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 17 March 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. Among the measures promoted, the denial of entry to any person coming from third countries was included, except in the following cases:

  1. 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.
  2. Holders of a long-stay visa issued by a Schengen Member State or Schengen Associated State who are going to the latter.
  3. Health care professionals, including health researchers, and elder care professionals on their way to or returning from work.
  4. Transportation personnel, seafarers and aeronautical personnel necessary to carry out air transport activities.
  5. Diplomatic, consular, international organizations, military, civil protection and humanitarian organizations personnel, in the exercise of their functions.
  6. Students studying 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.
  7. Highly qualified workers whose work is necessary and cannot be postponed or carried out remotely, including participants in high-level sporting events taking place in Spain. These circumstances must be justified by documentary evidence.
  8. Persons traveling for duly accredited imperative family reasons.
  9. Persons who provide documentary evidence of force majeure or necessity, or whose entry is permitted for humanitarian reasons.
  10. Residents in third countries, such as: AUSTRALIA, NEW ZEALAND, RWANDA, SINGAPORE, SOUTH KOREA, THAILAND and CHINA, who come directly from them, have transited exclusively through these countries or have made only international transits in airports located outside these countries. In the case of residents of China, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) and Macao SAR, reciprocity remains to be verified.

However, entry into 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.

For people who are 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. Here, you must prove the existence of such relationship and a certain time of cohabitation. Having initiated the marriage or domestic partnership registration procedures in Spain (when they do not require that both members of the couple are 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 rules related to the State of Alarm.

Orden INT/294/2021, of 26 March, is the most recent and extends Orden INT/657/2020, of 17 July, which modified the criteria for the application of a temporary restriction on non-essential travel from third countries to the European Union and associated Schengen countries, for reasons of public order and public health due to the health crisis caused by COVID-19. The Order shall be effective from 24:00 hours on 22 July 2020 until 24:00 hours on 30 April 2021, subject to possible amendment in response to changed circumstances or new recommendations at EU level. At the same time, Orden INT/1236/2020, of 22 December, which establishes and regulates a temporary restriction on access for reasons of public health, from land, to the Schengen area, with the border checkpoint with Gibraltar.

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.
  • The latest recommendation states that as of December 16, 2020, Member States should gradually lift the temporary restriction on non-essential travel to the EU, in a coordinated manner, for persons residing in: AUSTRALIA, NEW ZEALAND, RWANDA, SINGAPORE, SOUTH KOREA, THAILAND, CHINA (Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and Macao Special Administrative Region, pending verification of reciprocity).
  • 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 be COVID-19 negative on the basis of a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test performed no earlier than 72 hours prior to departure, and to provide appropriate certification of such results in the form stipulated by the authorities. If it is not possible to take COVID-19 tests upon departure for Spain, 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 have the possibility to take their COVID-19 test after arrival, in accordance with national procedures.

In addition, EU Member States may require self-isolation, quarantine and contact tracing for a period of up to 14 days, as well as further 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.

From France

In accordance with Council Recommendation (EU) 2021/119 of 1 February 2021, on 26 March the Spanish government issued Order SND/292/2021 implementing new health control measures for people arriving by land from France to Spain. 

This order establishes that all persons, over 6 years of age, coming from risk areas in France, arriving in Spain by land, must have a negative PCR (RT-PCR), a TMA test or other diagnostic test for SARS-CoV-2 based on equivalent molecular techniques, performed within 72 hours prior to arrival.

Risk areas are defined as all areas in France that have been classified by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control as having a risk level of dark red, red, orange or grey, based on the combined indicators set out in Council Recommendation (EU) 2021/119 of 1 February 2021 amending Recommendation (EU) 2020/1475 on a coordinated approach to the restriction of free movement in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

They are exempted from these measures:

  • Road transport professionals in the exercise of their professional activity.
  • Cross-border workers.
  • Residents of border areas, within a 30 km radius of their place of residence.

From UK

With the materialization of Brexit, Spain considered the United Kingdom as a non-EU country, therefore, according to Order INT/657/2020, we find that:

  • British citizens (as third country nationals) cannot travel to Spain at this time, in general terms..
  • EU citizens and their family members -including British citizens- are allowed to.

This is a temporary regulation restricting the entry into Spain of third country nationals for public health reasons due to the COVID-19 health crisis.

The current regulation Orden PCM/1237/2020, which established the limitations of direct flights and passenger ships between the United Kingdom and Spanish airports or ports, due to the appearance of a mutation of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the south of England, was in force until 30 March 2021. And although the epidemiological situation in the UK is improving very slowly, it has been decided not to extend it, so all restrictions on entry from the UK to Spain will disappear. However, it is important to keep an eye on future changes in UK regulations regarding the exit of the country and the reasons that can be given to avoid non-compliance with these regulations.

