Top events in Spain

November
01

National and international names from the world of jazz and blues play various venues around town.

November
01

Bilbao's film festival has been organised annually since the 1950s. The screenings come under Spanish films, documentary, fiction and animation...

November
01

This international gymnastics gala welcomes top athletes from around the world for a day-long rhythmic gymnastics competition. Thousands of fans...

Belmonte Castle near La Mancha, Spain
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Belmonte Castle near La Mancha, Spain

© 123rf.com / Matt Trommer

Spain Travel Guide

Key Facts
Area

505,990 sq km (195,363 sq miles). Includes Balearics, Canaries, Ceuta, and Melilla.

Population

46,733,038 (UN estimate 2018).

Population density

92 per sq km.

Capital

Madrid.

Government

Parliamentary monarchy.

Head of state

King Felipe VI of Spain since 2014.

Head of government

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez since 2018.

Electricity

230 volts AC, 50Hz. European plugs with two round pins are standard.

From riotous fiestas and sizzling cuisine to world-class museums and cutting-edge art galleries, there's a reason why Spain endures as one of the world's most popular destinations. Like the country's famous tapas, Spain itself is a tempting smorgasbord of bustling cities, scenic countryside and sunny islands, which visitors can nibble away at on repeat trips or consume in one giant feast. Either way, it is one appetising nation.

In spite of its myriad attractions, most come to Spain for sun, sand and self-indulgence, flocking to the likes of the Costa del Sol and Costa Brava, whiling away days on beaches and nights in clubs. An early pioneer of package holidays, Spain's leading resorts have long been geared up for the mass market – from the Balearics to the Canary Islands – but it's not all sprawling hotel complexes; quaint fishing villages, bijou retreats and secluded beaches abound if you’re looking to veer off the tourist trail.

Spain is much more than holidays in the sun, though. Away from the beach there's an extraordinary variety of things to do; from climbing snow-capped peaks in the Pyrénées to hiking the ancient pilgrimage route of St James's Way; from diving in the protected Medes Islands to stargazing in Tenerife. Alternatively, you could drop in on one of the country's many festivals (think Running of the Bulls, La Tomatina and the Baby Jumping Festival) which are madder than a box of frogs.

And then there are the cities; Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, Seville, Valencia, the list goes on. Each one of these vibrant metropolises has their own distinct flavour; the Dali architecture and sweeping beaches of Barcelona seem a long way from the wide boulevards and soaring skyscrapers of Madrid (though the Catalans may wish it was further). 

But for all their disparities, these cities are bound by Spain's remarkable history and enviable cultural feats, which are proudly displayed in the country's museums, galleries and UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Suffice to say, its popularity shows no sign of waning.

Travel Advice

Coronavirus travel health

Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Spain on the TravelHealthPro website

See the TravelHealthPro website for further advice on travel abroad and reducing spread of respiratory viruses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Entry and borders

Entry restrictions and testing requirements are currently in force for travel into Spain, see Entry requirements.

Returning to the UK

When you return, you must follow the rules for entering the UK.

You are responsible for organising your own COVID-19 test, in line with UK government testing requirements.

If you are unable to return to the UK before the expiry of your visa/permit or visa-free limit due to C-19 restrictions, you should contact your local immigration office (Extranjería) for advice. You can also call 060 from a Spanish phone line.

Be prepared for your plans to change

No travel is risk-free during COVID. Countries may further restrict travel or bring in new rules at short notice, for example due to a new COVID-19 variant. Check with your travel company or airline for any transport changes which may delay your journey home.

If you test positive for COVID-19, you may need to stay where you are until you test negative. You may also need to seek treatment there.

Plan ahead and make sure you:

  • can access money
  • understand what your insurance will cover
  • can make arrangements to extend your stay and be away for longer than planned

Travel in Spain

You should follow the advice of the local authorities on how best to protect yourself and others, including any measures that they bring in to control the virus.

While the nationwide State of Emergency declared by the Spanish government on 25 October 2020 ended on 9 May 2021, some restrictions and curfews remain in force and may vary between regions. Handwashing hygiene, air ventilation rules and the use of face masks in enclosed public spaces and in some specific scenarios outdoors, must continue to be observed at all times. See Use of face masks and Public spaces and services for further information.

Regional governments retain legal powers to ease or tighten restrictions within their region if deemed necessary to control the spread of the virus (e.g. partial lockdowns; limiting the capacity and opening hours of retail, hospitality establishments and public events).

Local and regional restrictions may be introduced at short notice. You should consult regional incidence levels, refer to the advice of local authorities in your destination and ensure you are aware of the specific measures in place prior to travel.

The use of face coverings continues to be mandatory for anyone over the age of 6 years old on all forms of public transport in Spain, in any enclosed space open to the public, and outdoors where social distancing of 1.5 metres cannot be observed. Specific rules on the use of face masks may vary by region. See Use of face masks for further details.

Road travel

Land borders are open.

The Spanish government has implemented testing requirements for those travelling overland from France into Spain by road or rail. See Entry requirements for details.

The French government has implemented additional entry requirements for those travelling to and transiting through France. If you are planning to drive from Spain through France, check the latest FCDO travel advice for France ahead of your journey.

Border controls at the Portugal land border with Spain have been lifted. See FCDO travel advice for Portugal for further information.

Inter-regional travel may be restricted if your point of origin and destination fall within a confined area where entry and exit restrictions are in place. You should check the advice of local authorities in your destination prior to travel.

Transiting confined areas is permitted; however, you should be prepared to show evidence of your onward journey such as train or flight tickets to your final destination.

If you need to travel during the hours of curfew, you should carry evidence of your reason for travel such as a certificate from your employer, proof of medical appointment, or proof of onward journey such as train or flight tickets. To find out more about specific exemptions you should refer to guidance from local authorities.

