Regardless of their country of origin and mode of transport, travelers to Spain will only have to comply with the usual travel requirements.
Spain is in luck. After more than two years of restrictions related to the health crisis caused by COVID-19, and the indelible toll that the virus has taken in the form of lives, the country seems to be starting to emerge from the tunnel of the pandemic. One of the unmistakable signs of this progress is that, as of October 21, 2022, health requirements and border controls have ended for any traveler, regardless of their state of origin and mode of transport.
So, to the question that heads this article, the question of what health requirements you have to meet to travel to Spain, the answer is simple: none. Just the usual pre-2020 ones, which include applying for a visa or, failing that, a visa waiver.
A return to normality
In a way, it could be said that this announcement is the latest in a wide series of measures —or rather, the elimination of such measures— aimed at returning to normality prior to the appearance and expansion of COVID-19.
In fact, this has been reflected by the Spanish Government in the BOE, where it is explained that "the measures to limit international mobility must be applied respecting the general principles of Union Law, and must not go beyond what is strictly necessary to safeguard public health" and that, therefore, due to the current epidemiological situation, it has been considered "convenient to leave without effect the sanitary control measures for persons coming from countries not belonging to the European Union or with the consideration of countries associated to Schengen".
The Government of Spain, although it has removed all health restrictions for travel from October 21, 2022, has left the door open to return if the epidemiological situation worsens.
Thus, all the requirements that during this last period have been part of the concerns of foreign travelers to Spanish territory - having the complete vaccination schedule, negative PCR before the trip, COVID passport, etc. - are now a thing of the past, at least for now. And we say "for now", because the Government has left the door open to the return of restrictions in case the pandemic situation worsens again.
The sanitary requirements that have existed up to the present time
Until October 2022, health requirements for travel to Spain affected all citizens of non-Schengen or Schengen-associated countries. These requirements could be divided into three main types: temperature taking, visual fitness check and documentary check.
The first two cases are self-explanatory. Border personnel were responsible not only for carrying out a visual inspection of those arriving on Spanish territory, but also for carrying out temperature checks to identify travelers with fever. In this regard, the limit had been set at over 37.5 °C.
For its part, the documentary control contemplated the presentation of three different types of health certificates, which are precisely those contemplated by the European Union in its Regulation 2021/953. These were the main characteristics of each of them:
- Certificate of vaccination. Confirming that a full COVID-19 vaccination regimen has been received. Vaccination certificates issued by the competent authorities of the country of origin were accepted as valid from 14 days after the date of administration of the last dose of the full vaccination regimen, and if no more than 270 days have elapsed since the date of administration of the last dose of the full vaccination regimen. In case of non-compliance with the above, the vaccination certificate should reflect the administration of a booster dose, with the exception of vaccination certificates for children under 18 years of age that were still valid after 270 days from the date of administration of the first full vaccination regimen.
- Certificate of diagnostic test. Confirmation that a negative diagnostic test had been performed. Certificates of negative diagnostic tests for active COVID-19 infection from any of the following groups were accepted as valid: i) Nucleic acid amplification molecular tests (NAAT), the sample of which was obtained within 72 hours prior to departure. ii) EU approved rapid antigen detection tests, the sample of which was obtained within 24 hours prior to departure.
- Certificate of recovery. Confirmation that, following a positive diagnostic test result, the traveler had recovered from SARS-CoV-2 infection. Certificates issued by the competent authorities of the country of origin or by a medical service at least 11 days after the first positive NAAT or antigen detection test result were accepted as valid. The certificate was valid for 180 days after the date of the first positive result. And all antigen detection tests had to have been approved by the European Union and performed by health professionals or qualified personnel.
However, there were certain exceptions to these requirements:
- The crews of international air or maritime means of transport.
- Children under 12 years old.
- Passengers arriving in Spain in transit to other countries, provided they do not leave the port or airport area and their stay in Spain does not exceed 24 hours.
- And sea workers and crews of international means of transport arriving in Spain as passengers, when they return from their campaign on board a ship, on their way back to their home base or in transit to embark or disembark.
For now, as we have said before, it seems that all these requirements are a thing of the past and that, for the first time since March 2020, traveling to Spain does not have any kind of restriction or sanitary requirement.
However, no one should be surprised if, some day not too far away, these requirements reappear in our lives. If the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us anything, it is that it is very persistent, and the Spanish government has already left the door open to reinstate the health requirements for travel if the epidemiological situation requires it. In case they return, and to look on the bright side, let this article serve as a guide as to what documents will be requested and what to do to apply for them.
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