Can I travel to Spain from the UK? Spain travel rules explained

Spain is one of our favourite holiday destinations, with everything from the year-round sun of the Canaries, the Balearic islands and the Costas to the cultural delights of Madrid and Barcelona. It’s also made it relatively easy for fully-vaccinated British visitors to travel. But you will need to jump through a few hoops if you want your holiday to go smoothly. 

Exactly what red tape is required depends on whether or not you’re fully vaccinated, where you are travelling from and if you are travelling with children. But everyone needs to follow these four basic steps:

Read on to find out what evidence you need to show at the airport, which tests you need to return home, and which rules children need to follow and at what age.

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Before you go: What are Spain’s Covid entry requirements?

Fully vaccinated passengers

STEP 1: If you have been fully vaccinated at least 14 days prior to arriving in Spain, you’ll need to be able to prove it. The entry rules are the same for the whole country, whether you’re visiting the Canaries, Mallorca, Ibiza or mainland Spain.

English holidaymakers visiting Spain can use the NHS Covid Pass app to provide evidence of the date of their vaccinations. Our advice is to print out the required QR code, or at least save it in your phone’s document wallet. Some travellers have missed their flights when the Covid Pass app stopped working, leaving them with no means of proving when they received their vaccinations.

Find out more about how to use the NHS app and the options for residents of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland

If you don’t have a smartphone, you can also access your vaccine status online, or request proof in letter form. 

STEP 2: Before your flight, you will also need to complete and sign an online Health Control Form, no more than 48 hours prior to travel, declaring any known history of Covid exposure. Once the form is completed you will receive a QR code (again, print this out as a backup). 

On arrival in Spain, you may be asked to present the QR code, undergo a temperature check and/or undergo a visual health assessment. 

Unvaccinated passengers

STEP 1: If you are unvaccinated, or not yet fully vaccinated, then you will need to present a negative Covid test result in order to enter Spain. Certificates of recovery from Covid are not accepted for arrivals from the UK.

The Covid test must be a PCR, TMA, LAMP or NEAR test, and it must be taken within 72 hours prior to arrival in Spain. Lateral flow tests are not accepted. 

STEP 2: As above

Travelling with children

STEP 1: Children under the age of 12 do not need to take a test, or show evidence of vaccination, to enter Spain. 

However, children aged 12 and over are treated the same as adults and must present either evidence of full vaccination, or of a negative test taken within 72 hours.

STEP 2: All passengers, regardless of age must complete the Spanish health form (see Step 2 above) no more than 48 hours prior to travel. Parents or legal guardians are able to complete an individual form on behalf of their children. Alternatively you can fill in a family/group form. 

What if my child has recently recovered from Covid – but is not yet fully vaccinated?

The risk with PCR tests is that they may still be positive up to 90 days after infection, meaning that a child might not be able to travel even if they had Covid weeks before your trip.

Spain doesn’t accept lateral flow tests for unvaccinated arrivals but it does accept LAMP tests. These are less common but you can do them at Heathrow and Gatwick, among other locations. They are less likely than PCR tests to still show up as positive when the child has recovered from the virus so might be a good option.

What are Spain’s rules while I am there?

Each region of Spain has its own rules with regards to mask-wearing, indoor hospitality and Covid passes. Some regions also have a curfew and this can vary, not just within regions but within provinces or even between municipalities.

In some regions curfews are currently in place very late at night, between 1.00am and 6.00am but during the worst moments of the pandemic they have been as early as 11.00pm in some parts of the country. Check with the local tourist office for latest details. You can see the rules for the Canary Islands here. 

Do I need to show a Covid pass?

In Catalonia and Galicia in the north you do need to able to prove that you’re fully vaccinated, recently recovered or have had a negative Covid test before being allowed to enter indoor hospitality. Other regions are considering similar measures. You can use your NHS pass or the equivalents from the rest of the UK as a vaccine passport.

Will I need to wear a mask?

Anyone over the age of 6 must wear a mask in enclosed public spaces like shops, bars, restaurants and hairdressers and on public or group transport, except when eating or drinking. That’s the case throughout the country, including the Canary and Balearic islands. Many people still wear masks outside but this is not obligatory. Rules vary as to whether you have to wear a mask on the beach. 

Fines may be imposed if you don’t comply with these rules. However, those with a disability of respiratory condition are exempt.

What Covid forms, tests and quarantines are required when I return to the UK?

Fully vaccinated passengers

Spain is still on the government’s ‘rest of world’ green list, which means that you don’t need to take a pre-departure test. But you’ll still need to fill in a passenger locator form before you travel home and take a day two PCR test when you arrive home. You have to self-isolate until you get your result so make sure you choose a reliable, as well as cheap PCR test provider. 

You must complete a passenger locator form online, and submit it any time in the 48 hours before you arrive in the UK. You’ll need to show your form when you check in, or board your plane. 

To complete the form you’ll need your passport details, your travel details and the booking reference numbers for any Covid tests you need to take after arriving in the UK. 

Unvaccinated passengers

Travellers who have not received both doses of an approved vaccine and are returning from the Canary Islands must take a pre-departure test, followed by a day 2 and day 8 test. 

They must also quarantine at home. Test to release on day 5 remains an option to reduce the self isolation period. 

Travelling with children

The fully vaccinated rules apply to any UK resident who is under 18. Children aged 5-17 must take a day two test, and those resident in England will be able to switch to a lateral flow test (rather than a PCR test) after 24 October. 

Those aged 4 and under do not have to take any Covid travel tests.

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