If you had been hoping that family members and friends from the UK would be coming out in their droves to visit you this summer, don’t make up the guest room just yet. There are a lot of buts, says Annie Bennett, who is dying to get back out here herself…
Are you sitting comfortably? Have you got a nice cup of tea or coffee? Or even better, a cold beer, a glass of wine or a stiff G&T?
So let’s just try and get the important stuff straight:
UK visitors do NOT need a vaccine certificate or negative Covid test to enter mainland Spain or the Balearic Islands, in accordance with legislation that came into force on May 24th. You DO still have to fill in the Spanish travel health control form before travelling.
BUT, before you merrily chuck your bikini in your case: Spain – we’re talking about mainland Spain, the Balearic Islands and the Canary islands now – is on the UK’s amber list, so you need to take a PCR test before returning to the UK, then self-isolate at home for 10 days and take further obligatory tests on day two and day eight (with the option of an additional test on day five to reduce the isolation period).
Another very important BUT: The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office advises against non-essential travel to mainland Spain and the Balearic Islands, which makes most standard travel insurance policies invalid. Read the full terms here.
And another BUT: The Canary Islands are not on the FCDO list, so your travel insurance should be OK – and the islands’ government is also providing supplementary insurance for tourists until August. Some other regions, including the Balearic Islands and Andalucia, are also offering free insurance for tourists.
Another big BUT though: If you are going to the Canary Islands, You DO currently need proof of vaccination (one jab is fine) or a negative test to show on arrival. I have detailed the situation here.
With me so far? Need to top up that drink?
So what were all those reports all over the UK news yesterday about, saying that Spain was opening up to international travellers IF they have been fully vaccinated? You may well ask. I read several articles, listened to people talking on the radio and watched reports on the news and even on The One Show about this and spent a lot of time gawping and going WHAT???
It is absolutely correct that yesterday, 7 June, Spain introduced major changes to the rules that indeed open up mainland Spain and the islands to international travel and tourism, with varying stipulations according to the country of origin. You can read the full list of terms here.
Long story short, visitors from the European Union and the European Economic Area can now visit Spain but need to show a vaccine certificate, negative Covid test or proof that they have had Covid and recovered.
The confusion arose yesterday because some reports in the UK media just stated that Spain was opening up to vaccinated travellers without specifying that the new rules do not affect the existing conditions for visitors from the UK – and a lot of people in the UK were unaware of the free-for-all introduced for British visitors on 24 May, so understandably thought that the new rules applied to them and meant they could now go to Spain if they were vaccinated or had a negative test etc.
To be clear, in the legislation that came into force yesterday, the UK is on the Spanish government’s list of countries that DO NOT require visitors to Spain to be vaccinated, show a negative test or prove they have had Covid, thereby reinforcing the existing situation.
Need a little lie down?
I hope that I have clarified things a bit and haven’t muddied the waters even more. We are all dreaming of that transparent turquoise Mediterranean after all.
You can easily check what’s what for your destination on the Spanish tourist office’s Travel Safe website. The Balearic Islands’ Safe Tourism website is very useful too, as is the Canary Islands Safe Destination site. I would also advise checking the excellent Lanzarote Information site, which cuts through the crap and updates the situation in the Canaries daily.
Of course, things are more than likely to change again in a few weeks. Hell, they’ll probably have changed by the time you finish reading this. The UK government’s next update to the traffic light system is due on 28 June when, with a bit of luck, Spain, the Balearics and the Canaries will all make it onto the green list. BUT we’ll have to see what happens with the variants and the number of cases of course, in the UK, Spain and the islands. As always, expect the unexpected.
Anyone feel they need a holiday?
Annie Bennett is the Spain expert for the travel section of The Telegraph in the UK and has been visiting here for “more years than I care to admit” (though she did concede, at least 40…) She also runs the excellent Mooching Around Spain site, and has forgotten more about all things Spain than most of us are likely to ever know in the first place…