Spain extends ban on UK arrivals to 2 February

Updated 12 January: Spain has already extended its ban on non-resident arrivals from the UK once, and it’s now done so again, for a further fortnight to 5pm on 2 February. Only those residents who can prove their status as residents through a Registro or TIE may enter Spain – proof of starting the process with an official receipt is no longer sufficient because that period of grace was only between 4 and 11 January. The Spanish Government has explained that the extension of the ban is because of uncertainties over the extent of the new UK strain which has now been registered around 70 times in Spain and because the UK’s epidemiological situation has progressively worsened.  

Updated 11 January: The grace period provided by Spain for new residents who have started the registration period but do not have the final TIE has now ended. Following FCDO requests for some flexibility, Spain allowed new registrants to return between 4 and 11 January provided they could show the official receipt to prove the request for a TIE. Now, again, only those with a TIE or a Registro can enter … and the problem with the Registro seems to have been resolved, as anticipated.

Updated 3 January: The controversy over residents with Registros being refused permission to board to return home to Spain continues, with incidents now recorded on Alitalia and Iberia flights from the UK. Yesterday, the FCDO had asked the Spanish Government to be a bit more flexible when it came to those

And so, Spain has today responded to the problems being faced by these two groups – residents with Registros and new residents who’ve not yet got their TIE. The response is below, in English, and confirms that Registros are valid and that those who’ve started the process should be allowed to board the flight and enter Spain within the window of grace 4-10 January inclusive provided they can show the official receipt to prove the request for a TIE. I would print this confirmation out and carry it with me if I were travelling (click the image to see it full size). It is also confirmed by the Spanish Embassy in the UK HERE.

Updated 2 January 2021: Spain has extended its ban on non-resident arrivals until 19 January. The FCDO has also confirmed HERE that only those residents who can prove their status as residents through a Registro or TIE may enter Spain – proof of starting the process, and even acceptance, is not sufficient without the final document.

Updated 28 December: Spain’s ban on non-resident arrivals from the UK ends, as things currently stand, at 5pm on 5 January, but can be extended: only residents and Spanish nationals can enter, and British nationals presently have two means of showing legal residence, both equally and completely valid – the new TIE and the old Registro. HMA Hugh Elliott has said this afternoon, however, that he understands that Ryanair has refused to allow some British nationals to board their flights despite being legally resident in Spain.

The reason is unconfirmed but appears to be because the proof they were offering for residency was the green Certificado de Registro which, Spanish authorities have confirmed, remains valid whether A4 or credit-card sized. The Ambassador asks anyone so affected to let him know directly through his twitter handle @HughElliottUK or, naturally, the information can be passed to him by whichever means you use to follow official FCDO information, whether through the Embassy in Madrid’s wide range of social media, or the Consulate here in Tenerife.

Updated 23 December: HERE is the legislation restricting all arrivals by air or sea from the UK to legal residents and Spanish nationals. The law came into force, the decree says, at 5pm (6pm mainland) yesterday and will be in place until the same time on 5 January. Unfortunately there is no clarity for those who have applied for the new TIE but who don’t yet have their application approved or who aren’t in possession of their card: presumably anyone who’s applied for the TIE at this stage on the grounds of permanent residence is expected to be in Spain already anyway.

Updated 6pm: Yes this includes the Canaries because the Canaries are part of Spain. Yes the fact that the Canaries are part of Spain comes as a surprise to many tourists. Yes this means British nationals cannot enter unless residents. Yes the UK Government has updated its travel advice. Yes the UK Government still excludes the Canaries … from its travel advice not to come to Spain. The UK Government still thinks it’s fine for people to come to the Canaries. Unfortunately for visitors coming from the UK, Spain does not agree and has banned their arrival from tomorrow, unless resident with proof of residence, and the ONLY legal proof of residence is a Certificado de Registro (green NIE) or a TIE.

Original post 21 December: The Spanish Government has announced this afternoon that from tomorrow (presumably midnight tonight), in coordination with Portugal, arrivals from the UK are suspended from entry to the country. Spanish nationals or residents will be allowed to return home, so flights continue but only Spaniards and residents will be able to enter the country. Spain says that border controls in Gibraltar will also be strengthened. The decision has been taken, the Government says, “following today’s EU crisis meeting which analysed the effects of the new strain of covid19 detected in the UK.” Spain says that it again stressed the need to take coordinated measures throughout the EU, but as it warned, it was prepared to take independent measures to protect itself if necessary. It has now done so.  


