What are the new Covid travel rules between Spain and the UK in January?

Tourists arrive at Son Sant Joan airport in Palma de Mallorca
Tourists arrive at Son Sant Joan airport in Palma de Mallorca on June 28, 2021. British holidaymakers heading to the Balearic Islands will need to show a negative PCR test or proof of vaccination due to a rise in UK Covid infections, Spain said, reversing a free-entry policy. Photo: JAIME REINA / AFP
The UK has recently relaxed its Covid entry rules again for travellers from Spain. Find out all the latest rules on travel between the two countries.
What are the rules for entry to Spain from the UK?
It is no longer be possible for unvaccinated UK tourists to visit Spain – even if they supply a negative Covid test.

In November 2021 the Spanish government announced that negative Covid tests will no longer be accepted from British visitors looking to spend their holidays in the country from December 1st 2021 onwards. 

Only those that can show proof of being fully vaccinated will be allowed in.

The UK’s status as a third country and its high infection rate should have meant non-essential travel for unvaccinated travellers was not possible, but Spain had made an exception. 

The appearance of the new Omicron variant however forced the Spanish government to introduce further restrictions for its primary tourism market. 

“The appearance of new variants forces us to increase travel restrictions,” Spanish authorities said. 

“Consequently, together with other measures adopted by Spain’s Ministry of Health, the exemption applicable to people residing in the United Kingdom will be cancelled”.

The rule is applicable to UK visitors so unvaccinated Spanish nationals, EU citizens and British residents in Spain that fly into the country from the UK are not affected.

That means people in those groups who are not vaccinated can still use an antigen test taken within 48 hours to travel to Spain, or a PCR test taken within 72 hours.

The vaccination rule doesn’t apply to children under the age of 12 either.

Those who are vaccinated just need to show proof they were fully jabbed over 14 days prior to travel.

Aside from the usual two-shot (or single shot for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine), Spain considers people who have recovered from Covid-19 and had one Covid-19 vaccine to be fully immunised. 

In general, people in Spain under 65 who had Covid-19 get only one vaccine dose, either Pfizer or Moderna, six months after the illness. Those above 65 get two shots.
Spain accepts the NHS Covid pass, which you can read more about here

All international arrivals by air or sea in Spain, regardless of where they’re from, have to fill in a health control form on the Spain Travel Health app or website before travelling to Spain.

What are the new rules for travel from Spain to the UK?

On Wednesday January 5th 2022, the UK government announced that fully-vaccinated arrivals will no longer need to take a pre-departure test if travelling to England.

The rules, which for the time being only concern arrivals into England, will come into force at 4am on Friday, January 7th.

READ ALSO: UK government relaxes Covid testing rules for arrivals from Europe

The rules had only been changed to introduce pre-departure tests again on December 7th 2021.

All travellers to the UK (including those vaccinated and UK citizens and residents) must also take a PCR test (not an antigen test) for their Day 2 test.

Travellers must self-isolate until a negative result from the test arrives. The Day 2 test can actually be done on or before day two, so in other words, as soon as you arrive in the UK.

The self-isolation can be done at home or at the address of family/friends.

You are permitted to travel by public transport to get from the airport/port/station to your quarantine address.

The existing rules remain in place around the Passenger Locator Form, while unvaccinated travellers still have to purchase a Day 2 and Day 8 test and quarantine for 10 days on arrival.

Since the summer of 2021, numerous readers of The Local have flagged up the slow and unreliable nature of many UK test providers – tests can only be booked from the list of “government-approved” suppliers from this list and NHS tests cannot be used for this purpose. Many reported test results being returned days later.

The Day 2 test must be ordered ahead of travel – without a booking reference you cannot complete the Passenger Locator Form which is required to board all transport to the UK.

You can find the Passenger Locator Form HERE. But beware of technical glitches with the form in recent weeks.

There are three options for tests:

  • Home tests – these test packs are sent out to the address where you will be staying. You do the test at home and then post the sample to the lab, who email you the results when ready. There have been problems with test kits for some providers not arriving at the address given, while others take up to 10 days to email out the results – even for people who have paid extra for a quick-results service.
  • Test centre tests – this involves booking in advance at a test centre near where you will be staying – people self-isolating are permitted to leave the address and go to a test centre. It can be hard to find a test centre near you, especially if you are outside London. The test centre then posts off the sample to the lab and you wait for the results by email, again this can take several days to arrive. 
  • Airport tests – it is compulsory to have booked the Day 2 test in advance, but if you want to avoid long waits for results, many airports now offer PCR tests with rapid results, in around three hours in some cases. However, these are expensive and likely to get more expensive in the coming days as the UK government does not have any kind of price cap on testing. 

Member comments

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  1. Aren’t the Spanish government making any exception for teenagers 12-15 travelling with fully vaccinated parents if they had only one shot?

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