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UPDATE: The new rules for travel from Spain to the US in November 2021

UPDATE: The new rules for travel from Spain to the US in November 2021
A plane prepares to land at JFK airport in New York. Scheduled flights between Spain and the US will increase from November 8th. Photo: Johannes EISELE / AFP
From Monday November 8th, the United States will lift Covid travel restrictions on passengers from Spain if they’re fully vaccinated and meet other conditions. Here are the requirements and everything else you need to know before booking.

It was in the pipeline since the end of summer but the good news was officially confirmed by the US government in mid-October 2021.

“The new US policy on travel that will require foreign travellers to the US to be fully vaccinated, will enter into force on November 8th,” the White House said in a statement on Friday.

This lifting of the ban on non-essential travel applies to arrivals from Spain and all other Schengen countries, the UK, Brasil, India, South Africa, China and Iran.

The easing of travel restrictions, imposed 19 months ago by former president Donald Trump as the Covid-19 pandemic first erupted, marked a significant shift by Biden and answered a major demand from the US’s European allies at a time of strained diplomatic relations.

But what does it mean for people in Spain who want to travel to the US?

Can I travel from Spain to the US for a holiday from November 8th?

Yes, if you were fully vaccinated 14 or more days before your flight, you will be able to travel to the US from Spain for non-essential purposes such as holidays or to visit friends or family. Quarantine on arrival will not be required.

However, vaccinated travellers from Spain and other countries have to show a negative Covid-19 test result taken within three days before travel to the United States.

Minors under the age of 18 will not have to meet the US’s new vaccine requirements but those aged 2 to 17 will have to take a Covid test.

Two types of viral tests are accepted: nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs, most commonly PCRs) or antigen tests.

Even though the vaccination requirement will have to be met by most international travellers, unvaccinated US nationals and US residents in Spain who want to fly back will be able to do so. So will unvaccinated diplomatic staff, people with documented medical contraindications to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine and a few other exceptions listed here

Any of these unvaccinated travellers for whom the US’s vaccination rules do not apply have to present a negative Covid-19 test carried out within 24 hours before travel rather than the 72 hours for vaccinated travellers.

If travelling with a fully vaccinated adult, an unvaccinated child can test 72 hours before departure. But if an unvaccinated child is travelling alone or with unvaccinated adults, then they will have to test within 24 hours before departure.

Which Covid-19 vaccines are accepted for travel from Spain to the US?

The United States will accept all vaccines that have been approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO) or the FDA.

That means US authorities currently accept Pfizer/BioNtech, AstraZeneca, Janssen (Johnson & Johnson), Moderna, Sinovac/Coronavac and Sinopharm inoculations.

People who have been vaccinated with two different doses of Covid-19 vaccines will be considered fully vaccinated by US authorities, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed.

“While the CDC has not recommended mixing types of a vaccine in a primary series, we recognise that this is increasingly common in other countries so should be accepted for the interpretation of vaccine records,” a spokesperson said.

The US will not accept a single vaccine dose after catching Covid, as is standard practice in Spain.

If your vaccination status is different, the CDC’s newly released travel assessment tool allows you to get a personalised answer to any vaccine and other travel doubts you may have. 

What documentation will I need to travel from Spain to the US?

The US accepts proof of Covid-19 vaccination in the form of a paper or digital vaccination certificate with QR code, with the CDC naming a “digital pass via smartphone application with QR code” such as that of “United Kingdom National Health Service COVID Pass or the European Union Digital COVID Certificate”.

In Spain, each region’s health authority has a system in place which allows people to have a digital copy or printed proof that they’ve had their full Covid-19 vaccine treatment.  This Digital COVID Certificate, also referred to as a Covid health pass, was primarily launched to facilitate travel within the EU during the pandemic.  

As expected, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also issued a Contact Tracing Order applicable from November 8th that requires all airlines flying into the US to collect and store for 30 days arrivals’ contact information so that health officials can have access to this and track potential infections. That means that your airline will ask you to fill in a form with all your main contact details.

Travellers will also have sign an attestation that states that they’ve been vaccinated and are warned that “wilfully providing false or misleading information may lead to criminal fines and imprisonment”.

Don’t forget either that you will probably need to get the US’s ESTA-Visa Waiver or another type of authorisation before flying to the US.

 

Are there more flights scheduled from Spain to the US for November?

Anglo-Spanish airline Iberia has already reacted to the good news by increasing its offering of flights from Spain to the United States, stating that the “rate of bookings is positive” already.

As a sign of this apparent return to normality, Iberia will operate 70 direct weekly flights between the two countries this winter, flying to US cities such as New York, Miami, Chicago, Boston and Los Angeles. Air Europa, Spain’s second biggest airline, also operates flights between the US and Spain but has not yet announced how many of the previous routes will restart.

A new United Airlines flight between New York and Tenerife in the Canary Islands and Mallorca in the Balearics has also been recently announced.

However, according to Adit Damodaran of travel research firm Hopper, growing demand could mean flight prices rise as Europeans regain their thirst for easy travel to the US.

Remember to also factor in that depending on your nationality, you may need a visa or an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) visa waiver, which costs $14 and is valid for multiple trips within a two-year period. 


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