SHARE
COPY LINK
For members

TRAVEL NEWS

MYTHBUSTERS: Are UK tourists in Spain really being asked to prove €100 a day?

Dozens of articles in the UK press are warning British tourists that post-Brexit they could have to prove they have €100 (£85) for each day they spend on holiday in Spain. But is there any evidence of this actually happening? 

Are UK tourists in Spain really being asked to prove €100 a day?
UK tourists arriving in Spain can prove their financial sufficiency through a number of documents, but it almost certainly won't be necessary. (Photo by GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT / AFP)

It’s the height of summer and with fewer Covid-19 restrictions in both Spain and the United Kingdom, UK tourists are flocking back to their favourite overseas holiday destination: España

In June 2022, 2.07 million UK holidaymakers visited Spain, despite the rise in flight prices and travel chaos (cancellations, delays, lost luggage) that has arisen as the world gradually returns to its usual fast pace. 

But there’s something else now worrying UK tourists with flights booked for Spain – the apparent requirement to prove they have enough money to cover their Spanish holiday costs now that they are non-EU nationals.

Numerous UK newspapers, from The Telegraph to The Independent to of course The Daily Mail and The Sun, have been running articles warning UK holidaymakers that they could be turned away if they can’t show proof of having €100 (£85) for every day of holiday they are spending in Spain.

The Daily Express went with the headline “Fury as EU ‘punishes’ British holidaymakers – now UK tourists forced to pay to enter Spain”.

Radio station LBC ran with the equally over-the-top “Brexit fury: Tourists slam rule which requires Brits to have £85 to spend per day in Spain”.

So is there any truth to the dramatic warnings in the UK press?

Yes, it is theoretically true, but this is neither a new rule nor one that applies only to UK nationals, as much as some sectors of the UK press insist on making it all about Britons and alleged attacks on their freedoms.

As non-EU nationals who are not from a Schengen Area country either (the United Kingdom never was in Schengen), UK tourists entering Spain could have certain requirements with which to comply if asked by Spanish border officials.

These include rules relating to their passport validity, proof of a return ticket, documents proving their purpose of entry into Spain, limits on the amount of time they can spend in Spain (the 90 out of 180 days Schengen rule), proof of accommodation, a letter of invitation if staying with friends or family (another controversial subject when it emerged) and yes, proof of sufficient financial means for the trip.

READ MORE: What Britons could be asked to prove when visiting Spain

Third-country nationals who seek to enter Spain may need to attest to having at least €100 per day (£85), with a minimum of €900 (around £760) per person regardless of the intended duration of the stay. It is unclear whether this could also possibly apply to minors.

Is there actually any evidence of this happening?

No. There are no reports of UK tourists flying to Spain after becoming non-EU nationals and being turned away on the basis of not having the financial means to cover the expenses of their visit.

The only hiccups that have arisen post-Brexit have been at the land border between Gibraltar and Spain, with the case in 2021 of a UK national who was denied entry over a missing passport stamp, and in April of this year Spanish border officials tightening checks on UK nationals (non-residents in Spain) and Gibraltarians

However, in the latter case travellers were reportedly asked to demonstrate both travel and accommodation plans before being allowed to enter Spain, nothing relating to financial means. 

These issues may have come about as a result of political wrangling over ongoing negotiations on a deal outlining Gibraltar’s future relationship with the EU, and have nothing to do with UK tourists heading to Spain for a holiday.

There is some anecdotal evidence from other third-country tourists entering other EU/Schengen countries such as France suggesting that financial checks can happen but are rare. With millions of people travelling into the EU on a daily basis, how could there not be?

So all things considered, it’s been quite a stretch for UK newspapers to run these articles and refer to the financial means requisite as a “new rule”, one directed just at UK nationals and one drafted by the Spanish government. It’s not the first time this ‘news’ been in the British press either.

Some have linked to Spain’s Interior Ministry website but there is no evidence that the rules are any different to what they were a week ago, a month ago, or a year ago.

In fact, means of subsistence is regulated by Regulation (Ec) No 810/2009 of The European Parliament, introduced back in 2009.

Based on empirical evidence, it’s highly unlikely that UK tourists arriving in Spain will be asked to show proof of financial resources, but to be on the safe side they should have it available anyway. 

After all, Spain may be less expensive than the United Kingdom but it isn’t that cheap. Some may say that if you don’t have more than £750, you shouldn’t really be going on holiday abroad. 

You can prove your financial sufficiency through recent bank statements, a credit card, a banking app, cash, payslips, traveller’s cheques, supporting documents to attest your sponsor’s readiness to cover your costs, proof of prepaid accommodation and so on.

UPDATE: The Local Spain contacted the UK Embassy in Madrid regarding this matter. They replied saying that their team had slightly reworded their advice for UK nationals visiting Spain in a bid to further clarify the already existing rules.

“We wanted to clarify that there have been no changes to the guidance this summer,” The UK Embassy stressed on its Brits in Spain Facebook group.

“In summary, UK nationals entering the Schengen zone (in any country) as tourists may need to provide additional documents at the border.”