If travelling with people who are not from the same household, all passengers must wear a face mask covering the nose and mouth. Penalties may be imposed if you do not comply. See Use of face-masks.

Public spaces and services

Social distancing measures and other safety precautions should continue to be observed at all times.

While the nationwide State of Emergency declared by the Spanish government on 25 October 2020 ended on 9 May 2021, some restrictions and curfews remain in force and may vary between regions. Many municipal and regional authorities have introduced other types of measures such as limiting the opening hours and capacity of bars and restaurants, and in some places these remain closed until further notice. You should refer to local authorities for any additional measures where you are as this may vary from one region to the next.

You must continue to observe the following rules regardless of your whereabouts in Spain:

  • social distancing of 1.5 metres
  • obligatory use of face masks in enclosed public spaces or outdoors where social distancing of 1.5 metres cannot be observed v (see Use of facemasks)
  • abide by any safety measures put in place by establishments such as hotels, bars, shops and restaurants to reduce the risk of COVID-19
  • wash your hands frequently and thoroughly and use hand sanitizer gel where soap and water is not available

Spanish regional authorities may also impose the following additional restrictive measures:

  • an overnight curfew (specific curfew times vary between regions)
  • social gatherings may be limited (e.g. to a maximum of 6 people outdoors and a maximum of 4 people inside restaurants and bars)
  • people from different households may not be permitted to meet indoors in private homes (unless they have caring responsibilities for a dependent)
  • capacity restrictions at beaches or other public areas such as the delineation of plots and the use of booking systems. You should refer to local authorities for information on the measures in place
  • if visitors test positive or develop symptoms during their stay in Spain, they may be moved to specific designated accommodation to prevent further spread

These measures may vary between regions. You should refer to local and regional authorities for advice.

Use of face masks

From 26 June, it will no longer be mandatory to wear a face mask outdoors where social distancing of 1.5 metres is observed. However, face mask use remains mandatory for anyone over the age of 6 years in the following circumstances:

  • In any enclosed space open to the public (e.g. shops, restaurants, hotels, hospitals etc.)
  • In any indoor space where people who are not from the same household mix
  • In any outdoor space where it is not possible to observe social distancing of 1.5m (e.g. crowded streets, concerts, public demonstrations etc.)
  • On all forms of public transport including planes, trains, trams, buses and metro, as well as all transport stations, platforms and airports.

Specific rules on the use of face masks may vary between regions. You should refer to local authorities for specific information on face-covering requirements and any exceptions where you are.

Penalties may be imposed if you do not comply.

Those with respiratory problems or those unable to wear a mask due to other health conditions or disabilities are exempt from this rule. More details are available from the Ministry for Health (in Spanish).

While not mandatory, the use of face masks on children between 3 and 5 years of age is recommended in the scenarios listed above.

Face masks must cover the nose and mouth.

Healthcare in Spain

For contact details for English speaking doctors visit our list of healthcare providers and healthcare for UK nationals visiting Spain.

Developing symptoms of COVID-19 while in Spain

If you think you have symptoms, including a fever or respiratory difficulties such as shortness of breath or a cough, you should stay in your accommodation and call your regional hotline. Most of the regional hotlines listed have English speaking staff. Some regions offer alternative helpline numbers for those calling from non-Spanish mobile phones:

  • Andalusia: Tel. +34 955 545 060
  • Balearic Islands: Tel. +34 971 211 991
  • Canary Islands: Tel. +34 928 301012 for Gran Canaria province or +34 922 470012 for Santa Cruz de Tenerife province
  • Catalonia: Tel. +34 933 039 944

If you are staying in a hotel or resort, your accommodation provider may have a list of private doctors that they can call to assess your symptoms and conduct a COVID-19 test.

If you have arranged your own accommodation you can find details of English speaking doctors on our list of healthcare providers.

Remember that an EHIC or GHIC covers state healthcare only, not private treatment. You will be responsible for the cost of any treatment provided by a private doctor or hospital.

In order to return to the UK at the end of your stay, you need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken in the 3 days before you leave for the UK (see the Before you leave for the UK page for further information).

Testing positive for COVID-19 while in Spain

If you are tested and the result is positive, you must self-isolate in your accommodation and call your regional hotline or one of the alternative helpline numbers as set out above. You must remain in your accommodation until contacted by local Spanish authorities. Contact times may vary across regions and can take up to 48-72 hours.

You may be able to remain in your existing accommodation, or be required to transfer into a state hospital or other government-provided accommodation. You may be required to fund accommodation whilst you wait to be transferred.

The nature of your accommodation may differ from the specifications of your pre-booked hotel, villa or other place of stay.

Depending on local arrangements, travellers in groups may be required to stay in separate accommodation (e.g. if a sufficient number of rooms is not available in one venue, your group may be spread across different accommodation locations).

You should follow the advice of the local authorities at all times.

Quarantine hotels

If you test positive for COVID-19 you may have to enter a quarantine hotel. The UK government will not cover mandatory quarantine costs for British nationals.

EHIC or GHIC cards therefore cannot be used to cover the cost of staying in a quarantine hotel. Make sure you have access to funds to cover the costs or take out insurance, checking the policy has adequate cover.

If you have or are entitled to an EHIC or GHIC and you need state healthcare treatment while staying at a quarantine hotel, the UK government will fund treatment as usual through the EHIC/GHIC scheme. Remember that an EHIC or GHIC does not cover private treatment. You will be responsible for the cost of any treatment provided by a private doctor or hospital.

Find out more from the NHS website about EHIC and GHIC healthcare cover abroad.

For information regarding access to healthcare in Spain see healthcare for UK nationals visiting Spain.

