón and Manchego cheese are ok to take.

Travel within Spain

Those who are planning on travelling within Spain this Christmas, either to visit friends and family or simply for the fun of travel should know that there are currently lots of travel discounts, particularly on trains.

Multi-journey tickets are currently free on Cercanías, Rodalies and Media Distancia trains and are worth paying the €10 or €20 deposit for if you’re going to be making the same journey several times during your trip.

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For example, if you’re planning on spending the holiday in the small Catalan town of Sitges, but know that you’ll be making several trips to Barcelona during that time for sightseeing, shopping or eating out, then it could be worth it.

Unfortunately, the free tickets are not available on long-distance trains, but you can still get a bargain on these this winter as Spain’s new low-cost train operator Iryo recently launched.

This means that you can get tickets from Madrid to Barcelona as well as Valencia and Málaga for an average of €18 each. 

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