Next, for those who are still not very clear, we will summarize the measures to restrict entry into the European Union through Spain. Both those promoted with the beginning of the State of Alarm in Spain and those based on the recommendations of the Council of Europe in the face of the COVID-19 crisis.
To begin with, the European Council, as early as March 17, 2020, created a temporary restriction on non-essential travel to EU and Schengen countries from third countries. Then, each country applied its own measures.
In the case of Spain, these measures 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 any person coming from third countries, except in the following cases:
- Regular residents of the European Union, Schengen Associated States, Andorra, Monaco, the Vatican (Holy See) or San Marino who are going to that country, with documentary proof.
- Holders of a long-stay visa issued by a Schengen Member State or Schengen Associated State who are going to the latter.
- Health care professionals, including health researchers, and elder care professionals on their way to or returning from work.
- Transportation personnel, seafarers and aeronautical personnel necessary to carry out air transportation activities.
- Diplomatic, consular, international organizations, military, civil protection and humanitarian organizations personnel, in the performance of their duties.
- Students who carry out their studies in the Schengen Member States or associated States and who have the corresponding permit or visa and medical insurance, 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. [The following clarification is added here: If the destination is Spain and the duration of the stay is up to 90 days, it must be accredited 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, on-site program, and leading to the obtaining of a degree or certificate of studies].
- 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.
- Persons traveling for duly accredited imperative family reasons.
- Persons who provide documentary proof of force majeure or necessity, or whose entry is permitted for humanitarian reasons.
- Residents in third countries, such as: Ukraine, Australia, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Albania, Lebanon, Republic of North Macedonia, Serbia, United States, Taiwan, China, Hong Kong SAR and Macao SAR. Added to this list are: Kosovo, Saudi Arabia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brunei, Canada, Montenegro, Jordan, Qatar, and Republic of Moldova.
- Persons in possession of a vaccination certificate recognized for this purpose by the Ministry of Health, after verification by the health authorities, as well as accompanying minors to whom the Ministry of Health extends the effects. In the case of persons residing in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland coming directly from it, in addition to the vaccination certificate, the diagnostic certificates recognized for this purpose by the Ministry of Health in section seven 1 of the Resolution of June 4, 2021, of the Directorate General of Public Health, regarding the health controls to be carried out at the points of entry into Spain, will also be considered valid.
However, entry to Spain is denied, for public health reasons, to any third country national, even if he/she belongs to one of the above categories, who, after verification by the health authorities, does not meet the health control requirements for COVID-19 established by the Ministry of Health.
In the case of persons arriving at any airport located in Spain, with or without intermediate stops, on flights from airports located in third countries and who are subject to quarantine by the Order of the Ministry of Health, while said Order is in force, only the exceptions listed in sections 1), 2), 4), 4), 5) and 9) of the above list, except in the case of persons resident in Spain or Andorra, or spouses of Spanish citizens or partners with whom they maintain an analogous conjugal union registered in a public register, or their dependent ascendants and descendants, provided that they are travelling with or to join the Spanish citizen.
For persons, whose relationship with an EU citizen is not registered as a domestic partner or who are not married and do not have children in common, a system of applications for entry authorization has been established through the Spanish Consulate corresponding to their domicile. For the most part, they are required to prove the existence of such relationship and a certain period of cohabitation. Having initiated marriage or domestic partnership registration procedures in Spain (when they do not require both partners to be registered in Spain at the time of the application) can also be used to obtain an entry authorization to Spain, and in our experience, it has been satisfactory on numerous occasions, although it is also true that in many other cases such entry has been denied.
In another order of things, the controls at the border posts on land with Andorra and Gibraltar are exempted. However, the entry and exit points to and from Spain from Ceuta and Melilla are temporarily closed.
The validity of these measures began for an initial period of 30 days, although later there were several extension Orders which increased and prolonged the regulations in force, related to the State of Alarm.
Order INT/790/2021, of 23 July, extends Order INT/657/2020, of 17 July. This Order will be in force from 27 July to 31 August 2021.
Así mismo, se ha publicado el mismo día 5 de junio, la Resolución de 4 de junio, de la Dirección General de Salud Pública, relativa a los controles sanitarios a realizar en los puntos de entrada de España. La misma entrará en vigor el 7 de junio, se aplica a fronteras tanto interiores como exteriores de la UE y hasta tanto el Gobierno declare la finalización de la situación de crisis sanitaria ocasionada por el COVID-19.