Your emotional and mental wellbeing is important. Read guidance on how to look after your mental wellbeing and mental health

View Health for further details on healthcare in Spain.

COVID-19 vaccines if you live in Spain

Wherever possible British nationals should aim to be vaccinated in the country where they live. We will update this page when the Government of Spain announces new information on the national vaccination programme. You can sign up to get email notifications when this page is updated.

The Spanish national vaccination programme started in December 2020 and is using the AstraZeneca, Janssen (Johnson and Johnson), Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. British nationals resident in Spain are eligible for vaccination. Spain operates its health system regionally, therefore the way people access the vaccine will differ depending on where you live. You should refer to your regional health authority for information regarding the vaccination plan in your area. If you are already registered for public healthcare you should be contacted by your regional health service to make an appointment when it is your turn to be vaccinated.

Further information is available below if you live in Spain but are not registered for public healthcare, for example, if you have private health insurance.

For more general information from the Spanish government regarding vaccines in Spain, see their vaccination strategy (only available in Spanish).

COVID-19 vaccines if you live in Spain but are not registered for public healthcare

We have received the following information from certain Spanish regional healthcare authorities for those who are not registered for public healthcare (for example, those who have private health insurance). Please be aware that this is information from the Spanish authorities and is subject to change. Some information may only be available in Spanish.

  • Andalusia: You should visit Andalusia’s health service website for details on how to register for the vaccine. More information on the campaign is available on the Andalusia’s vaccine website
  • Aragon: You should visit your local health centre and request a “código de identificación autonómico”, also known as an AR code. Once obtained, you should book an appointment online
  • Asturias: You should go to your local health centre to register for the vaccine. For further information on the vaccination campaign in Asturias see AsturSalud
  • Balearic Islands: You should call 971 211 999 to register for the vaccine. More information is available from the Balearic Islands health service website
  • Canary Islands: You should go to your local health centre to register your contact details. To do so you must show your identification documentation such as a passport and a padrón certificate to demonstrate that you are a resident in the Canary Islands. Once registered, you will be issued an appointment for the vaccine
  • Castilla La Mancha: You can register for the vaccine by e-mailing dgsp.vacunas@jccm.es with your personal details, including your name, date of birth, full current address, passport or NIE number and a copy of your padrón certificate if available. You should also provide a Spanish mobile telephone number in order to receive SMS notifications. Alternatively, you can also register by calling 925 24 83 67
  • Castilla y Leon: You should visit one of the regional vaccination hubs (no appointment necessary). You must show your passport, residency documents or TIE, and padrón certificate
  • Catalonia: You should apply for a ‘basic’ health card first. Once you receive the card at your home address, you can book a vaccine appointment. For further information see the Catalan regional governments website
  • Galicia: You should call 881 002 021 to register for the vaccine. For further information see Galicia’s regional health service webpage
  • La Rioja: You should register for the vaccine by emailing vacunascovid@larioja.org with your personal details including your full name, NIE number, date of birth and mobile telephone number
  • Madrid region: You should call 900 102 112 to register for the vaccine. For more information see the Madrid regional government website
  • Murcia: You should register online for the vaccine at the Murcia’s health service website or call 900 121 212
  • Navarra: You should visit your local health centre with your identification documentation and book an appointment with a social worker
  • Valencia region: You should go to your local health centre to register. You will be given a provisional health card to cover the vaccination and any other public health needs. You should visit the Valencia regional government health service website to check and update your contact details

If the region you live in is not listed above, you should contact your local health centre or private insurance company for further information.

We are aware that some people have been able to sign-up to the vaccine list in their region by registering temporarily at their local health centre with their residency document. This temporary registration is known as an ‘alta temporal’. You should contact your local health centre for further information.

Details for further regions will be added to this page once available.

Find out more, including about vaccines that are authorised in the UK or approved by the World Health Organisation, on the COVID-19 vaccines if you live abroad.

If you’re a British national living in Spain, you should seek medical advice from your local healthcare provider. Information about COVID-19 vaccines used in the national programme where you live, including regulatory status, should be available from local authorities.

If you receive your COVID-19 vaccination in Spain, you can get an EU Digital COVID Certificate from the national authorities. The Certificate proves that you have been vaccinated against COVID-19, received a negative test result, or recovered from COVID-19. It will help facilitate your travel within the EU and, in some countries, you can use it to demonstrate your COVID-19 status to businesses and other organisations. For further information visit the European Commission’s EU Digital COVID Certificate page.

Finance

For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.

Further information

For more information from the Spanish authorities, see the Spanish Ministry of Health website or their official Twitter channel.

If you need urgent consular assistance, contact your nearest British embassy, high commission or consulate. All telephone numbers are available 24/7.

Political situation

You should follow the advice of police and local authorities regarding demonstrations in Spain.

There have been large gatherings of people and demonstrations in some parts of Barcelona and other areas of the Catalonia region in relation to political developments there. Some demonstrations have become violent, with protesters causing damage to property and disruption to transport. Further gatherings and demonstrations may take place and demonstrations intended to be peaceful can escalate and turn confrontational. If you’re in an area where demonstrations are taking place, you should remain vigilant, follow the advice of local authorities and move away quickly to a safe place if there are signs of disorder.

Crime

Most visits to Spain are trouble-free, but you should be alert to the existence of street crime, especially thieves using distraction techniques. Thieves often work in teams of two or more people and tend to target money and passports. Don’t carry all your valuables in one place, and remember to keep a photocopy or scanned copy of your passport somewhere safe.

Take extra care to guard passports, money and personal belongings when collecting or checking in luggage at the airport, and while arranging car hire.

In some city centres and resorts, thieves posing as police officers may approach tourists and ask to see their wallets for identification purposes. If this happens to you, establish that the officers are genuine and if necessary show some other form of ID. Genuine police officers don’t ask to see wallets or purses.

