Entry requirements to Spain and the Canaries

The FCDO has updated its travel requirements for visitors to Spain and the Canaries as below. Questions can be directed to the FCDO HERE.

SPAIN GENERALLY: (Please note that this information also applies to the Canaries since the Canaries are part of Spain. In other words this does not just apply to the mainland).

On arrival, travellers entering Spain from the UK will not be required to self-isolate.

However, from 23 November, all passengers (including children) travelling to Spanish airports and ports from ‘risk’ countries (as determined by the European Centre for Disease Prevention & Control  see their map HERE) will be required to present a negative PCR (swab) test taken within no more than 72 hours prior to arrival, in order to enter the country. The UK is currently on the ‘risk’ countries list and passengers arriving from the UK are therefore subject to this requirement.

This requirement applies to all passengers arriving in Spain by air or sea, regardless of your residency status in Spain and the length of time you intend on staying. Property owners in Spain are subject to this requirement.

If you are travelling by air or sea to Spain, you must declare on the mandatory ‘Health Control Form’ listed below, that you have undertaken a PCR (swab) test within 72 hours of arrival, have tested negative for COVID-19, and can show on request evidence certifying your results. The document you provide must be the original, be written in Spanish or English, may be submitted in paper or electronic format and must contain the following information:

  • name of passenger
  • passport number or ID card number (the number provided must match the one provided on the Health Control Form)
  • test date
  • name and contact details of the testing centre
  • testing method applied (i.e. PCR)
  • test results

You will also be subject to the following additional requirements at the point of entry:

  • it is mandatory for all passengers travelling to Spain to fill out and sign a Health Control Form 48 hours prior to travel, providing the Spanish Ministry of Health with:
  • contact information;
  • details of any known history of exposure to COVID-19; and
  • confirmation that you are able to provide evidence, certifying that you have undertaken a PCR (swab) test within 72 hours or arrival and have tested negative for COVID-19.

You can do this on the Spain Travel Health website or downloadable app. On completion, you will be issued a personal and non-transferable QR code which you must show (electronically or hardcopy) at airport health controls on arrival. 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.

  • temperature check
  • undergo a visual health assessment

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.

Fines may be issued to anyone who arrives in Spanish airports and ports from ‘risk’ countries without adequate evidence of a negative PCR (swab) test.

Passengers may also be contacted and required to undertake a PCR (swab) test at any point up to 48 hours after their arrival in Spain.

You should not use the NHS testing service to get a test in order to facilitate your travel to another country. You should arrange to take a private test.

Overland travellers to Spain and those transiting are exempt from the above-mentioned entry requirements, and are therefore not currently required to present a PCR test or Health Control Form on entry by road or rail.

CANARIES SPECIFICALLY:

From November 14th until further notice, if you’re travelling to the Canary Islands and are booked into regulated tourist accommodation, you will be obliged to:

  • produce an official, negative COVID-19 test taken no more than 72 hours earlier, when checking in to your accommodation
  • download and activate the Radar COVID notification app throughout your stay on the islands, and for 15 days after your return home

These measures apply to all guests aged 6 years and over, unless they have proof of travel confirming their uninterrupted presence on the islands for the previous 15 days. Any traveller failing to comply, risks being refused access to accommodation. For further information, refer to guidance from the Canarian tourist board, and check with your accommodation provider prior to travel.

You should not use the NHS testing service to get a test in order to facilitate your travel to another country. You should arrange to take a private test.

TRANSITING SPAIN (travelling through Spain from another country OR FROM ONE PART OF THE COUNTRY TO ANOTHER – NB the Canary Islands are part of Spain):

If you are transiting Spain by road or via a Spanish airport or port on route to your final destination, the above mentioned PCR test requirement and Health Control Form to enter the country does not apply. You should however, be prepared to show evidence of your onward journey (i.e. connecting flights, ferry tickets etc.).

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.

Spain re-opened its borders with Portugal on July 1, see FCDO travel advice for Portugal.

For information on travel via Gibraltar, see FCDO travel advice for Gibraltar

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.