Likewise, on June 5, the Resolution of June 4, issued by the General Directorate of Public Health, has been published regarding the sanitary controls to be carried out at the points of entry into Spain. This Resolution will come into force on June 7 and will apply to both internal and external borders of the EU until the Government declares the end of the health crisis situation caused by COVID-19.
The Explanatory Memorandum states:
[...] The development of the different vaccines against SARS-CoV-2, the implementation of vaccination programs mainly in neighboring countries, the improvement of the different diagnostic techniques, basically in relation to rapid antigen detection tests, and a greater knowledge of the disease, together with the need to facilitate the international traffic of people, mainly between the countries of the European Union, under safe health conditions, allows the adoption of additional surveillance and control measures to those being used so far.
On the other hand, the appearance of the SARS-CoV-2 variants of particular concern has posed a new challenge in the prevention of virus transmission due to their possible association with an increase in transmissibility, virulence and modification of the capacity to respond to vaccines, which has led to the implementation of extraordinary measures to limit its spread. Initially, by limiting the arrival of means of transport from countries with community transmission of these variants and, subsequently, with the implementation of mandatory quarantine for passengers from countries at special risk, mainly those with high documented transmission of variants.
If necessary, measures of this type will continue to be implemented, in what has been called the application of the emergency brake.
All these situations imply the need to review and update the surveillance and sanitary control mechanisms that countries have been implementing at their points of entry to control the importation of cases from passengers coming from countries at risk. [...]
The most important aspects to be highlighted in these regulations are:
- The European Commission has proposed the adoption of a Union Regulation on a framework for the issuance, verification and acceptance of interoperable digital certificates for vaccination, diagnostic tests and recovery to facilitate free movement during the COVID-19 pandemic. Its objective is to regulate the issuance, verification and acceptance of these certificates, generically referred to as the EU Digital COVID Certificate, in order to facilitate free movement within the EU during the COVID-19 pandemic. When the European regulation concerning the framework for the issuance, verification and acceptance of interoperable vaccination, testing and recovery certificates to facilitate free movement during the COVID-19 pandemic comes into force, passengers arriving from countries or areas at risk using an EU Digital COVID Certificate, in any of its modalities: vaccination, diagnosis or recovery, will be generated, in the process of completing the health control form, after its automated validation by SpTH, a QR code with the designation FAST CONTROL, which will allow that it will not be necessary to show the EU Digital COVID Certificate in the boarding process or in the health control upon arrival.
- All passengers arriving in Spain by air or sea, including those arriving in transit to other countries, must complete a health control form before departure through the website www.spth.gob.es or the Spain Travel Health (SpTH) application. When filling in this form, a QR code is generated, which must be presented to the travel company before boarding and also upon entry into Spain. At the time of filling in the health control form through SpTH, passengers who do not provide an EU Digital COVID Certificate, referred to in the ninth section of this resolution, must enter the certificate data referred to in the sixth, seventh and eighth sections. After the correct validation of the information, SpTH will generate a QR code with the denomination DOCUMENTAL CONTROL. As a prerequisite for boarding, passengers must show the QR code generated by SpTH and, in the case of being identified as DOCUMENTAL CONTROL, the certificate they are in possession of, to the personnel of the transport company.
- For international cruise passengers, instead of filling in the sanitary control form established in SpTh, they will have to use the EU Digital Passenger Locator Form (dPLF) application, available through the following link www.healthygateways.eu. They must also comply with the conditions set out in the document "Sanitary measures for the reestablishment of international cruises".
- All passengers arriving in Spain as a final destination must undergo a health check upon arrival at the first point of entry. This control will include, at least, the taking of temperature (detection limit 37.5º), a documentary control and a visual control of the passenger's condition. As a general rule, passengers arriving in Spain in transit to another country will be exempted from the sanitary control in the process of changing international means of transport in the same port or airport. However, when the flow of these passengers at the airport passes through a sanitary control, it will be possible to verify that they have the specific QR for transit passengers generated by SpTH with the denomination TRANSIT.
- When a person comes from a country or zone considered "at risk" (depending on the assessment of the epidemiological situation), one of the following health requirements will be required (these certificates may be in Spanish, English, French or German, or have a translation into Spanish made by an official agency):
Certificate confirming that the holder has received a COVID-19 vaccination (vaccination certificate). This applies if you are coming from outside the EU, because if you are coming from an EU country, you will be asked for the EU COVID digital certificate. Vaccination certificates issued by the competent authorities of the country of origin will be accepted as valid from 14 days after the date of administration of the last dose of the complete vaccination regimen. The vaccines accepted will be those authorized by the European Medicines Agency (Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Janssen) or those that have completed the emergency use process of the World Health Organization (Sinopharm, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Serum, Janssen and Moderna).