Personal attacks, including sexual assaults, are rare but they do occur, and are often carried out by other British nationals. Be alert to the possible use of ‘date rape’ and other drugs including ‘GHB’ and liquid ecstasy. Buy your own drinks and keep sight of them at all times to make sure they aren’t spiked. Alcohol and drugs can make you less vigilant, less in control and less aware of your environment. If you drink, know your limit - remember that drinks served in bars are often stronger than those in the UK. Avoid splitting up from your friends, and don’t go off with people you don’t know. Check the TravelAware ‘Stick with your mates’ campaign for more helpful tips and advice.

Make sure your accommodation has adequate security measures in place and lock all doors and windows at night or when you aren’t in. If you’re a tourist and are concerned about the security of your accommodation, speak to your tour operator or the property owner. Make sure you know the contact details of the local emergency services and the location of the nearest police station.

Vehicle crime

Be aware of ‘highway pirates’ who target foreign-registered and hire cars, especially those towing caravans. Some will (forcefully) try to make you stop, claiming there is something wrong with your car or that you have damaged theirs. If you decide to stop to check the condition of your/their vehicle, stop in a public area with lights like a service station, and be extremely wary of anyone offering help.

When driving, be wary of approaches by bogus police officers in plain clothes travelling in unmarked cars. In all traffic-related matters, police officers will be in uniform, and all police officers, including those in plain clothes, carry official ID. Unmarked police vehicles have a flashing electronic sign on the rear window which reads Policía (Police) or Guardia Civil (Civil Guard), and normally have blue flashing lights. Genuine police officers will only ask you to show them your documents and will not ask for your bag or wallet/purse.

Reporting crime

In any emergency, call 112.

To report a crime, including stolen property and lost or stolen passports, visit the nearest Policia Nacional, regional police (Ertzaintza in the Basque Country, Mossos d’Esquadra in Catalonia, and Policia Foral in Navarre) or Guardia Civil Station to file a police report (denuncia). Some Spanish cities also offer a ‘Foreign Tourist Assistance Service (SATE - Servicio de Atención al Turista Extranjero) run by the Town Hall and National Police where foreign tourists can report crimes in a variety of languages, including English.

While in Spain, you can also call a dedicated English-speaking police line on +34 90 210 2112 from 9am – 9pm 7 days a week, or file a police report online for minor offences such as bag or car theft.

Be aware that violent crime or sexual assault must be reported in person at the nearest police station. If you’ve had belongings stolen, you’ll need to keep the police report for insurance purposes.

If your passport is lost or stolen, you’ll also need the report to apply for an emergency travel document from the nearest British Consulate and to apply for a replacement passport when you return to the UK.

Taxis

Only use officially registered or licensed taxis, or reputable transport companies you recognise. Licensing regulations differ across Spain and in certain cities pre-booking is required.

Passengers caught using unlicensed taxi services are liable for fines of up to 600€. Make sure you book your taxi or airport transfer through a licensed firm.

Falls from height

There have been a number of very serious accidents (some fatal) as a result of falls from height, including balconies. Many of these incidents have involved British nationals and have had a devastating impact on those involved and their loved ones. Don’t take unnecessary risks around balconies or other high places, particularly if you’re under the influence of drink or drugs. In some regions you may be evicted from your hotel if you are found to be behaving irresponsibly.

You should familiarise yourself with the layout of your hotel and accommodation block when you arrive. Always follow the safety advice of your hotel and/or tour operator if staying in a room with a balcony and watch out for friends who may be at risk.

Some local councils will impose fines to those caught behaving irresponsibly on balconies. Your travel insurance may not cover you for incidents that take place on a balcony or if you were under the influence of drink or drugs when it happened.

Outdoor activities

Take care when swimming in the sea. Some beaches, especially around Spanish Islands, may have strong undercurrents. Most of them have a flag system. Before swimming, make sure you understand the system and follow any warnings (a red flag means you mustn’t enter the water). You should take extra care if there are no lifeguards, flags or signs. Follow local advice if jellyfish are present.

You should avoid swimming at beaches that are close to rivers. Don’t dive into unknown water as hidden rocks or shallow depths can cause serious injury or death.

Take care when walking along unmanned beaches close to the water’s edge as some waves can be of an unpredictable size and come in further than expected with strong undertows. Further tips can be found on ABTA’s swim safe pages.

Temperatures in some parts of Spain can change very quickly. Take extra care when planning a hike or walk to check local weather reports for warnings of extreme heat or cold temperatures.

If an accident occurs whilst mountaineering, canoeing, potholing or climbing, or if you become lost in the mountains or other areas requiring mountain rescue, call 112 for the emergency services or 062 for the Civil Guard.

For advice on safety and weather conditions for skiing or other outdoor activities call the Spanish National Tourist Office in London on 020 7317 2028 or see the European Avalanche Warning Services.

The Catalonia region has started billing negligent climbers, skiers and other adventurers who have to be rescued.

Road travel

In 2019 there were 1,755 road deaths in Spain (source: Department for Transport. This equates to 3.7 road deaths per 100,000 population and compares to the UK average of 2.6 road deaths per 100,000 of population in 2019.

If you are planning to drive in Spain, see information on Driving Abroad.

Licences and documentation

To drive a car or a motorcycle over 125cc in Spain you must be 18 years of age or above, and at least 16 years old to ride a motorcycle up to 125cc. You must carry a valid driving licence, proof of insurance and proof of identity at all times.

You can drive in Spain on your full UK driving licence (provisional licences are not valid for driving in Spain).

If you’re living in Spain, check the Living in Guide for information on requirements for residents.