52 Comments

  1. And here comes the downgrade. A recommendation to accept the less reliable but cheaper antigen testing in lieu of current PCR requirements. Why the recommended change? Pressure from tourist lobby groups.

    Can only hope that this recommendation is rejected but cynical old me doubts that it will be. After all, we’re all mortal and need protection …….. but only if it’s cheap and doesn’t interfer with tourisim.

  2. For once we agree Ray. It would be absolutely shameful to downgrade the requirements for financial reasons of any kind. Not after all we have been through on these islands during the first wave to get the the numbers down. If we have to go through it all again, so be it, but we need to be as safe as we were the first time. if tourism is going to make us less safe, then why is this allowed? A second and even third wave has always been predicted. PCR tests on entry was established to try and resolve the problem and should not be changed because people are moaning about the inconvenience or the cost. I don’t think the virus gives a damn about tourism and is unlikely to decide not to attack just because people want to go on holiday in a pandemic

  3. What recommendation to downgrade the test? I can’t see any reference to that

  4. I agree Ray! As the antigen tests have a sensibility of 40 to 60% (39% to,62%). If there are 15.000.000 tourists pee year in the Canary Islands, 40-60% means that 9.000.000 tourists can be entered as covid positive with a négative test… As every person generally contaminates 1 to 3 others persons, with 9,000,000, it means that it will be a disaster.

  5. Author

    The EU has recommended an antigen test rather than specifically a PCR test, and of course the tourism authorities have said it’s a good idea and what they’ve been calling for … because it makes it easier for tourists. Spain at present has not changed its specific requirement for a PCR test though to enter the country from next Monday, though the Canarian Government’s accommodation test law in place already since the 14th will accept antigen tests or any other than show active infection.

  6. The (Roche) antigen tests have a sensitivity of 96.52% and specificity 99.68%

  7. RAY and MARY

    You put into words my thoughts exactly – no need for my words now, thanks very much!!

  8. From here:

    https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/coronavirus-disease-2019-testing-basics

    An antibody test looks for antibodies that are made by your immune system in response to a threat, such as a specific virus. Antibodies can help fight infections. Antibodies can take several days or weeks to develop after you have an infection and may stay in your blood for several weeks or more after recovery. Because of this, antibody tests should not be used to diagnose COVID-19. At this time researchers do not know if the presence of antibodies means that you are immune to COVID-19 in the future

  9. Author

    And perhaps more importantly, the presence of antibodies does not indicate whether you are still infectious or not. Your effect on others is far more significant than their effect on you.

  10. The request/recommendation is for antigen tests to be allowed, not antibody tests. They are different.

  11. Author

    Yes, antigens are present when a person is infectious, and disappear when the person is no longer infectious. Antibodies, however, hang around possible for a couple of months. Antibody tests are tricky because a (false) negative result could be because the test is done too soon after infection, or a false positive can occur when the person has recently had an infection of some other kind of coronavirus.

  12. Neither PCR or antigen tests actually tell you about on-going infectiousness – depending on their sensitivity they will still be positive if the virus is dead but fragments remain, as they can for a long time after an infection. This was the problem for the unfortunate UK students teaching in Italy who were trapped there for weeks in the summer because they kept testing positive. The tests only tell you whether or not viral material is detectable or undetectable by that test, after huge assumptions that there was a good sample taken in the first place, transported and stored properly, and that a highly discriminatory test was used and processed correctly by a proper laboratory. Good quality tests are not likely to suffer from cross-reactions to other coronaviruses but will be specific for COVID-19. (I used to work in this field but TG I am retired!).

  13. Thanks for all the help you give on here, it’s really valuable especially when the official guidance isn’t always easy to find. I think some people are understandably confused as the Canaries Government went ahead with their requirement to produce a negative test to accommodation providers followed by the different requirement from the Spanish Gov. I tend to agree it’s better not to downgrade the test requirement from a PCR test, but imagine it would be very helpful to move to a 96 hour test window as the logisitics of 72 hours seems to be what is causing the headache, in the UK at least. 72 hours is an arbitrary figure as it is, but don’t know what an extra 24 hours does to the probability of catching the virus after the swab is taken, statistically speaking.