The vaccination certificate shall include at least the following information:
- Name and surname of the holder.
- Date of vaccination, indicating the date of the last dose administered.
- Type of vaccine administered.
- Number of doses administered/full course.
- Issuing country.
- Identification of the agency issuing the vaccination certificate.
If we take into account these health regulations, in relation to the restrictions on entry to Spain from outside the EU (Order INT/657/2020 and the recent Order INT/519/2021), we can conclude that having a "vaccination certificate" allows entry to Spain from outside the EU, at the same time, it allows entry to Spain from outside the EU to those persons belonging to one of the groups indicated above or residents of any of the following countries: Ukraine, Australia, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Albania, Lebanon, Republic of North Macedonia, Serbia, United States, Taiwan, China, Hong Kong SAR and Macao SAR. Added to this list: Kosovo, Saudi Arabia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brunei, Canada, Montenegro, Jordan, Qatar and Republic of Moldova. On the other hand, having the "diagnosis certificate" or "vaccination certificate" will only allow entry into Spain from other EU countries considered to be at risk.
Certificates of diagnostic test for active infection of COVID-19 with negative result belonging to any of the following types will be accepted as valid:
- Molecular nucleic acid amplification tests (NAAT), whose sample has been obtained within 72 hours prior to arrival in Spain;
- Antigen detection tests included in the common list of rapid antigen detection tests for COVID-19, published by the European Commission on the basis of Council Recommendation 2021/C 24/01, whose sample has been obtained within 48 hours prior to arrival in Spain
The diagnostic test certificate must include at least the following information:
- Name and surname of the holder.
- Date of sample collection.
- Type of test performed.
- Issuing country.
Certificate confirming that the holder has recovered from COVID-19 (certificate of recovery, only valid when entering from an EU country).
The list of countries or areas at risk, as well as the criteria for inclusion in the list, is published on the website of the Ministry of Health: www.mscbs.gob.es and on the SpTH website: www.spth.gob.es. As a general rule, the lists will be reviewed every 7 days.
Recovery certificates issued by the competent authority or by a medical service at least 11 days after the first positive NAAT diagnostic test will be accepted as valid. The validity of the certificate will end 180 days from the date of sampling.
The recovery certificate shall include at least the following information:
- Name and surname of the holder.
- Date of sampling of the first positive diagnostic test for SARS-CoV-2.
- Type of NAAT test performed.
- Issuing country.
- Passengers coming from countries or areas not included in the list of countries at risk will not be required to certify their sanitary requirements. However, they will have to fill in the sanitary control form through SpTH and will obtain a QR code with the designation FAST CONTROL, which will allow the sanitary control processes upon arrival to be carried out in a more agile manner.
- Exceptions to this regulation:
- The crews of the means of international transport necessary to carry out the transport work.
- Passengers under 12 years of age are exempt from presenting the certifications referred to above (vaccination, diagnostic test or recovery certificate). However, they must be in possession of the QR code obtained after completing the health control form via SpTH.
- Seafarers and crews of international means of transport arriving in Spain as passengers, when they are returning from their campaign on board a ship, on a return journey to their home base or in transit to embark or disembark on others, are exempt from the presentation of the aforementioned regulated certifications (vaccination, diagnostic test or recovery certificate) of this Resolution, provided that they can justify their status as crew members and the impossibility of obtaining the aforementioned certifications.
- Passengers with suspected COVID-19:
- If a passenger suspected of having COVID-19 or other pathology that may pose a risk to public health is detected during the health control process upon arrival, a medical evaluation will be carried out in which the epidemiological and clinical aspects of the passenger will be assessed. In the process of medical evaluation, a diagnostic test for active infection may be performed.
- A diagnostic test may also be performed on passengers coming from an at-risk country.
- Exceptionally, certain passengers may be required to undergo a diagnostic test for active infection for COVID-19 within forty-eight hours of arrival, the results of which must be communicated to the Foreign Health Services through the channel indicated for this purpose.
- If, after this assessment, the suspicion that the passenger suffers from COVID-19 or another pathology that may pose a risk to public health is confirmed or maintained, the established communication protocols with the health services of the autonomous communities will be activated for referral and follow-up.