If you are using UK insurance, always carry your certificate with you in case you are stopped. This certificate is generally only valid for a stay of less than 3 months - contact your insurer if you’re staying longer.

Driving a British car abroad

You will need a GB sticker or a UK sticker to drive your car outside the UK. From 28 September UK stickers will replace GB stickers. Check the GOV.UK Displaying number plates website for more information on what to do if you are driving outside the UK before, on or after 28th September 2021.

Driving regulations

Driving is on the right. Driving rules and customs are different from those in the UK.

You must carry two red warning triangles which, in the event of an accident or breakdown, should be placed in front of and behind the vehicle at least 50 metres away from the vehicle. You must have a spare wheel and the tools to change it. If at any time you have to leave your vehicle due to an accident or breakdown or while waiting for the arrival of the emergency services, you must wear a reflective vest or you may face a heavy fine.

Spain has strict drink driving laws. Police regularly carry out roadside checks for alcohol and drugs. Penalties include heavy fines, loss of licence and imprisonment.

Police can impose on-the-spot fines for a variety of driving offences including exceeding the speed limit. Should you choose to accept the fine and pay within 20 days, it will be reduced by 50%. More information on how to pay is available on the Spanish driving agency website.

Seat belts are compulsory for all passengers in the front and back seats. Children under the age of 12 or under 1.35m in height are required by law to use an approved child safety seat and must be positioned in the back seat. Children are only permitted to travel in the front seat of the car if the rear seats are already occupied by other children or if the vehicle does not have rear seats. Car hire agencies can provide child seats, so let them know you need one when you reserve the car. Incorrect installation of a child seat or not wearing a seat belt can be considered a serious offence and met with heavy fines.

Motorcyclists (including drivers of mopeds and quads) must wear an approved safety helmet and other protective clothing. Not wearing one is considered a serious offence and can result in a fine.

Talking on a mobile phone when driving is forbidden, even if you have pulled over to the side of the road. You must be completely away from the road. Using an earpiece is also prohibited but you’re allowed to use a mobile phone with a completely hands-free unit.

See the European Commission, AA and RAC guides for more information on driving in Spain.

Vehicle restrictions

Some cities in Spain have introduced emergency anti-pollution protocols to limit exhaust emissions when air pollution levels are high. When activated, vehicle access is restricted and speed limits are imposed. Follow the instructions of the local authorities.

Madrid and Barcelona operate permanent low emission zones which require all vehicles (including foreign registrations) to meet specific exhaust emission standards in order to be granted entry. Vehicles that comply will be issued an eco-sticker (‘distintivo ambiental’) or equivalent from the Spanish Traffic Authority (DGT) which determines its ability to circulate and park in the zone. Access requirements vary and foreign number plated vehicles may be required to register or accredit their exhaust emissions with the local authorities prior to accessing the zone. Unregistered vehicles who do not meet emission standards will be issued a penalty notice. If your hotel or accommodation is located in a low emission zone, check which access provisions are available to guests (i.e. car park, one-day passes etc.).

See the MadridCentral and Barcelona Ring Roads Low Emission Zone websites for further information.

Timeshare and holiday clubs

Timeshare ownership is well established in Spain with many respected companies, agents and resorts operating legally and fairly. However, there are also many unscrupulous companies, some of which claim to provide various incentives, which don’t always materialise.

You may find it useful to read the timeshare fraud advice from Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud reporting centre, run by the National Fraud Authority.

Terrorists are likely to try to carry out attacks in Spain.

UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out more about the global threat from terrorism.

Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners. The Spanish authorities take measures to protect visitors, but you should be vigilant and follow the instructions of the local authorities.

On 17-18 August 2017, there were 2 terrorist-related incidents where vehicles were driven directly at pedestrians, resulting in injuries and loss of life. These were in the Las Ramblas area of Barcelona and Cambrils, near Salou (100km southwest of Barcelona).

The Basque terrorist organisation ETA’s last major attack was in 2006 and it hasn’t mounted any attacks since 2009. In May 2018 it announced it was “disbanding”. British nationals have not been a target of ETA terrorism.

Spanish police have disrupted a number of groups suspected of recruiting individuals to travel to Syria and Iraq from 2015 to the present date. Some of them expressed an intention to carry out attacks in Europe.

There’s a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.

Taking food and drink into Spain

You cannot take meat, milk or products containing them into EU countries. There are some exceptions for medical reasons, for example certain amounts of powdered infant milk, infant food, or pet food required for medical reasons. Check the rules about taking food and drink into the EU on the European Commission website.

Unaccompanied minors

Spanish law defines anyone under 18 to be a minor. Any unaccompanied minors that come to the attention of the Spanish authorities (for whatever reason, but particularly in connection with criminal incidents or when in hospital) are judged to be vulnerable and may be taken into a minors centre until a parent or guardian can be found.

Providing ID

You must provide photo ID if requested by a police officer. This includes the Guardia Civil and national, regional and local police forces. The police have the right to hold you at a police station until your identity is confirmed.

Ignoring direct requests or challenging a police officer may be viewed as ‘disobedience’, which is a criminal offence.

Hotels have a legal duty to register the passport details of tourists on check-in. Wait until the hotel staff have registered your passport details or taken a photocopy of your passport. Don’t leave it at reception to collect later.

Drugs and alcohol

Possession of even a small quantity of drugs can lead to arrest and detention. Possession of large quantities will probably result in prosecution and a prison sentence if convicted.

Some local councils in Spain have banned the consumption of alcohol in the street and on-the-spot fines may be issued. There are strict controls on drinking and sexual activity in public places, including beaches.