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

TRAIN TRAVEL

Yes, train travel across Europe is far better than flying – even with kids

Hoping to do his bit for the planet, perhaps save some money and avoid spending any time in airports, The Local's Ben McPartland decided to travel 2,000km with his family across Europe by train - not plane. Here's how he got on on and would he recommend it?

Yes, train travel across Europe is far better than flying - even with kids

Summer 2022 has seen the return of people travelling across Europe en masse whether for holidays or to see family, or both.

But it’s also seen chaos in airports, airline strikes and more questions than ever about whether we should be flying at all as Europe bakes under consecutive heatwaves caused by the climate crisis.

But are there really viable alternatives to travelling 2,000 km across Europe in a short space of time – with young kids?

The predicament

We needed to get from Paris to Portugal, or to be more precise the western edge of the Algarve in southern Portugal, for a week-long family holiday.

We didn’t have that much time to spend travelling there and back so the dilemma was how could we get there, fairly quickly?

“We” in this case being a family of four including two children aged 5 and 7, one fairly easygoing mum and a dad (me) who increasingly comes out in a rash when he goes near an airport.

Normally we’d have flown – as we did when we went to the same region of Portugal in October – but the stories of airport chaos, delays, cancellations, strikes and never-ending queues around Europe at the start of the summer made the prospect of taking the plane far less appealing.

Then throw in the climate crisis and the growing feeling that we, as a family, need to make an effort for the cause.

So the thought of flying, during what forecasters say was one of the hottest Julys on record in Europe and as rivers dried up and wildfires burn, just didn’t feel like an acceptable option – to me anyway – when there are alternatives.

There was the option of driving from France to Portugal, as many French and Portuguese nationals living in France do every summer. But driving nearly 2,000 km there and back for just a week’s holiday with two kids strapped in the back for hours on end would have been asking for trouble – either a breakdown or lots of meltdowns.

So that left taking the train. But would it be viable?  Would something go wrong as my colleague Richard Orange had warned on his own rail trip across Europe with kids this summer?

READ ALSO: What I learned taking the train through Europe with two kids

Planning the route

With the help of some really knowledgeable European rail experts like Jon Worth and information from the excellent The Man in Seat Sixty-One website we looked at the various rail routes through France and Spain to southern Portugal.

One problem was the line from southern Spain to the Algarve no longer runs which meant the best we could do was get to Seville and then hire a car.

At one point the best option looked like a night train (fairly cheap with a whole cabin reserved for the family) down to the Pyrenees (Latour-de-Carol) and then a local train to Barcelona before onwards travel to Portugal.

But in the end we settled on the direct train from Paris to Barcelona, spend the night in the Catalan city before taking the train the next day to Seville and picking up the car.

READ ALSO 6 European cities less than 7 hours from Paris by train

It would be mean Paris to Portugal in two days – or to be precise 7 hours to Barcelona, one night in a hotel, before a five-and-half-hour train journey to Seville and a three-hour car journey. It was the quickest way without flying, as far as we could see.

We were about to book the tickets when friend who was travelling by rail through Europe mentioned the Interrail option.

I did Interrailing as an 18-year- old and it was a great way to spend a month travelling around Europe (and Morocco) but had never thought it could be an option for a quickish trip to Portugal and back.

But Interrail has changed a bit since 1996 and indeed since 1972 when it was first launched for under 21s.

Now it offers passes that can be used for 4, 5 or 7 days a month – perfect for travel to a few destinations in a short space of time.

And, this was the clincher – Interrail passes for under 11s are free if they are with an adult.

Well almost free, because in certain countries like France and Spain you still need to pay for seat reservations for anyone travelling.

But the cost of the passes for two adults, plus seat reservations were cheaper than just booking direct trains and much cheaper than flying (more on costs below).

The high-speed train from Barcelona to Seville. Photo: The Local

The Upsides

Let’s start with not having to wake up at 4am and arrive at the train station three hours before the train leaves just to check in a bag and then spend the next three hours queuing in various lines – bags, passport, security, boarding etc..

We arrived at Gare de Lyon around 30 minutes before the train left and boarded without queuing and the train departed on time.

Compare this with having to get a taxi or the RER train to Charles de Gaulle airport and then still find yourself in Paris three hours later as you queue to board. (I know this is not always the case but this summer the advice was to arrive three hours before your flight to check in bags.)

Plus there was no luggage limits on the train and no having to empty your bags at security because you left an old roll-on deodorant at the bottom of your bag.

Although rail stations in Spain do have airport style x-ray machines to check all luggage, they were very rapid and didn’t result in any long queues.

Add to this comfortable seats with leg room, a bar you can walk to and spend hours watching the beautiful French and Spanish landscape whizz by.

You arrive in the centre of town – in our case Barcelona – so there’s no need to get public transport or taxis to and from out of town airports. 

Spending a night in Barcelona was a great way to break the journey – albeit a bit expensive (see below).

And it all ran pretty much on time. Over five train journeys in four days we had 15 minutes of delay. Spain’s high-speed trains were fantastic.