  14. Totally agree Hayles…..we are due to fly over on 2nd Dec to stay in our own apartment for the first time since Jan. We have covid tests booked for 30 Nov and will get results back the following day. But we work for ourselves and are grateful that we have been able to carry on operating our businesses through this lockdown so there’s no way we are going to sit at home the day after our tests. We’ll carry on taking the same precautions we have done throughout the whole year but there is still no guarantee we couldn’t pick it up. Similarly the day we do fly from Manchester Airport we cold pick it up there especially considering the last time we flew early Oct it was like a circus there! So basically there’s a window of 48 hours from having our test where we could pick up the virus. What’s the alternative? Get tested every day which is plain ridiculous. The 72 hours window will be difficult over the Xmas period for sure.

  15. Author

    It would be even harder though if they had quarantine for 10 days as Norway does for all arrivals including family visitors, not just tourists, with violation a criminal, not civic offence – so prison not a fine. I imagine there are quite a few who’d like to see that, a toughening rather than a relaxing of measures.

  16. Not sure if I am following your point Janet, I hadn’t heard of any plans to move to quarantine in Spain. I just think if you are going to put a robust measure in place, such as a PCR test, at least make it achievable or it doesn’t serve it’s purpose. Some countries have a 96 hour window, but I haven’t seen the statistical data that justifies 48, 72 or 96 hours. I suspect it’s arbitrary, but could be wrong.

  17. Author

    Janet’s point is that the restriction of having to present a test is much easier than if they were to impose a quarantine, the message being that perhaps people are complaining too much about the situation because it could be far more difficult. The quarantine was one option they had been studying, but decided against it for the present.

  18. Author

    As Mencey says, I wasn’t making a point about any Spanish plans for quarantine but simply saying that some residents here would prefer entry conditions to be tighter rather than more relaxed. In terms, however, of introducing a rule that’s not achievable, it is not Spain’s problem that the UK can’t seem to get its act together for testing purposes. The regulations are in place for anyone from a risk country not just British visitors, but no other country seems to be having a problem, or complaining about one. The fact that one country has a problem in achieving a requirement imposed by another country for its own safety doesn’t mean that safety rules shouldn’t be imposed.

  19. I work in a tourist complex and the last few days, people have arrived without having the negative test result for various reasons.
    The reception staff quite simply called the nearest and cheapest test centre, the clients had the antigen test very quickly and efficiently and brought the results to reception.
    Little fuss needed or required by either the clients or staff.

  20. Author

    That was the system that was put in place and is working as reported, which is good news. It’s fine until the 23rd but from then on, anyone from a high risk country must bring a PCR test for Border Control anyway so that will do for the accommodation too.

  21. Correct INTERESTEDPARTY. I pasted para 2 from the link. Should have been para 2. Fat fingers and small phone 😏

  22. That’s ‘should have been para 1’ . Lol

  23. Thanks Janet- I take your point. It’s certainly not Spain’s problem that the UK testing is inadequate. I assumed the reason for having the PCR test requirement at all is to allow tourists (and others) to visit, if they are free from virus. If it’s stopping those from one of their biggest markets coming at all then not sure what they have achieved from an economic perspective. There will be those that grumble about the expense of the test which I have less sympathy with but for many it’s just the logistic of finding a test with a quick enough turnaround to allow you to board a flight, especially if you are flying on a Wednesday. I gather that’s what the talks with TUI and and the Ministry are focussed on, not the need for testing per se.

  24. Author

    Well they’re trying to balance the economic perspective with the health one, and obviously this is a balance that different countries will strike differently, but for Spain, the balance is weighted for heath. They’ve been very explicit about that.