LGBTI travellers

Spain is a tolerant and progressive place for LGBTI travellers. There are active LGBTI communities and social venues, particularly in big cities. Same-sex marriage has been legal in Spain since 2005. As of 17 March 2007, the law allows a transgender person to register under their preferred sex in public documents such as birth certificates, identity cards and passports without undergoing prior gender reassignment surgery. Spain does not recognise a third gender. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.

Dress

In some parts of Spain it’s against the law to be in the street wearing only a bikini or swimming shorts/trunks. Being bare-chested has also been banned in some areas of Spain. Some local councils will impose fines if you’re caught wearing swimwear on the seafront promenade or the adjacent streets.

For security reasons, some public authorities in Spain don’t allow the burka or niqab to be worn in their buildings. If you visit town council buildings wearing a burka or niqab, you may be asked to remove it while inside.

This page reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British Citizen’ passport, for the most common types of travel.

The authorities in Spain set and enforce entry rules. For further information contact their embassy, high commission or consulate. You may also check with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and travel documents meet their requirements.

If you are travelling to Spain for work, read the guidance on visas and permits as the rules have changed since 1 January 2021.

Entry rules in response to coronavirus (COVID-19)

Entry to Spain

The Spanish government requires all arrivals to Spain from the UK to present on entry a pre-travel declaration form and one of the following: a negative COVID-19 test; or proof of vaccination. See Testing and vaccination requirements for arrivals from the UK for details.

If you are travelling to Spain from another country, see Testing and vaccination requirements if travelling to Spain from outside the UK.

If you are travelling from mainland Spain to the Balearic or Canary Islands, or you are staying in tourist accommodation in the Canary Islands, see Travel to the Balearic and Canary Islands.

If you are travelling to Spain overland (by road or rail) from France or Portugal, see Overland travel and transit.

If you are transiting through Spanish airports from the UK, see Air transit.

All travellers should follow the advice of the local authorities on how best to protect themselves and others, including any measures that they bring in to control the virus. See the Coronavirus section for further information.

Plan ahead in case you present symptoms or test positive for COVID-19 during your stay in Spain, see Be prepared for your plans to change and Testing positive for COVID-19 while in Spain.

Quarantine and testing on return to the UK continues to apply, see Returning to the UK.

Testing and vaccination requirements for arrivals from the UK

The Spanish government requires all arrivals to Spain from the UK (excluding children under the age of 12 years old) to present on entry one of the following:

  • documentation certifying that you have undertaken a COVID-19 nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT - e.g. PCR, TMA, LAMP or NEAR) within 72 hours prior to arrival in Spain and tested negative. Antigen tests can only be used in certain limited circumstances (as outlined in section ‘k’ of the ‘Entry requirements for entry in Spain from third countries’ on the Spanish Ministry of Health ‘Travel and COVID-19’ page) and are not accepted if you are travelling from the UK to Spain for tourism purposes (see Reason for travel to Spain below for further information)

or

  • proof of being fully vaccinated (with both doses of a two-dose vaccine or one dose of a one-dose vaccine) at least 14 days prior to arrival in Spain (date(s) of vaccination must be specified), with a vaccine authorised by the European Medicines Agency or by the World Health Organisation.

Spain will accept the UK’s COVID-19 vaccination record. Your NHS appointment card from vaccination centres is not designed to be used as proof of vaccination and should not be used to demonstrate your vaccine status.

Certificates of recovery - a medical document certifying that you have recovered from COVID-19 in the last 6 months prior to travel - is not currently accepted for arrivals from the UK. See the Spanish Ministry of Health ‘Travel and COVID-19’ page for details.

Documents can be in either English, Spanish, French or German and in paper or electronic format. All documents must specify the name and surname of the passenger. See ‘Entry requirements for entry in Spain from third countries’ section ‘k.’ on the Spanish Ministry of Health ‘Travel and COVID-19’ page for details regarding proof of vaccination and the types of diagnostic tests that can be presented when travelling to Spain from the UK.

All passengers (including children under 12 years old) travelling by air or sea must complete and sign an online Health Control Form no more than 48 hours prior to travel. See Arrival by air or sea for details.

Further rules may apply if you have travelled to a country on Spain’s list of ‘risk’ countries in the 14 days prior to travel to Spain.

Reason for travel to Spain

Entry requirements and the type of diagnostic tests you can present may vary if your reason for travel to Spain falls into one of the categories listed on the ‘Entry requirements for entry in Spain from third countries’ - section ‘a’ to ‘i’ - on the Spanish Ministry of Health ‘Travel and COVID-19’ page. This includes residents of Spain. If one of the exemptions listed applies to you, an antigen test taken within 48 hours of arrival can be presented on entry as an alternative to a certificate of vaccination, a negative nucleic acid amplification test (such as PCR, LAMP, TMA etc.) taken within 72 hours prior to arrival, or a certificate of recovery.

Antigen tests are not accepted if you are travelling from the UK to Spain for tourism purposes.

Testing and vaccination requirements if travelling to Spain from outside the UK

The Spanish government publishes and reviews their list ‘risk countries’ every 7 days. All passengers (excluding children under the age of 12 years old) travelling to Spain who have visited a ‘risk country’ in the previous 14 days should be prepared to show evidence of one of the following on entry:

A minimum fine of €3000 may be issued to anyone who does not comply with this requirement.

Travel to the Balearic and Canary Islands

If you are travelling to the Canary or Balearic islands from mainland Spain, you may be required to present a negative COVID test depending on the region you are travelling from. You should refer to your travel operator and the local authorities in your final destination for guidance on domestic entry requirements.

For specific information on travel to the Balearic Islands see the Balearic Islands Tourism board.

In some parts of Spain, regardless of your country of origin, tourist accommodation providers may require you to present evidence either of a negative test, of being fully vaccinated or of having had and recovered from COVID-19 in the last 6 months. This currently applies in the Canary Islands, see the Canary Island tourist board website for details. Children under the age of 12 are exempt from testing. Tests permitted are PCR (RT-PCR for COVID-19), Transcription Mediated Amplification (TMA), and Antigen tests. You should check with your accommodation provider prior to travel.

