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TRAVEL NEWS

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

Spain has dropped most Covid-19 restrictions, but do foreign residents in Spain travelling back to the Spanish territory from an EU or non-EU country still need to show proof of vaccination, testing or recovery in September and October 2022?

Do residents still need Covid documents to travel back to Spain?
A woman shows her Digital Covid certificate at Barcelona's El Prat airport. Find out if foreign residents in Spain still need to show Covid-19 documents when flying back to Spain. (Photo by Pau BARRENA / AFP)

The Covid-19 pandemic no longer dominates daily life or travel in Spain.

In recent days, the Spanish government has scrapped the Spth health control form for all travellers and soon it will stop carrying out temperature and visual checks on non-EU arrivals

That’s not to say that all of Spain’s Covid-19 travel restrictions have been lifted. Non-EU tourists still need to show Covid-19 documents to be allowed into Spain, and on planes that are bound for Spain passengers must wear face masks

But how about for foreign residents in Spain who are travelling back to the Spanish territory after a holiday abroad or a visit to their country of origin? 

For example, would a UK or US national who legally resides in Spain and who has just spent a couple of weeks back in their country of origin need to show proof of vaccination, testing or recovery when they arrived back in Spain?

The question is not so much whether you’re a resident in Spain, but rather which country you’re travelling to Spain from. 

If it’s a non-EU/Schengen country, then you technically have to show Covid documents. If you’re completely unvaccinated or more than 270 days have passed since your last Covid-19 vaccine, you’ll need to present proof of a negative PCR or antigen test. That’s irregardless of whether you’re a Spanish national or foreign resident in Spain. 

Do residents still need Covid documents to travel back to Spain
Screenshot from travelsafe.spain.info showing how an unvaccinated UK national who is resident in Spain needs to get a Covid test before arrival in Spain if travelling from a non-EU country such as the United Kingdom.

If on the other hand you’re returning to Spain from another EU/Schengen country, then you will not have to show a Covid-19 certificate or equivalent document. Again, that’s irregardless of whether you’re a Spanish national, a resident of Spain (EU or non-EU national) or even a non-EU tourist who was already in the EU/Schengen Area before visiting Spain.

do residents need covid documents to travel back to spain
Screenshot from travelsafe.spain.info showing how an unvaccinated US national who is resident in Spain doesn’t need to show Covid documents or get tested before arrival in Spain if travelling from another EU country.
 

This is according to Spain’s travelsafe.spain.info website, where on its homepage section there is a section which allows you to choose “origin” (city/country you’re travelling from), your nationality and your vaccination status. 

When you fill in the categories and click through, it tells you whether or not you need to get a Covid-19 test. 

It also states your country of residence, even though you’re not given the option of filling this in (although, we reiterate, residence isn’t what counts). 

Are Spanish airport officials still rigorously checking the Covid documents of arrivals from outside of the EU/Schengen Area? No. 

Whether or not you get asked is up to chance. Some travellers have said they have been asked to show proof, whereas others have not.

“I went to the United Kingdom, vaccinated with the third dose more than 290 days ago (20 days over), so I needed a negative diagnostic test to return to Spain. I got a PCR in London, it cost me €80, and in Barcelona I didn’t even get asked for it”, one Spanish national wrote on Twitter.

Keep in mind as well that if you’re travelling back to Spain from a non-EU country, but you have a layover in another EU/Schengen country first before reaching Spain, it will be that country’s rules that apply in terms having to show Covid-19 documents. You will already have entered the EU/Schengen Area before reaching your final destination (Spain), so you will not be asked to provide proof of Covid certificates when you land in Spain.

Is there a risk of being refused entry as a resident if you don’t have any Covid-19 documents upon arrival in Spain and you get asked to provide them? 

The worst-case scenario is that you will be required to take a Covid test there and then at the airport. Spain has allowed legal Spanish residents (whether they’re EU or non-EU nationals) to return home to Spain even at the worst stages of the pandemic when travel was heavily restricted.