  25. I will be travelling from ireland next week. Ireland is an orange zone I am wondering are there any regulations entering Tenerife from an orange zone. I cannot find any information regarding this

  26. Author

    Ireland is still on the last list HERE of high-risk countries. Since it’s gone to orange on the map, though, I would expect it to be removed from the list when it’s next updated – supposed to be every fortnight. The list is currently a week old so in a week’s time I would expect Ireland to be in the clear (ie not red on the map nor on the list) BUT for the moment it remains on the high risk list and so a test will be required.

    If you’re staying in regulated tourist accommodation in the Canaries, though, you’ll need one whatever Ireland’s risk status is at the time you arrive.

  27. Hi just wondering if you know more information in regards to NHS pcr tests being accepted? I work in the hospitals so I am required to get regular nhs tests anyway so aslong as this was within 72 hours of my arrival to Tenerife would this be accepted? Iv got in touch with my accommodation and they said this would be fine but just making sure

  28. Author

    As this post says, the British Government has confirmed in the last few days that NHS tests are not to be used for foreign travel. But if you’re getting one anyway as part of your work AND it will be no more than 72 hours old when you arrive here, I see no reason not to use it and it will be accepted by Spain as long as it’s a PCR test which is what they specifically require.

  29. Janet these conversations regarding testing may become irrelivant if the authorites are serious about compliance to the rules. They only need to view several videos on social media and it will confirm widespread disregard for wearing masks and social distancing. A video i have just seen about a night walk in las americas shows the majority are disregarding the rules. I fear a lock down could be coming. We may have to spend our first Christmas in uk for twenty years. We still want to come but the odds are against us. We also hope your paradise island does not start to resemble Lesbos . I have followed your site almost since day one but this is my first comment

  30. Author

    Agree with you Mick … and welcome!

  31. To be honest Mick we need a lockdown and I would welcome it. But I am concerned that it won’t happen because the tourist lobby is so strong and are trying to ‘save’ the Christmas season. Maybe my concerns will prove to be unfounded. I hope so.

  32. I’m curious about the reference to high risk areas requiring a pcr test. Does this mean travellers from an orange traffic light area don’t need one for entry to Spain? Can’t seem to nail down the information!

  33. Author

    Red is high risk countries, orange is risk. Test only required for high risk. Therefore test only required for red. Therefore test not required for orange. 🙂

  34. Yes Ray you do need a lockdown. But please don’t moan then about Tenerife being destitute….because without tourism it is! The UK can survive lockdowns…..there is help from the government. But Tenerife is a tourist destination & needs people to visit! And before you get on at me we have had a place in Costa Adeje for 12 years. We put it on the market before all this started in Feb….for us we are done with the place anyway…but obviously hope the situation improves so we can sell up & move on!

  35. If your traveling on 26th December 2020 how our you meant to get a covid19 test and certificate as I worked it out 72 hours before we fly is 23rd December but most places our closed help

  36. Author

    That does not sound possible. Spain is not responsible if people cannot comply with perfectly reasonable safety measures. If you book a holiday in the middle of a pandemic, then you are knowingly taking a risk that you will be thwarted by changing rules.

  37. Ray I totally agree about another lockdown but can it wait until after Monday morning – I have a delivery scheduled from Mercadona and I was caught out in March (lockdown 14 March and scheduled delivery a day or two later) On a more serious, less selfish note, if we have just two weeks of lockdown it could well improve our situation but even more so, if EVERYONE complied with the few restrictions – for some reason these have gone out of the window (not just tourists ignoring them) but even two weeks would help I’m sure.

  38. I am retired, and living in a residential complex in Chayofa. In normal times, during the day you would not see anyone in the complex, they were at work.
    Now most of the appartments are occupied during the day, and talking to friends and aquaintances here, on the most part they have lost their jobs or have been laid off due to closures of shops, restaurants and hotels.
    This island is built on tourism, especially in the south. These people are mainly Tenerifians, not blow ins, swallows or tourists (which all seem to be used as faintly derogatory terms at the momment) and they are suffering the health and economic consequences of the pandemic.
    People on here should recognise this and realise the difficulty faced by the regional and central government in trying to strike the right balance in protecting peoples health and the the economic consequences arising from the protective measures needed to contain or stop the spread. Many are too quick to judge others, and I am not condoning overcrowded bars or non compliance in the wearing of face masks, but if you are concerned for your own health you must take your own precautions, stay at home where possible and stay safe.
    I am now going to put on my tin hat and take shelter under the table.
    John G

