The land of sun, sea and sangria is Britain’s favourite holiday destination: 18.1 million of us visited in 2019. But in recent weeks, the number of COVID-19 cases have soared in the UK and Spain. On 6 January, the UK went into a national lockdown to reduce infection rates. While England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have slightly different rules, the basic principles are similar, and restrict all travel (domestically and abroad) to essential reasons only.
This means that holidays to Spain are off the cards until at least mid-February, and probably for longer.
Note: this article was last updated on 18 January 2021, and was correct at time of writing. For the most up to date information, check our travel restrictions page which is updated daily.
Can I travel to Spain from the UK?
Currently, you can only travel to Spain if you’re a returning Spanish national. The country has imposed a temporary ban from the UK until 6pm on 2 February, in response to the new coronavirus variant that’s been detected in southeast England.
If the ban lifts on 2 February, there are also general restrictions based on which tier or level you live in within the UK. Travel for holidays would only be permitted from tiers 1 and 2 in England.
However, the UK is now in lockdown from 6 January until at least mid-February and probably longer, meaning that non-essential travel to Spain – i.e. holidays – are banned for now.
Note that anyone returning to the UK from Spain must present a passenger locator form, plus a negative COVID test, taken up to 72 hours before flying, on arrival – followed by a quarantine period for 10 days. You can opt into the ‘test-to-release’ scheme to reduce your quarantine to five days provided you get a negative PCR test on your fifth day of quarantine.
Is Spain in lockdown?
Spain is in a state of emergency, which was declared on 25 October and is in place until 9 May 2021. This limits movement with a nightly curfew across the whole of Spain (minus the Canary Islands) between 11pm and 6am, although regional authorities are allowed a margin of one hour to bring these times forward or back. Exceptions to the curfew include going to work, buying medicine and caring duties. Public and private gatherings between different households are also limited to six people.
What are the entry requirements for travelling to Spain?
At the moment, all travel to Spain from the UK is temporarily banned, apart from for returning Spanish nationals.
Then, since 23 November, all travellers arriving in Spanish airports and ports from ‘risk’ countries (as determined by the European Centre for Disease Prevention & Control) must present a negative, privately purchased PCR test, taken within the previous 72 hours. At the moment, the UK is on the ‘risk’ countries list.
If you are travelling by air or sea to Spain, you must also fill in a ‘Health Control Form’ 48 hours prior arrival, to prove your negative PCR test results. When you arrive in Spain, you’ll also undergo a visual health check and temperature check. Anyone who fails either of these will have to take a COVID test and isolate until the results are available.
However, overland travellers to Spain do not need to do a PCR test in advance or fill in the Health Control Form.
Can I go to Ibiza and the Balearic Islands?
The Balearic Islands (an archipelago including Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera) are subject to the same curfew and movement restrictions as mainland Spain. When the travel ban and lockdown lifts, you can travel there, provided you’re not in tier 3 or 4 England, but you will have to quarantine for 10 days on arrival back in the UK (with the potential for a five-day quarantine with a negative PCR test on day five). The rules might be slightly different in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
Can I go to the Canary Islands?
After the travel ban and lockdown lifts, you can travel to the Canary Islands from tiers 1 and 2 in England. But you will have to present a negative COVID test and self-isolate for 10 days on your return back to the UK (keep an eye on the latest guidance for Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales in case this changes).
The Canary Islands have introduced their own travel insurance policy to tempt British travellers back to the islands. Underwritten by AXA, it will be in place until August 2021 and will cover the costs if you contract coronavirus during your trip. This includes medicines, repatriation and any costs incurred by self isolating. Like any insurance policy, it won’t be valid if you caught the illness before you travel.
What are the entry requirements for the Canary Islands?
Spain announced new ‘travel corridors’ between the Canary and Balearic Islands and the rest of Europe, in order to kickstart tourism on the affected islands. These come with new protocols focused on coronavirus testing. For example, tourists arriving from a European country where the COVID-19 infection rate is below 50 per 100,000 people, do not need to get a pre-departure COVID-19 test.