Gibraltar

In relation to the Rock, the Council of Ministers of the Government of Spain, held on 23 March, with the Order INT/294/2021, agreed to leave without effect, from 18: 00 hours on 30 March 2021 (peninsular time), Order INT/1236/2020 of 22 December, which established different criteria for the temporary restriction of access, by land, to the Schengen area, through the checkpoint of persons with the territory of Gibraltar, due to public health reasons arising from the health crisis caused by COVID-19.

From Brazil and South Africa

Following the identification by Japan in early January 2021 of a new COVID-19 variant with significant biological mutations in 4 individuals from the Brazilian Amazon, and Brazil having reported the presence of a new variant in the Manaus region (Amazon) in the second half of December 2020, it was suggested that the direction of transmission had gone from Brazil to Japan.

In accordance with the above, the Government of Spain considers it justified to temporarily restrict flights from Brazil and South Africa. Therefore, persons wishing to travel from these countries to Spain will be subject to entry denial, for reasons of public order or public health, unless they belong to one of the exceptions contemplated in the rule.

The measures that have been established are as follows:

  • Flights from any airport located in Brazil or South Africa to any airport located in Spain, with or without intermediate stopovers, may only be made by aircraft carrying exclusively Spanish or Andorran nationals, or residents of Spain or Andorra or passengers in international transit to a country outside the Schengen Agreement, with stopovers of less than 24 hours and without leaving the transit zone of the Spanish airport. Flights of State aircraft, search and rescue services (SAR), flights with stopover in Spanish territory for non-commercial purposes and with final destination in another country, exclusive cargo flights, positional (ferry) and humanitarian, medical or emergency flights may also be carried out. The provision established herein shall not apply to the aeronautical personnel necessary to carry out air transport activities.
  • Include Brazil and South Africa in the list of countries that are required to have an Active Infection Diagnostic Test for SARS-CoV-2 with negative result, performed within 72 hours prior to arrival in Spain.

All the aforementioned measures will be in force until March 30, 2021 (Order PCM/222/2021), when they will be reviewed again.

However, Order PCM/284/2021 of 24 March, which publishes the Agreement of the Council of Ministers of the Government of Spain of 23 March 2021, extends the Agreement of the Council of Ministers of 2 February 2021, which established exceptional measures to limit the spread and spread of COVID-19, by limiting flights between Brazil, South Africa and Spanish airports, from 18:00 hours on 30 March 2021 (peninsular time) to 00:00 hours on 13 April 2021 (peninsular time): 00 hours on 30 March 2021 (peninsular time) until 00:00 hours on 13 April 2021 (peninsular time).

From Portugal

Controls at the internal land border with Portugal are extended until 17 April. This is established by Order INT/316/2021, which replaces Order INT/230/2021 of 13 March. Therefore, it will only be possible to enter and leave Spanish territory through the authorised crossing points and during the hours established.

The epidemiological situation in Spain and Portugal has prompted the Spanish authorities to maintain preventive measures restricting mobility within the territory and, after due consultation with the Portuguese authorities, they have decided to maintain controls at the internal land border between the two countries. It is for this reason that: 

  • Only Spanish citizens and their spouse or partner with whom they maintain an analogous conjugal union registered in a public registry, as well as their ascendants and descendants who live under their care, may enter Spain, provided that they are travelling with or to join them. 
  • Those residing in Spain will also be able to cross the border, although it will be necessary to prove their habitual residence, as well as students studying in Spain, residents of other European Union (EU) member states or Schengen associated countries on their way to their habitual residence.
  • Likewise, only those who are going to transit or stay in the territory for exclusively work-related reasons may enter Spain, a category that includes cross-border workers, health and transport workers, while those who document force majeure, necessity or humanitarian reasons are also authorised.
  • Foreign personnel accredited as members of diplomatic missions, consular posts and international organisations may also cross the border, provided they are travelling in the course of their duties, as may participants in State trips and members of the Security Forces and Armed Forces.

This extension is adopted pursuant to Article 25.3 of Regulation (EU) 2016/399 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 9 March 2016, which establishes 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.

However, this order is subject to change at any time. So, always keep an eye out for any updates.

Conclusion

These are, therefore, the measures imposed by the Spanish Government and the Council of Europe regarding the restrictions on entry through Spanish borders.

However, these orders are subject to change at any time. So always keep an eye out for any updates.

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