So, if you’re travelling back to Spain as a resident from a non-EU country, what Covid proof do you technically have to be able to show? Only one of the following:

  • 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 to departure, or an antigen test, taken within 24 hours prior to 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. 

You can prove the above by showing a digital or paper certificate issued by the relevant authorities of the country in which you were vaccinated. If you were vaccinated in Spain, this can be Spain’s EU Digital COVID Certificate.

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TRAVEL NEWS

EXPLAINED: The new tourism tax in Spain’s Valencia region

Spain’s Valencian Community has become the latest territory to introduce a tourism tax for holidaymakers staying in all types of accommodation in the region. Here’s how much extra it will cost tourists and why it’s a controversial measure.

EXPLAINED: The new tourism tax in Spain’s Valencia region

What’s the Valencia region’s new tourism tax?

On Thursday November 24th, Valencia’s regional parliament approved a tourism tax that’s been in the pipeline for years.

It will come into force in the popular coastal region at the end of 2023 or early 2024. 

The tourism tax will be applied to all types of tourism accommodation in the Valencia region, from hotels to campsites, hostels, country houses, tourist apartments and docked boats and yachts. Holidaymakers arriving on cruise ships will also pay.

Tourists will pay between 50 cents and €2 per night and per person depending on the type of accommodation they choose, for a maximum of seven nights.

That means that a couple spending a week at a five or four-star hotel in Valencia will pay €28 more on average as a result of the tourism tax.

People with a disability level of 66 percent or above, under-16s, guests on Spain’s pensioner Imserso scheme and people under 30 staying at hostels are among those who will not be charged extra to incorporate the tax.

Even though it’s called a tourism tax, residents of the Valencia region will also have to pay it if they stay at short-term accommodation in their territory.

The levy will be compulsory but individual municipalities in the region of 5 million inhabitants will be able to decide whether to apply it to their tourism accommodation or not. 

Left-wing coalition party Compromís described the tourism tax as a “small contribution” for holidaymakers to pay.

Why has the tourism tax been introduced and why is it controversial?

The legislation states that all the proceeds be reinvested into the sustainable development of the tourism sector of La Comunitat Valenciana, which is home to Alicante, Benidorm and other popular tourist spots on the Costa Blanca. 

Such funds would partly go to addressing the issue of a lack of affordable and available housing for locals in popular tourism spots.

“I prefer that tourists pay more rather than see Valencians paying more in taxes,” Valencia city’s left-wing mayor Joan Ribó said last July about the fact that the large volume of holidaymakers in the city puts extra pressure on municipal resources, from cleaning to security.

“I’ve been to cities with a tourism tax and I haven’t considered not going because of it”.

But the measure doesn’t have the support of all of Valencia’s main political parties, with 51 votes in favour and 46 against in Thursday’s vote.

Hoteliers and hospitality associations are also against the tax, seeing it as a stumbling block on their way to recovery after the losses incurred since the pandemic.

Even regional tourism secretary Francesc Colomer said that a report by Alicante University had found that in the medium term the tourism tax would not be appropriate to introduce.

That same report covered the potential difficulty of implementing this tax and the problems it could cause, as many tour operators may look for new destinations where this tax is not required.

Where else are there tourism taxes?

Two other regions in Spain already have a tourism tax in place: Catalonia since 2012 and the Balearic Islands since 2016. 

Tourists in Catalonia pay between €0.60 and €3.50 extra a night (an extra €1.75 is added in Barcelona), whereas in Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera it’s usually €3 per night and per person.

Tourism taxes are also applied in other European countries such as the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Slovenia and Slovakia, where a fixed price is applied regardless of the type of accommodation.

However, in cities with large volumes of tourists such as Amsterdam, Berlin or Vienna the tourist pays a percentage (7, 5 and 3 percent respectively) on the amount they pay per night for their accommodation.

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