Arrival by air or sea

Before travel to Spain, all passengers (including children under 12 years old) travelling by air or sea must complete and sign an online Health Control Form no more than 48 hours prior to travel declaring any known history of exposure to COVID-19 and giving contact details.

Anyone who has not completed this form electronically via the Spain Travel Health website or app, may submit it in paper format prior to boarding.

On arrival into Spanish ports and airports, you may be subject to the following requirements at the point of entry:

  • Present the QR code (hardcopy or digital) issued on completion of the online Health Control Form prior to travel.
  • Undergo a temperature check
  • Undergo a visual health assessment

All passengers (excluding children under the age of 12 years old) travelling to Spanish airports and ports from the UK should be prepared to present:

  • evidence of a negative test taken within 72 hours prior to arrival, or;
  • evidence of being fully vaccinated

See Testing and vaccination requirements for arrivals from the UK.

All passengers (excluding children under the age of 12 years old) arriving into Spain who have visited a ‘risk country’ in the previous 14 days must show:

  • evidence either of a diagnostic test,
  • vaccination
  • or recovery certificate

If travelling from a country where Spain has travel restrictions, you should check with the Spanish Embassy in that country before you travel to Spain. Due to current travel restrictions, be aware that you may be questioned on arrival by Spanish border authorities to ensure you meet the legal entry requirements. Spanish border authorities will only grant entry if they are satisfied that you meet the entry requirements and reserve the right to deny passage.

Anyone who presents symptoms or fails to meet one of the above requirements will be required to undergo a test on arrival and will be obliged to observe the COVID-19 protocols in place as determined by the local authorities of your destination in Spain.

Passengers may also be contacted and required to undertake a PCR, TMA or LAMP test at any point up to 48 hours after their arrival in Spain.

Air Transit

If you are transiting Spain by air from the UK you are not subject to testing requirements, however all passengers (including children under 12 years old) are required to complete and sign an online Health Control Form no more than 48 hours prior to travel declaring any known history of exposure to COVID-19 and giving contact details. You should check with your travel operator and the authorities at your final destination if a negative test is required on entry.

Overland travel and transit

Spain’s land borders are open, however travel restrictions, border controls and testing requirements may be in place depending on the country you are travelling from.
Overland travellers from France (excluding children under the age of 12 years old) who wish to enter Spain by road or rail, may be required to present one of the following documents on entry:

  • a certificate or document certifying you are fully vaccinated against COVID-19
  • documentation certifying that you have undertaken a diagnostic test (e.g. PCR, LAMP, TMA or antigen test) and tested negative 48 hours prior to crossing the border into Spain
  • a medical certificate certifying that you have recovered from COVID-19 in the last 6 months prior to travel

The following groups are exempt from this requirement:

  • Haulage workers
  • Frontier workers
  • Residents of border regions within a radius of 30 km

Check FCDO travel advice for France for further information.

While these testing requirements don’t apply to overland travellers from Portugal, Andorra and Gibraltar, travel into Spain from all locations may be limited.
Border controls at the Portugal land border with Spain have been lifted. See FCDO travel advice for Portugal.

If you are travelling to Spain via Gibraltar, check the latest entry requirements and FCDO travel advice for Gibraltar. Entry requirements and testing requirements are currently in force for travel into Spain, Entry requirements

Inter-regional travel is permitted, providing your point of origin and destination do not fall within a confined area where entry and exit restrictions are in place. Transiting confined areas to reach your final destination is permitted, however you should be prepared to show evidence of your onward journey such as train or flight tickets to your final destination. See Coronavirus for further information.

If travelling with people who are not from the same household, all passengers must wear a face mask covering the nose and mouth. Penalties may be imposed if you do not comply. See Use of face-masks

Regular entry requirements

Visas

The rules for travelling or working in European countries changed on 1 January 2021:

  • you can travel to countries in the Schengen area for up to 90 days in any 180-day period without a visa. This applies if you travel as a tourist, to visit family or friends, to attend business meetings, cultural or sports events, or for short-term studies or training
  • if you are travelling to Spain and other Schengen countries without a visa, make sure your whole visit is within the 90-day limit. Visits to Schengen countries within the previous 180 days before you travel count towards your 90 days
  • to stay longer, to work or study, for business travel or for other reasons, you will need to meet the Spanish government’s entry requirements. You should check with the Spanish consulate in the UK prior to travel regarding what type of visa and/or work permit you may need. If you are unable to return to the UK before the expiry of your visa/permit or visa-free limit due to C-19 restrictions, you should contact your local immigration office (Extranjería) for advice. You can also call 060 from a Spanish phone line. If you are visiting Spain and need to extend your visa-free stay for exceptional reasons, such as a medical emergency, you must apply to the immigration authorities (Extranjería) to do so
  • if you stay in Spain with a residence permit or long-stay visa, this does not count towards your 90-day visa-free limit

At Spanish border control, it is likely you will need to use separate lanes from EU, EEA and Swiss citizens when queueing. Your passport may be stamped on entry and exit unless you can demonstrate that you are resident of Spain and are returning to your place of residence (see Requirements for UK nationals resident in Spain section below for further details). You may also need to:

  • show a return or onward ticket
  • show you have enough money for your stay
  • show proof of accommodation for your stay, for example, a hotel booking confirmation, proof of address if visiting your own property (e.g. second home), or an invitation from your host or proof of their address if staying with a third party, friends or family. The Spanish Government has clarified that the “carta de invitation” is one of the options available to prove that you have accommodation if staying with friends or family. More information is available from the Spanish Ministry of Interior.