  1. How do Spanish residents go about returning, will some flights continue to run?

  2. Author

    No idea, you need to ask the airlines. But my guess is that at least some flights will continue simply because there will be a number of people needing to return home both to the UK and from it. Airlines have the incentive to fly because that way they need not compensate passengers who can’t join them.

  3. I remember you advised some days ago that those leaving the island should make sure they had all their residency paperwork with them to be sure of being re-admittance. What foresight!

  4. Author

    No credit to me for that, that was the Foreign Office … but to be fair, a mole in a balaclava could have foreseen this!

  5. The new strain could be a blessing in disguise for Tenerife.
    The suspension of arrivals from Britain might give us the opportunity to get the numbers down again before introducing a more measured approach to restarting tourism from the UK.
    I appreciate that today’s news will be devastating for many people, but we couldn’t continue the way we were, something needed to change.
    On the whole I’m seeing this as a positive for the island in the long run.

  6. Lee. A blessing in disguise, I agree. Certainly I will rest easier, seeing how the tourists that are already here are behaving. Christmas is bringing back the grief for so many people who have lost someone to Covid this year, and seeing people risking their own health and that of the residents just to have a holiday is not an easy sight for them.

  7. We are in the UK at the moment as we needed to come back for a funeral. We rent a place in Tenerife. We have Padron and NIE. We have just been approved for residency just need our fingerprints etc. We are returning on 29th. Will we be classed as residents as my daughter goes to school in Tenerife. I have all the paperwork with me.

  8. Author

    Since residents need registration paperwork, as advised recently by the FCDO (see HERE), I would say that it depends on whoever is checking arrivals as to whether they accept an application, as opposed to actual registration documents, is acceptable. I would check with the FCDO.

  9. Love the mole in a balaclava, Janet. 🙂 And I agree with you, this was so obviously going to happen, I can’t imagine why people are even surprised, never mind shocked

  10. Actually glad to see the strong action being taken both internally and on tourism.BUT – where is the enforcement? Still seeing a great many unmasked people, but very few police or enforcement patrols compared to March. Let’s take this seriously

  11. Finally, a decision which makes sense. Makes me feel much better.
    As far as paperwork goes, if I travel, I have all my papers with me, nothing more than common sense. I also have copies of all documents. I am registered with the embassy.
    If you are in an application process, you either don’t travel or have a valid confirmation with you (whatever this might be). This is not rocket science but part of living abroad.
    Oh, this brings back old memories, having worked with “expats”.
    By the way, as a “half European”, I know from experience how to follow the rules, whether I agree with them or not.
    Best wishes

    P.S. love the mole in a balaclava.

  12. Author

    Well, personal experiences are bound to differ, but on the few occasions that I venture out, I am impressed as to how locals actually keep to the rules. In the past few months I don’t think I have seen anybody without a face mask, and behaviour in supermarkets is beyond criticism. I don’t venture into tourist areas, by the way. Frankly, I am tired of attempts at analysis of where the cases are and whether tourists contribute to the figures or not. Most people on the island live in the north, so it’s hardly surprising that most of the cases are there. So what? Allowing tourists from a country of high risk is not going to improve the situation and might well make it worse, so why encourage people to travel around when that will inevitably increase the probability of increased cases? Responsible tourists might be indignant about proportioning blame, but the reality is that the virus is spread by people moving around, and people moving around, especially those from abroad, are NOT behaving responsibly. Quite honestly, somebody visiting Tenerife 5/6 times per year during a pandemic should seriously consider thinking about other people for once, not themselves.

  13. Well said Mencey. Fewer people, fewer contacts, fewer infections. As the saying goes ‘it’s not rocket science’.

  14. And we now know this ban will apply until 5th Jan 2021, including these islands. So this time Toress is forced to toe the line.

  15. Just had an email from Ryanair today to say my return flight from Tenerife to Leeds on 16th Jan is cancelled. No mention of my flight out booked for 2nd Jan.

  16. 2nd Jan? Unless you are a Spanish citizen and/or resident your banned so won’t be coming.

  17. Any tourist coming to the island had to have a valid pcr test. I therefore don’t understand all the angst against tourists? The virus in the south of England has mutated; so it will most likely do that in Tenerife if it hasn’t done so already. We will be back as visitors when there’s the all clear and no bickering as to whether we should be there or not. Chill out and enjoy the lovely weather you have whilst I grit my teeth and say “Lucky beggars”. Joyeux Noel et Bonne Annee.

