The land of sun, sea and sangria is Britain’s favourite holiday destination: 18.1 million of us visited in 2019. But both the UK and Spain have been two of Europe’s hardest hit countries by COVID-19. Here’s the latest news on travel to Spain.
Note: this article was last updated on 5 April 2021, and was correct at time of writing. For the most up to date information, check our travel restrictions page which is updated three times weekly.
Travel to Spain: latest news
On 6 January, the UK went into a national lockdown to reduce infection rates, ruling out international leisure travel. Since 29 March, it is illegal to travel overseas on holiday, with a penalty of up to £5,000 for anyone caught attempting to do so. While England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have slightly different rules, the basic principles restrict all travel (domestically and abroad) to essential reasons only, for now.
According to the UK government’s ‘road map’ towards reduced coronavirus restrictions, foreign holidays from England won’t be reinstated until at least 17 May, so holidays to Spain won’t be allowed until then, earliest. International leisure travel, currently illegal, will be reviewed by the transport secretary Grant Shapps and the Global Travel Taskforce later on in April.
However, Spain is preparing to welcome arrivals from the UK again from 30 March, following a three-month travel ban that’s now ended, which aimed to reduce the spread of new variants. British visitors to Spain now don’t need to self isolate on arrival, but will need to show proof of a negative COVID test. This should be taken within 72 hours of departure. PCR, TMA and LAMP tests will all be accepted. All travellers to Spain must show that their journey is essential, which could include for work, education or essential family reasons (check the FCDO advice for more information).
The EU has also proposed a Digital Green Certificate or Green Pass, which will provide evidence that a traveller has been vaccinated against, recovered from or tested negatively for COVID-19. This is for EU member states (it’s uncertain yet whether the UK could participate) and is planned to launch in time for the summer.
Can I travel to Spain from the UK?
Currently, you can only travel to Spain for essential reasons. At the moment, international leisure travel from England could be possible from 17 May, but this is up for review by the government later on in April. Until at least 17 May, it will be illegal to go on holiday overseas, risking a £5,000 fine.
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 on your arrival form, which allows you to end quarantine early with a negative COVID test on day five of self-isolation. These must be privately purchased and not obtained from the NHS.
On 8 March the UK government also introduced a ‘Declaration to Travel’ form, compulsory for all British travellers to fill in before leaving the UK, stating their essential reasons. If you fail to fill it in you’ll be fined upwards of £200.
Is Spain in lockdown?
Spain is in a state of emergency, which was declared on 25 October and is in place until May 2021. This limits movement with a nightly curfew across the whole of Spain (minus the Canary Islands) between 10pm 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 and wearing masks are obligatory in all public spaces.
What are the entry requirements for travelling to Spain?
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. If you travel there for essential reasons 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?
Essential travellers to the Canary Islands have to present a negative COVID test and self-isolate for 10 days on their 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 until 17 May earliest, no one can go on holiday 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, you can travel to Spain for essential reasons only, but flights are still likely to be disrupted due to low passenger numbers and changing restrictions.
Travellers returning to the UK must present a negative COVID test, then isolate for 10 days on arrival. 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 10pm and 6am across mainland Spain and the Balearic Islands. This means that you can only go outside during these times to access medical supplies, or go to work and to perform caring duties. Meeting outside of your household is limited to parties of six.
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
Not until at least 17 May. On 25 October the Spanish government declared a state of emergency and at the moment it’s illegal to travel internationally from the UK except for essential reasons. If you do fly to Spain, you’ll have to fill in a ‘Declaration to Travel’ form before leaving the UK and present a negative COVID test on your arrival there and back in the UK, then quarantine for 10 days. You can opt for the test-to-release scheme on your passenger locator form to exit self-isolation early with a negative COVID test taken on day five of your quarantine.
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. A negative COVID test is also required to present at the UK border. You can opt for the test-to-release scheme on your passenger locator form to stop isolating after five days, with a negative COVID test result.
Yes, but only very sporadic flights for returning Spanish nationals.
Not at the moment, while the UK is in lockdown and there is a travel ban in place. As of 12 December, UK travellers returning from the Canary Islands also need to present a negative COVID test and then self-isolate for 10 days, or five on the test-to-release scheme.
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.