  39. A lockdown probably is necessary to put the brakes on the current increase in infections both in Tenerife and the U.K. However once restrictions are eased what is needed, I agree, is compliance with the basic rules by everyone, otherwise what is the point!? Clearly infections were going to increase after the first lockdowns were lifted but had everyone complied with the basic measures the numbers shouldn’t have rocketed to current levels as they have done everywhere. I am sick of hearing that people aren’t complying because fatigue has set in and they’re fed up. Well I am as fed up as everyone else, separated from friends and family in a top tier area, but there is no alternative to full compliance at present. The virus doesn’t appear to get fed up but merely thrives on everyone mixing, mingling and travelling.

  40. John G do you have a spare tin hat? I’ve got a glass table under which to take shelter so I can ‘see’ the virus approaching (I wish it was as simple as that!!) I really do feel for those still of working age (something good about being a pensioner) but I fear another lockdown is the only way out. Incidentally, not taking any chances, I’ve managed to reschedule my Mercadona delivery from Monday to tomorrow.
    Stay safe everyone.

  41. Thank you Janet and others for working so hard to keep people informed on this very fluid situation. The bottom line is we will all have to take special precautions and measures(testing) to ensure we do not spread this virus if we choose to travel. Hopefully only over the next year or so. I spend a month or so every year in Tenerife during the winter but would be very aware of not contributing to any spread of the on the island.

  42. I am sure Denise that you would take every precaution and act responsibly but the bottom line is that no one absolutely can guarantee that they would not bring the virus with them or pick it up and spread it while here or take it back to the U.K. Testing before flying to Tenerife reduces the risks considerably but testing is not a silver bullet. This was illustrated by Janet’s post on the Polish tourist who tested positive after turning up at his second hotel. Yes, the system picked him up but the fact remains he was on the island with the virus. Anyone could pick up the virus between their test and their flight or have had such a low viral load at the time of the test that they tested negative. So even having taken precautions and being tested you could still be infectious or pick up the virus from a fellow passenger. Much has been said about each of us determining whether we are prepared to take the risk but actually those you come into contact with haven’t made that choice but are having your risk assessment for yourself imposed upon them. This site is concerned properly with matters affecting Tenerife but the point shouldn’t be lost that those who travel to the island also have to fly back and tests are not required for that leg of the journey. Accordingly, as happened in the summer when some overseas travel took place, many tourists brought back the virus to the U.K. Essential travel to and from the island is one thing but travel purely for a holiday during a global pandemic is irresponsible.

  43. hi All
    i live in the uk but family live in Tenerife ,they will be coming home for xmas as this could be the last Christmas with big nannie .i have no problem with the test having to be done ,the issue is the 72hrs especially over the holiday season .96hrs which some countries are asking for is more realistic .also the uk nhs can get results quick 36hrs is the current time but even if you used this it would not be valid as passport number required IS THIS CORRECT ? .i was lucky to visit back in july but it was so sad to see all the places and hotels shut (my son and i did a 5mile walk along the front)i just hope that the tourist sector can recover stay safe

  44. Author

    Yes it is correct, see THIS post specifically about the PCR test and its requirements, and in any case the NHS test should not be used for foreign travel as the UK Government says in their statement above. These requirements by spain are acknowledged to be difficult but the Government is not trying to be “realistic” for potential virus carriers but to protect the country, its health service and us from passengers carrying an untreatable lethal disease in a global pandemic!

  45. hi janet
    the information here is class..but could you confirm please that as from 23rd november everyone entering tenerife including children must have a negative PCR test…Does this include Babies

  46. Author

    Assuming human, yes. Please see HERE.