Requirements for UK nationals resident in Spain

If you are resident in Spain, you should present proof of residence - such as the ‘TIE’ (la tarjeta de identidad de extranjero) - as well as your valid passport when you pass through border control. If the Spanish border authorities are satisfied that you are a resident in Spain, your passport should not be stamped on entry and exit.

Passport validity

Check your passport is valid for travel before you book your trip, and renew your passport if you do not have enough time left on it.

Make sure your passport is:

  • valid for at least 3 months after the day you plan to leave Spain, or any other Schengen country
  • less than 10 years old

The 3 months you need when leaving a country must be within 10 years of the passport issue date.

If you renewed your current passport before the previous one expired, extra months may have been added to its expiry date. Any extra months on your passport over 10 years may not count towards the minimum 3 months needed.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

UK ETDs are accepted for airside transit and exit from Spain. ETDs are only accepted for entry to Spain if you are legally resident in Spain.

Travel between Spain and Gibraltar

Spanish border checks can cause delays when crossing between Spain and Gibraltar. If you are travelling to Spain via Gibraltar, check the latest entry requirements and FCDO travel advice for Gibraltar. Entry requirements and testing requirements are currently in force for travel into Spain, see Testing requirements.

There is no charge to enter or leave Gibraltar. Don’t hand over money if you’re approached by anyone claiming that there is a charge.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Spain on the TravelHealthPro website

See the healthcare information in the Coronavirus section for information on what to do if you think you have coronavirus while in Spain.

At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest country-specific health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website. Each country-specific page has information on vaccine recommendations, any current health risks or outbreaks, and factsheets with information on staying healthy abroad. Guidance is also available from NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website.

General information on travel vaccinations and a travel health checklist is available on the NHS website. You may then wish to contact your health adviser or pharmacy for advice on other preventive measures and managing any pre-existing medical conditions while you’re abroad.

The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or purchased in the UK can be different in other countries. If you’re travelling with prescription or over-the-counter medicine, read this guidance from NaTHNaC on best practice when travelling with medicines. For further information on the legal status of a specific medicine, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate
of the country or territory you’re travelling to.

While travel can be enjoyable, it can sometimes be challenging. There are clear links between mental and physical health, so looking after yourself during travel and when abroad is important. Information on travelling with mental health conditions is available in our guidance page. Further information is also available from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC). Specific information on mental health support for British nationals in Spain can also be found on GOV.UK.

Healthcare

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 112 and ask for an ambulance.

You should get a free UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) or European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before leaving the UK. If you already have an EHIC it will still be valid as long as it remains in date.

The GHIC or EHIC entitles you to state provided medical treatment that may become necessary during your trip. Any treatment provided is on the same terms as Spanish nationals. If you don’t have your EHIC with you or you’ve lost it, you can call the NHS Overseas Healthcare Team on +44 191 218 1999 to get a Provisional Replacement Certificate.

It’s important to take out appropriate travel insurance for your needs. A GHIC or EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance and you should have both before you travel. It does not cover all health-related costs, for example, medical repatriation, ongoing medical treatment and non-urgent treatment. Read more about what your travel insurance should cover.

As a general rule, if you need hospital treatment in Spain you’re more likely to receive appropriate care in a public healthcare facility (although in some tourist areas there may be no public healthcare facility nearby). Your insurance/medical assistance company will be able to provide further details. Some hotels may call private doctors or ambulances to take patients to private hospitals; the EHIC won’t be accepted there. For more information, visit Healthcare for UK nationals living in Spain.

If you’re living in Spain, you can also find more information on healthcare for residents in the Living In Spain guide.

On Sunday 19 September 2021, at approximately 15.15 local time, there was a volcanic eruption on the Spanish Canary Island of La Palma. The immediate areas of Los Llanos de Aridane, Tazacorte and El Paso have been evacuated.

If you are in an affected area you should follow the advice of local authorities, including social media updates from Cabildo de La Palma.

If you are planning to travel to the island imminently you are encouraged to contact your tour operators / airlines.

Please see the Cabildo de La Palma information point (only in Spanish) and the Canary Islands Volcanology Institute for updates on the situation.

Flooding

Flash flooding can occur resulting in damage to property, infrastructure and travel disruption. Check weather warnings from Spain’s meteorological office (AEMET) before travel and follow the advice of the local authorities.

Forest fires

Forest fires occur frequently in Spain (including Spanish islands) during the summer months, when temperatures regularly reach over 40ºC. Take care when visiting or driving through woodland areas.

Causing a forest fire is considered a criminal offence in Spain even if unintentional. Make sure cigarette ends are properly extinguished, don’t light barbecues and don’t leave empty bottles behind. There are strict regulations across much of Spain against lighting outdoor barbecues in forest areas and penalties imposed include heavy fines. Some regions prohibit the use of outdoor barbecues in public picnic areas during the summer months.

Check on the outbreak of fires with the local civil protection authority and report any you see immediately to the emergency services on 112.

The currency in Spain is the Euro.

When changing money, you should always use official money exchange offices or banks, as possession and use of counterfeit money is considered a very serious crime in Spain and may lead to prosecution.

When buying goods in Spain with credit or debit cards, you may need to show ID. You may be able to use a driving licence or a photocopy of your passport, but you may be required to show your original passport.

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the FCDO in London on 020 7008 5000 (24 hours).

Foreign travel checklist

Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.

Travel safety

The FCDO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.

When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCDO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.

Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.

Refunds and cancellations

If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.

For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Registering your travel details with us

We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.

Previous versions of FCDO travel advice

If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCDO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. Versions prior to 2 September 2020 will be archived as FCO travel advice. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send the Travel Advice team a request.

Further help

If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.

Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.