Since the border closures due to COVID-19 began in March 2020, knowing when you can and cannot travel to a country has become a Herculean task. Even the different processes for awarding golden visas in the EU have undergone changes during this time.

Spain, of course, is no exception: the state of alarm that lasted until May 9, as well as the different laws and rules that have regulated entry into the country, have been a real puzzle for any traveler.

Now, as of March 2022, when asked whether or not you can travel to Spain from outside the EU Schengen area, the answer is yes, although you must meet certain requirements and be part of a group of exceptions.

What they are and for how long they will be is something we will discuss in this article. We will also try, finally, to rank the measures that have brought us to this point during the pandemic years.

Exceptions to travel to Spain

The question of whether or not it is possible to travel to Spain — as is the case with almost any other country in the world — entails significant difficulties. Mainly because changes in legislation occur from time to time.

First of all, it must be said that entry to Spain for a third-country national is still denied. However, the exceptions that allow it are so broad and general that, in a practical sense, it could be said that it is possible to enter Spain except in very few cases. One of these limited cases, of course, is not being vaccinated and not being part of any of the other exceptions.

Let's see, below, all the exceptions to be able to enter Spain:

  1. Being a regular resident of the European Union, Schengen partners, Andorra, Monaco, the Vatican (Holy See) or San Marino and going to that country, with documentary proof. That is to say, if you live in France and you come on a flight from Argentina to Madrid, you will be allowed to enter.
  2. Holding a long-stay visa issued by a Schengen member state or associated state to that country. To continue with an example similar to the previous one: if you have an Argentine passport but you have a two-year residence permit issued by the French State, you will be able to travel through Spain to get to France.
  3. Be accredited as a health professional, including health researchers and elder care professionals, and be heading or returning from such work.
  4. Transport, marine and aeronautical personnel necessary to carry out air transport activities. If you are a professional in road transport, marine or aeronautical services, you will have no problem entering Spain.
  5. Diplomatic, consular, international organizations, military, civil protection and humanitarian organizations personnel, in the performance of their duties.
  6. Students who are studying in Spain, in the Schengen member states or associated states, and who have the corresponding long-stay permit or visa. This, of course, provided that they are going to the country where they are studying, and that the entry takes place during the academic year or the previous 15 days. Or if the destination is Spain and the duration of the stay is up to 90 days, proving that the studies are carried out in an authorized educational center in Spain, registered in the corresponding administrative registry, following during this phase a full time and face-to-face program.
  7. Highly qualified workers whose work is necessary and cannot be postponed or performed remotely, including participants in high-level sporting events taking place in Spain. These circumstances must be justified by documentary evidence. To give a very hot and current example: unlike what happened in Australia, Djokovic could play the Madrid Masters if the legislation does not change.
  8. Persons traveling for duly accredited imperative family reasons. Here the casuistry is varied, but we have seen how the Spanish Consulate refused to support the entry to Spain, to a mother who came to accompany her daughter in the delivery of her son, because the father was also going to accompany him at that time.
  9. Persons who provide documentary proof of force majeure or necessity, or whose entry is permitted for humanitarian reasons.
  10. Residents of certain third countries. Provided that they come directly from them, have transited exclusively through other countries included in the list or have only made international transits in airports located in countries not included in the annex. As of February 2022, the list of third countries and territories is as follows: Bahrain, Chile, Colombia, Indonesia, Kuwait, New Zealand, Peru, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, China, Hong Kong SAR, Macao SAR and Taiwan.
  11. Persons in possession of a certificate of vaccination against COVID-19, a certificate of recovery or a certificate of negative diagnosis of said disease. In addition to persons under 12 years of age (Order INT/452/2022, of May 20). 
  12. In any case, since this information changes from time to time, you can always consult the Ministry of Health website for the requirements for each country.

IMPORTANT: In view of the favorable evolution of the pandemic, the Spanish and Moroccan authorities have agreed to reopen the land crossing between the cities of Ceuta and Melilla with Morocco in a gradual and orderly manner. Order INT/424/2022 and Order SND/425/2022, modifies some of the criteria to temporarily restrict non-essential travel. Only the posts of El Tarajal, in Ceuta, and Beni Enzar, in Melilla, are reopened at this stage, as the remaining ones were exclusively dedicated to the passage of categories of people who do not meet the requirements now demanded.

Requirements to enter Spain

But, then, it is enough to be part of one of these exceptions to be able to enter Spain. No, it is not that simple either. In addition to complying with one of the exceptions, the traveler from a third country must meet the following requirements:

  • Passengers arriving in Spain by air or sea, including those arriving in transit to other countries, must complete a Health Control Form before departure and obtain their QR to present it at boarding and health controls upon arrival in Spain. And if they come from a country or zone considered at risk (all those that are not included in the list of countries mentioned above and that you can consult here, in the section LIST OF HIGH RISK COUNTRIES/ZONES).
  • In addition to the Health Control Form, passengers must present: a) a certificate or document evidencing vaccination; b) a diagnostic test for active infection (PDIA); or c) a certificate of recovery from COVID-19.

NOTE: According to Europapress, Spain will stop requiring the COVID-19 vaccination certificate for tourists coming from outside the European Union "in a matter of days" and they will be able to enter with a negative test, as announced by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism, Reyes Maroto. 

The million dollar question

Do these requirements mentioned above apply to Spaniards and their families?

In the information of the Ministry of Health, in its section "Health Control Form/Accepted Certificates" it is mentioned that all persons traveling to Spain from another country (including children of any age, travelers in transit to other countries and Spaniards returning home), must complete a Health Control Form (FCS) associated with their trip. If they travel by air, they must do so through the WEB spth.gob.es or the APP, Spain Travel Health-SpTH (available for Android and iOS). If they travel by sea (ferries), through the following link: spthm.puertos.es.

Upon completion of the FCS, the system will send you a QR code that you will have to present both at the time of boarding and upon arrival in Spain.

At present, it is not mandatory to present the FCS if the trip to Spain is made by land.

How did we get here?

As explained above, the road that has led us to this point has not been a simple one. Rather, it has been a continuous change of legislation in which even the most expert jurist could have lost his way.

The beginning of it all was the temporary restriction on non-essential travel to EU and Schengen countries from third countries, implemented by the European Council in March 2020. From then on, each country applied its own measures.

In the case of Spain, these began to be implemented through the entry into force of the State of Alarm on March 14, 2020. Although the State of Alarm ended in Spain on May 8, 2021, the entry restriction measures have been extended. Among the measures promoted, it was included the denial of entry to all persons from third countries, except in certain exceptions. These exceptions have been extended over time.

Vaccines and variants

Beyond the COVID-19 virus itself, there have been two key elements in understanding the evolution of legislation. On the one hand, the emergence, on a positive level, of vaccines. On the other, the emergence of variants of particular concern, such as the most recent: the omicron strain.

In these two years we have experienced a kind of cyclical process, of eternal return. Just as the effect of vaccines has managed to relax certain entry processes, the different variants have caused these to become more restrictive once again.

So, after answering the question of how we got here, the next question to be answered is: how long will these restrictions on travel, to Spain in particular, last?

Conclusion

How long will the restrictions remain in place?

After two years of restrictions, it seems difficult to see a complete end to them. Experts say that variants will continue to emerge as long as 80% of the world's population is not vaccinated, and there is still a long way to go.

This does not mean, however, that the world is coming to a standstill. Life goes on, exceptions are likely to expand, and freedom of movement will gradually return. If you want to travel to Spain, you will probably be able to do so.

And if you are looking to move to Spain permanently, we can give you a hand here. Human beings are migrants by nature, and this pandemic will not change that either.

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