  47. Hi Janet
    I live in France, about 20 minutes from the Spanish border, and come to Tenerife every year. I am not concerned about actually taking the test but am concerned that I may not get the results back in time as I am travelling over the Christmas period.
    As I read it when I enter Spain by road (or by rail) I do not need to produce any paperwork. When I then fly from Barcelona to Tenerife I am travelling within Spain so again I do not need to produce any paperwork, other than my French ID card when I check in at Barcelona.
    Is my understanding correct? I am not trying to avoid the test it’s just that IF the results are not back in time I do not want to be refused entry into Tenerife.

  48. Author

    I can confirm that you will not need the test in Tenerife because you are not arriving from outside Spain. However, the situation with regards travelling from France to Spain may change, and I suggest you read the post above where there is a link to check the French border.

  49. Thank you Mencey. Our border with Spain is currently open but we cannot leave our Department! However there will be an announcement on Tuesday 24 November which hopefully will announce a lifting of restrictions around 19 December. Fingers crossed.

  50. Janet. Just to say – it has taken 20 phone calls , much frustration, and patience today to track down the proposed new Covid ( commercial) testing facility at Gatwick S terminal. The Company themselves were unaware that none of the obvious routes for info had even the slightest knowlege / interest – eg the airport information, any airline, any hotels e g Premier Inn since it is opening on 30 November there may be some of your readers who might be looking to get PCR tests. I can send a link as required. Thanks Janet for all your work.

  51. Hi Janet,

    Firstly, thank you for what you are doing, you are doing a great service for all.

    I have been commenting on a large facebook forum stating that I ‘knew’ the 72 hours refers to the time between testing and arrival. Now today a user has forwarded to me the exact text she has received from a testing company stating quite unequivocally that the time the sample is tested in the lab is the start time for the 72 hours.
    I have checked your reference just now ” you have undertaken a PCR (swab) test within 72 hours of arrival” So this infers the swab time. However, I checked the Spanish government website and it is actually a little ambiguous as it reads as follows ” in order to enter Spain, a certificate with a NEGATIVE PCR result (COVID-19 RT-PCR), carried out in the 72 hours before arrival”.
    So the test needs to be carried out but do they mean the swab or the test of the swab?
    I know this is very annoying but I fly on Tuesday, the lady I am advising is also.
    Confirm testing – https://www.confirmtesting.com/?fbclid=IwAR2_54QVYKWn1rvbS–Y_GEHjDmoIfsEzOh-J7RCEzrnWYW23AXRFLU7N8Y
    They are telling people it is the lab test time not the swab test time.
    I would love to hear your view on this utter confusion.

    Ps The FAQ reads =
    4. How long in advance should I have my AIDT done?
    The AIDT should be carried out within 72 hours prior to your arrival in Spain.

    So that is no clearer really.
    Take a look:
    https://www.mscbs.gob.es/en/profesionales/saludPublica/ccayes/alertasActual/nCov/spth.htm?fbclid=IwAR1Yyy0-WnnsCjneUTzVyhcTORTLlNBQ5sU2Iwqa3Dq0QRcfK0alOKFyUSY
    Thank you for any help you can give.

    Please feel free to reply directly or reach the forum here:
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/371352793951499

  52. Author

    I don’t know why a test centre would be saying this other than to cover themselves for possibly delayed results or maybe this is all the usual hobby in some quarters of seeking ambiguity to create confusion, undermine confidence, and generally cause mayhem, but the information given by an English testing company is completely irrelevant to Spanish officials interpreting Spanish law. 

    All that matters is what the Spanish law says. As the UK Government says above, and as I posted HERE, the law says that a test must be carried out within the 72 hours prior to arrival. Not analysed. Carried out. Note that the certificate required must show the details of the lab that did the analysis and the date the test was carried out – “fecha de realización de la prueba”. They clearly differentiate between the analysis and the date the test was done.

    As far as Facebook goes, I dislike it intensely, as any regular reader here already knows so I will not be going over there, and I really object to being used as a kind of Facebook arbiter or adviser to a Facebook proponent to provide again information already given and freely available. As Mencey said just earlier today in the comments to the other post, it is abusive to keep doing so and I consider this now abusive absolutely. Both threads are now closed to comments.

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