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FACT CHECK: Do you still need Covid documents to travel to Spain?

There has been some confusion in the Spanish and English-language press following the announcement this week that Spain has scrapped its Covid health travel form. Here’s what Brits, Americans and other international travellers need to know about Spain’s existing travel restrictions. 

Do you still need a Covid certificate to travel to Spain?
A Covid-19 certificate or passport is one document, and Spain’s health control form is another; they are not the same. (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO / AFP)

(Scroll down to the bottom if you want the quick answer).

In recent days, Spanish authorities have made two important announcements regarding the country’s Covid-19 entry rules for foreigners. 

Firstly, Spain extended until November 15th the requirement that non-EU visitors must show a Covid-19 vaccination, test or recovery certificate to enter the country. 

A few days later, the Spanish government announced it would no longer require any international travellers to fill in and show its SpTH health control form.

For those who are unfamiliar with Spain’s complex Covid travel rules, the two changes seemed to contradict each other, or suggest that Spain had U-turned on its decision. 

Indeed, UK newspapers such as The Independent wrongly ran with “Spain finally drops all Covid travel restrictions”, a headline it has since amended. 

Even Spain’s national broadcaster RTVE stated that Spain had ditched the Covid passport requirement.

Both these statements are incorrect.

To clarify, a Covid-19 certificate or passport is one document, and Spain’s health control form is another; they are not the same. 

A Covid-19 certificate is issued by authorities in the country where you were vaccinated or tested, whereas the SpTH form was issued by Spanish authorities.

In any case, the SpTH health control form is now officially not required and will not have to be completed by any international traveller arriving in Spain by air or sea.

The discontinuation of this travel form means that non-EU tourists such as Americans, Australians and Canadians and all other non-EU travellers no longer have to complete this step before arrival in Spain.

For British tourists visiting Spain nothing changes in this regard as the UK has long been on the list of 48 non-EU countries with a certificate equivalency deal with the EU, which exempted their nationals from having to fill in Spain’s health control form. 

Now for the other important matter. 

Non-EU tourists visiting Spain still need to show proof of vaccination, testing or recovery to visit Spain. 

It applies to all non-EU travellers over the age of 12, but it does not apply to EU citizens or third-country nationals who reside in the EU.

This long-standing Covid travel rule remains in place until at least November 15th 2022.

There was no U-turn in this regard as there is no mention of the Covid-19 passport or certificate being ditched in the Spanish state bulletin (BOE) that focused on the cancellation of the SpTH form. 

Therefore, non-EU tourists such as Britons, Americans, Australians, Canadians or New Zealanders still have to show one of three documents to be able to enter Spain. These are: 

  • A Covid-19 vaccination certificate –  Your vaccination status must meet the Spanish authorities’ validity period requirements. If more than 270 days have passed since your initial vaccination, you need to show proof of a booster shot.
  • A negative Covid-19 test – This should be either a PCR taken within 72 hours prior of departure or an antigen test, taken within 24 hours prior of departure. 
  • A recovery certificate –  This must be dated within the last six months. You can use a medical certificate or recovery record to prove your Covid-19 status.

Face masks are also still required on planes which are bound for Spain, but you don’t have to wear one at the airport.

Member comments

  1. I arrived back in Spain after a week in the UK. 3 Jet2 planes landed before our Ryanair flight. No one was asked to show their Covid vaccination certificate.

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TRAVEL NEWS

TRAVEL: Spain to scrap Covid temperature and visual checks 

From October 20th, non-EU travellers arriving in Spain will no longer undergo health checks by airport officials to assess if they have Covid-19, sources from Spanish airport manager Aena are quoted as saying. 

TRAVEL: Spain to scrap Covid temperature and visual checks 

Spanish health authorities are reportedly planning to remove another Covid-19 travel restriction: temperature and visual checks on international passengers arriving in Spain. 

This has been reported by Catalan newspaper El Periódico, although it has not yet been officially confirmed by the country’s Health Ministry. 

Since the start of the pandemic, passengers arriving by air or sea in Spain have had their temperature checked by airport authorities in order to assess if they had a high temperature, with either thermal cameras at security gates or infrared thermometers pointed at their foreheads.

Visual evaluations to see if passengers display clear signs of being infected with Covid-19 have also been carried out.

In theory, if the screening suggests passengers could well have Covid-19, they are required to carry out a Covid-19 test at the airport before being allowed to leave.

It is also possible that passengers are asked what non-EU country they were travelling from for officials to cross-check this against Spain’s list of high-risk countries.

It’s worth noting that as the pandemic has evolved, these tests at Spanish airports have become far less rigorous than they were initially.

Passengers arriving from another EU country have for some time now not gone through such screening, but those arriving from outside of the bloc technically are still subject to checks, even though there are no third countries on Spain’s Covid high-risk list anymore.

Additionally, it is no longer mandatory to self-isolate if you test positive for the coronavirus in Spain, even though limiting social interactions is advised.

According to Catalonia’s El Periódico, sources from Spain’s public airport manager Aena have confirmed that these health controls at airports and seaports across Spain will continue until Thursday October 20th 2022, when they will officially end.  

Spain’s Health Ministry did recently confirm that from September 20th it would stop asking international travellers to complete the Spth health control form to present upon arrival in Spain, but the state bulletin (BOE) did not put in writing the end of temperature and visual checks at airports and seaports. 

Some Spanish newspapers have reported that such checks also ended on September 20th, but this is not correct as the BOE refers to the cancellation of anex 8 and 9, which relate to the Spth health control form and cruiseship travel restrictions. 

As of September 27th 2022, the Aena website states: “It is no longer necessary to complete the health screening form to travel to Spain or to present the QR code at the destination airport. Passengers on flights from countries outside the European Union or the Schengen Area may be subjected to a health check that includes a visual check of their physical condition and temperature taking with non-contact thermometers or thermographic cameras.”

If the end of temperature and visual checks is confirmed by Spanish health authorities, the only two remaining Covid travel restrictions in Spain will be mask wearing on planes and other means of transport as well as proof of vaccination, testing or recovery from non-EU tourist arrivals.

READ MORE: Do you still need Covid-19 documents to travel to Spain?

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