However, if you’re arriving from a ‘high-risk’ destination, with a rate of over 50 infections per 100,000 inhabitants, you will have to present a negative PCR coronavirus test on arrival, taken no more than 48 hours before your flight. This applies to anyone arriving from the UK. Anyone who tests positive must quarantine on arrival, although accommodation or medical costs are covered by the authorities.
Since 14 November, anyone travelling to the Canary Islands and booked into regulated tourist accommodation is required to:
- Produce an official, negative COVID-19 test taken no more than 72 hours earlier, when checking into accommodation
- Download and activate the Radar COVID notification app throughout their stay on the islands, and for 15 days on returning back to the UK.
As always, don’t travel if you have symptoms or if anyone in your support bubble has been diagnosed with COVID-19. And while current UK lockdown is in place, until mid-February earliest, no one can travel to Spain or its islands.
Can I fly to Spain?
Many airlines (like Ryanair) continued to fly to Spain during lockdown, but at reduced capacity. Now, the travel ban to Spain means that only very sporadic flights for returning nationals are operating. Expect widespread cancellations until the spring, thanks to the new travel ban which came in on 22 December and the UK lockdown from 6 January.
Travellers returning to the UK must present a negative COVID test, then isolate for 10 days on arrival (or five days dependent on a secondary, negative PCR test). However, expect cancellations at the moment.
Coronavirus restrictions in Spain
If you are in Spain, it’s important to remember that the rules there are different to in the UK, and that it’s imperative to follow the guidance in every country you visit. As well as being polite, it can also save you from getting slapped with hefty fines.
Since 25 October, there’s been a nightly curfew between 11pm and 6am across mainland Spain and the Balearic Islands. This means that you can only go outside to access medical supplies, or go to work and to perform caring duties. Meeting outside of your household is limited to parties of six. For travellers, this means respecting the local guidelines as if you were a resident.
Every region of Spain has its own regulations, but as standard the restrictions to remember are:
- Everyone over six years old needs to wear a face covering on public transport and everywhere in public, unless eating or drinking
- You need to stay 1.5m away from anyone who’s not in your household
- Track and trace is obliged to be in place in shops, businesses and transportation
- The sale of alcohol in shops is prohibited after 10pm
- Shopping centres must reduce their capacity by half
- Table service is mandatory
- Smoking outside nighttime venues is prohibited
- If you test positive or develop symptoms during your stay, you might be moved to designated accommodation to help stop the spread.
As well as following the local rules, you should also do everything that you would do to keep safe at home. For example wash your hands as often as possible and carry some hand sanitiser for times when you can’t reach a sink. Keep an eye out for news of new local lockdowns in the lead up to your trip, and while you’re there.
When can I travel to Spain? FAQs
Probably not until the springtime, earliest.
On 25 October the Spanish government declared a state of emergency and from 22 December to 2 February there is a ban on travel from the UK to Spain, except for returning Spanish nationals. A UK-wide lockdown also began on 6 January, banning non-essential travel. If you do fly to Spain, you’ll have to present a negative COVID test on your arrival there and back in the UK, then quarantine for 10 days, which can be reduced to five days with another, privately purchased negative PCR test on day five, through the test-and-release scheme.
Tourists need to present a negative PCR test result (taken within the previous 72 hours) on arrival and undergo temperature and visual checks.
Yes, for 10 days (or five with a negative PCR test taken on the fifth day). Now, a negative COVID test is also required to present at the UK border.
Yes, but only very sporadic flights for returning Spanish nationals.
When lockdown ends, you’ll be able to fly to the Canary Islands from tiers 1 and 2 in England. But as of 12 December, UK travellers returning from the Canary Islands need present a negative COVID test and then self-isolate for 10 days, or five days with proof of another negative COVID-19 PCR test.
We know that travelling is especially difficult right now, but we are here to always keep you informed and inspired. Even though there are restrictions, you can start dreaming about – or even planning – your next trip.