- Passengers suspected of having COVID-19 or other communicable pathology must undergo a health evaluation, including an assessment of their clinical and epidemiological status.
- Land borders: All persons aged six years and over from countries or areas at risk arriving in Spain by land must have one of the above-mentioned certificates (vaccination, diagnostic test or recovery certificate).
The following are exempted from this requirement:
- Land transport professionals in the exercise of their professional activity.
- Cross-border workers.
- Residents in border areas, within a radius of 30 km around their place of residence.
With Council Recommendation (EU) 2021/132 of 2 February 2021, Recommendation (EU) 2020/912 on temporary restrictions on non-essential travel to the EU and the possible lifting of such limitation was amended. Here we explain the most important additions that have been included to date:
- The spouse or partner of the person with citizenship of the European Union, with whom he/she maintains a union analogous to the conjugal union registered in a public registry and those ascendants and descendants who live under his/her charge, in the category of "Residents in the European Union" as a case in which the entry to the EU cannot be denied.
- The same case is added for spouses or partners of the Spanish citizen, as well as dependent ascendants and descendants, who may not be denied entry to Spain.
- Third countries and special administrative regions whose residents are not affected by the temporary restriction on non-essential travel to the EU across external borders: Australia, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Ukraine, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, China, Hong Kong SAR and Macao SAR.
- A new paragraph is added which reads: Any person who is a national of a third country, even if he/she belongs to one of the previous categories, and who, after verification by the health authorities, does not comply with the health control requirements for COVID-19 established by the Ministry of Health, shall be subject to refusal of entry for public health reasons.
- The persons exempted from these measures are: i) Beneficiaries of the right to free movement of the EU and the European Economic Area States. ii) Holders of residence permits or long-stay visas issued by the Member States and Schengen associated States. iii) Students. iv) Seasonal workers in the agricultural sector.
- With the exception of the transport sector and border workers, EU Member States should require persons traveling for any essential or non-essential purpose, function or need, to test negative for COVID-19 on the basis of a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test performed no earlier than 72 hours prior to departure, and to present appropriate certification of such results in the form stipulated by the authorities. If COVID-19 testing upon departure for Spain is not possible, persons who are EU citizens, persons from third countries who have the right of free movement in the EU, long-term residents or long-term visa holders and their family members should be given the possibility to take their COVID-19 test after arrival, in accordance with national procedures.
This is irrespective of the obligation to undergo any other measures, including quarantine, after arrival.
In addition, EU Member States may require self-isolation, quarantine and contact tracing for a period of up to 14 days, as well as other COVID-19 testing as necessary during the same period, provided that the same requirements are imposed on their own nationals when traveling from the same third country. For travelers from a third country where a variant of concern of the virus has been detected, EU Member States should impose earlier requirements, in particular quarantine on arrival and additional testing on or after arrival.
For travel related to an essential function or need, it is provided that:
- Member States may decide, in a coordinated manner, to waive some or all of the above measures in cases where such measures may hinder the very purpose of the trip;
- For personnel in the transport sector, seafarers and border workers, Member States should not require more than a negative rapid antigen test on arrival for entry into the EU area; in the particular case of personnel in the transport sector coming from a country where a high incidence of the virus variants of concern is detected, Member States may require a negative rapid antigen test prior to departure;
- Flight personnel should be exempted from any testing if their stay in a third country has been less than 12 hours, unless they come from a third country where a variant of concern has been detected, in which case they should be subjected to proportionate testing.
- All of the above is irrespective of any general public health requirements that may be imposed by EU Member States, such as physical distancing and the obligation to wear a mask.
It is important to note that Denmark does not participate in the adoption of the EU Council Recommendations and is not bound by or subject to their application, and will decide in the future whether or not to apply them. In the case of Ireland, it does not participate in the adoption, nor is it subject to the application of the aforementioned recommendations. However, Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland do apply these recommendations.
Digital vaccination certificate: The European Union has moved a step closer to reviving free movement after reaching consensus on a health pass or "COVID passport" for the European Union. The EU Digital COVID Certificate will facilitate the free and safe movement of citizens in the EU during the COVID-19 pandemic. It will be introduced in all EU member states. Countries can already start issuing and using it. It will be available in all EU Member States from July 1, 2021. For this purpose, two regulations have been published in the EU regarding the digital certificate in this regard. For more information, check out: What is the EU Digital COVID Certificate?
From the United Kingdom
Residents of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland are allowed to enter Spain as of May 24, 2021, thanks to Order INT/484/2021 of May 19. Therefore, they will not be affected by the restrictions on entry to Spain.