To sum it up: when flying your holiday only really begins when you arrive at your final destination because these days the day spent travelling is one big headache, but with the train the holiday begins as soon as you leave the station.

It’s just far, far more relaxing.

heading back to Barcelona Sants station after a night in the Catalan capital. Photo: The Local.

The Downsides

But what about the kids, you say?

Yep this can be an issue. Travelling for 7 hours on a train is not easy with two young kids but if you come prepared and can think of 75 different ways to occupy them from drawing and playing cards to I-spy and “count my freckles slowly” then it’s possible the journey will be tantrum free. (Playing hide and seek on a train with 12 carriages isn’t advisable.)

And kids adapt, so the following day’s five and half hour journey from Barcelona to Seville was a breeze because they settled into the pace of life and by that point had worked out the code to get into my mobile phone.

One complaint was how long the TGV train took to get along the southern French coast. Does it really need to stop at Nimes, Montpellier, Beziers, Agde, Sete and Perpignan? Can’t local trains serve these stations and the TGV just head straight to Spain?

Another little gripe was the train food. Whilst buffet cars on SNCF and Renfe trains are great for a coffee or a beer they don’t really offer a selection of healthy meals, so you need to come prepared. We weren’t and spent a lot of money on crap food and drink during the trips.

But if you know this in advance you can bring whatever you like onto the train, with no nonsense about 100ml limits on liquid.

Cost comparison

Working out cost comparisons are hard and anyone looking to do a similar trip will need a calculator at hand. 

It’s hard to do a direct comparison between flying and taking the train because so much depends on what the prices are when you book, the route you want to take and how quickly you want to travel and whether to go first class or standard.

But for us at the time of booking (roughly two months in advance) flights from Paris to Faro were about €1,500 for four people, train tickets booked directly with SNCF and Renfe (not interrail) for four people were around €1,200 (this probably could have been much cheaper further in advance), whilst the Interrail option – 4 day passes plus seat reservations was around €810.

So on the face of it travelling by train, especially using Interrail passes, was cheaper – but then add on the cost of two nights in hotels in central Barcelona and there was no real financial benefit of going by train.

But then it was never all about money – what price on not having to spend three hours at Charles de Gaulle airport?

How easy is it to Interrail?

Interrail proved a great option for us, even though it was only a relatively short trip. It’s more suited to those looking to do multiple journeys through various countries, perhaps at a slower pace. But the kids being free was crucial for us, so other families should definitely explore the option.

The one downside to Interrailing through France and Spain is the requirement to book seat reservations for the high-speed trains.

Whilst this sounds fairly straightforward we couldn’t do it through the Interrail app or website so had to be done with Renfe directly. For most countries you can reserve seats through the Interrail app (more on this below).

With SNCF it required a lengthy phone call because we reserved the seats to make sure there were some available before getting the Interrail passes.

For Paris to Barcelona the reservations cost €34 for standard class seats or €48 for first class.

With Renfe it was more complicated although much cheaper (Around €10 to €12 a seat). We were told on the phone that to reserve seats with Interrail you have to do it either at a Spanish train station or by phone but only if you can pick up and pay for the reservations at a Spanish train station within a certain amount of time.

Neither of these were possible when booking from Paris back in May/June. But the helpful website Man at Seat 61 recommended going via the man behind the AndyBTravels website, who charges a small fee. A few emails were exchanged and our reservations for Barcelona to Seville arrived in the post a few days later. 

Renfe and SNCF could make it easier for Interrail passengers.

The Interrail mobile pass on the the Rail Planner app was very easy to use. It was just a case of adding the days when we were travelling and then adding the specific journeys.

This brought up a QR code for each trip but the ticket controllers were always more concerned about the seat reservations we had on paper.

But all went to plan.

 

Conclusion

Those days spent sitting drinking coffee, orange and beer (in separate cups) starring out of train windows at fields, hills, mountains, villages, beach and train platforms were part of the holiday.

I’d say that if you have a day or two to spare then travelling across Europe by train instead of plane is well worth it – yes, even with two young kids.

They might even thank you for it one day if we all help avert a climate disaster. 

Advice

It’s hard to give advice because each person has different requirements that need to be taken into account – whether number of passengers, time needed for travelling, destinations, cost etc.

But plan ahead and do the research to see what’s possible.

One bit of advice if you need to travel quickly is try keep connections to a minimum or give yourself plenty of time to make them.

My colleague Richard Orange had problems on his trip from Sweden to the UK via Denmark, Germany and Belgium because of delays and missed connections.

Useful links and extra info

You can explore Interrail pass options and prices by visiting the Interrail site here. The site offers plenty of info to help you plan your trip and reserve seats on trains if necessary.

The fantastic Man in Seat 61 guide to train travel across Europe is a must-read for anyone planning a trip. It has pages and pages of useful up to date info and can be viewed here.

It also has loads of information on how to use an Interrail pass and calculations to see whether it’s the best option – if you need help with the maths. The page can be viewed here.

SHOW COMMENTS