Order SND/722/2021 of 8 July establishes the extension of Order SND/413/2021 of 27 April regarding the quarantine obligation for persons arriving from India, which will be valid until 24:00 on 24 July 2021.
From Brazil and South Africa
The Agreement of the Council of Ministers of the Government of Spain provides that flights from any airport located in Brazil or South Africa to any airport located in Spain, with or without intermediate stopovers, may only be carried out by aircraft carrying exclusively Spanish or Andorran nationals, or residents of Spain or Andorra, or passengers in international transit to a non-Schengen country with a stopover of less than 24 hours without leaving the transit zone of the Spanish airport.
However, the regulation also establishes some exceptions to these limitations, and empowers the Ministry of Health to lift the limitation, authorizing aircraft flights on a case-by-case basis for justified reasons.
The authorities consider that, although it is true that the risk of importing cases from these countries can be reduced thanks to the health control measures applicable on arrival in Spain, this does not mean that precautions should continue to be taken in view of the potential for the spread of the Brazilian and South African variants of the virus.
But the epidemiological situation and especially the impact of the variants of special concern linked to Brazil and South Africa remains very high, so the Government of Spain considers justified to maintain the restrictions on flights from Brazil and South Africa to Spain, through a further extension of the provisions contained in the Agreement of the Council of Ministers of 2 February 2021.
The latest Order PCM/755/2021 of 16 July extends the measures in place for these countries from 00:00 on 20 July (peninsular time) until 00:00 on 3 August 2021 (peninsular time).
From Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia and Namibia
Order SND/791/2021 of 23 July states that any traveller coming to Spain from these countries, with or without intermediate stopovers, must undergo a 10-day quarantine on arrival, as these countries are considered "high risk" in their evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This period may end earlier, if the person has a diagnostic test for active infection with negative result, on the seventh day. Acceptable tests are NAAT or other tests based on equivalent molecular techniques, as well as antigen tests with a minimum performance of ≥ 90 % sensitivity and ≥ 97 % specificity.
During the quarantine period, persons shall remain at home or in their accommodation and shall limit access by third parties and their movements to those necessary for the following activities:
- Procurement of food, pharmaceuticals and basic necessities.
- Assistance to health centres, services and establishments.
- Causes of force majeure or situation of necessity.
Quarantined persons must observe all hygiene and prevention measures against the transmission of COVID-19, both in their movements and in their contact with the people living in their homes or accommodation and with those who provide them with goods or services essential to ensure their food, cleanliness and, where appropriate, health care.
The health authorities may contact the quarantined persons in order to monitor them. Likewise, the Security Forces and Corps may, at any time, carry out the appropriate checks on compliance with the established quarantine conditions. In the event of any suspicion of symptoms of COVID-19, they are asked to contact the health services by telephone, using the numbers available for each autonomous community, indicating that they are in quarantine, by virtue of Order SND/791/2021.
On the other hand, travel agencies, tour operators and transport companies are obliged to inform travellers about these measures at the beginning of the sales process of any ticket to Spain.
These are, therefore, the measures established by the Government of Spain and the Council of Europe in relation to entry restrictions through Spanish borders. These measures are adopted under Article 25.3 of Regulation (EU) 2016/399 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 9 March 2016 establishing a Union Code on the rules governing the movement of persons across borders (Schengen Borders Code), taking into account the seriousness of the situation and in congruence with those adopted within the Spanish territory.
There are therefore three criteria for admission for entry from outside the EU:
- Belonging to any of the categories a) to i), which can be seen at the beginning of this article.
- Be a resident of one of the following countries: Ukraine, Australia, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Albania, Lebanon, Republic of North Macedonia, Serbia, United States, Taiwan, China, Hong Kong SAR and Macao SAR. Added to this list: Kosovo, Saudi Arabia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brunei, Canada, Montenegro, Jordan, Qatar and Republic of Moldova, who are coming directly from these countries, have transited exclusively through these countries or have only made international transits at airports outside these countries.
- Have the vaccination certificate of any of the following vaccines: Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Janssen, Sinopharm, Serum. These certificates will be accepted from 14 days after the date of administration of the last dose of the complete vaccination regimen.
However, these regulations are subject to change at any time. So, always keep an eye out for any updates.
Get a online consultation!
If you need help with your visa or residence permit (non-lucrative, investment, work or study) in Spain, then book a 60-minute online consulting and get useful tips to achieve success.
Book consultation now!