  18. This all makes sense, and no doubt SOME tourists from the UK due to them not wishing to comply to rules here. But so too are some of the bars and restaurants who didn’t follow the rules and allowed people to break rules etc.
    The biggest problem however is what is happening in the North.
    On a recent visit to Santa Cruz, I visited several large stores including amongst others IKEA, Leroy Merlin…. The controls etc in the stores are a total joke. Particularly in the case of Leroy Merlin, it was so busy, and the way they have the shop set up meant it was impossible to keep a safe distance. I frequently visit Leroy Merlin and it was the busiest I have ever seen it, yet they are supposed to be restricted in numbers.
    Yet these and similar large companies are still open and continue to trade. If the Police cared to visit them they would get a small fortune for the rule-breaking. Whilst small bars and restaurants who can easily control there customers are the ones that get fined and are being closed down or restricted to the point they cant make a living.
    I almost laughed when I here the President painting the picture “that its not just two regions”…….I don’t think the penny has dropped that a lot of people from the south and other areas are going to these same stores, mixing with those from the North and then most likely taking the virus back with them back south.
    But hey, lets help the small stores and businesses suffer and let the big boys just do what they want.

  19. Close the motorways between the north and south of the island to all but essential journeys. It would be relatively easy to Police and would give them something to do as let’s face it the Police have been notable by their absence during the Christmas period.

    The south has seen very few cases and ex pats/locals are well behaved as far as I have seen.

    Anyone who wants to go shopping in the north from the south should seriously be asking themselves whether that journey is really necessary.

  20. Whilst the absolute number might be low, active cases in Santiago del Teide ayuntamiento have risen 400% over the past 3+ weeks. I think the same is true in neighbouring districts. I’ve heard others here suggesting that all the issues are in the north of the island but I don’t subscribe to the view

  21. We are flying out on the 16th january and as I and my husband booked this a year ago and we have both have to be negative before we fly out I cant see a problem .We are staying in the south and just want to sit in the sun as we are oap and arthritic so the sun does help .

  22. Author

    And you may yet be able to. The current ban on UK arrivals who are neither residents nor Spanish nationals lasts until 5 January. After that, we will need to wait and see. As the FCDO says, travel bookings are currently subject to disruption.

  23. Ruby. 16 January – I know that’s a couple of weeks away but we’re currently enjoying some much needed and very welcome rain – even here in the south (very heavy at times) and it’s not particularly warm! Perhaps in two weeks time it will be normal service resumed in the weather department but this current ‘interlude’ is a perfect reason for me not going anywhere, doing anything and avoiding people – call it ‘social distancing’ rather than ‘anti social’!!

  24. The cases in the south have indeed been rising rapidly and saying they aren’t is a bit much, and simply untrue. None of us can afford to become complacent. Also, I don’t know where you have been but I can also assure you that, until these latest restrictions were put in place, there were many people not complying with the rules, particularly with the capacities inside and outside bars, mainly expats too. Thankfully, as inside areas are now closed off, non compliance is easier to spot by the authorities and maybe people have realised this. Plus, closing at 10pm seems to be having a big impact too. At long last, the south is finally getting the message that it is NOT just “in the north”.

  25. Given the new mutation (initially reported in the UK) and it’s prevalence throught the country, it would be irresponsible for the authorities here to lift this ban on 5th January. It should remain in place indefinately in order to protect us.

  26. Hi Janet
    Do you think we will be allowed back after Jan 5 th ( with a negative test of course). We are waiting to see the Notary and have already missed one appointment!
    Thank you

  27. Author

    I don’t know Heather, no-one does. We simply must wait for the official announcements because even if we did have a good idea now, the evolution of the outbreak could change over the next few hours, let alone several days. And now there is at least one super-spreading variant here (the “UK one” as it’s being called to distinguish it from the “Japanese one” or the “South-African one” which so far don’t seem to have been found in Spain) there is no way of telling what Spain will do.

  28. Is it known when the ban on UK visitors to the Canaries will be reviewed? I am a ‘swallow’ due to return to Tenerife on Jan 6 after a Christmas visit to the UK and it would be helpful to know when to check if I’ll be allowed back. Your site has been an invaluable help during this crisis. Thank you.

  29. Author

    The actual decree (to which there is a link in the post) says “se considera oportuno extenderla durante 14 días, periodo que podrá prolongarse si es necesario en función de la evolución de la situación y de la pandemia y de las decisiones que puedan adoptarse de forma coordinada en la Unión Europea.” i.e. the ban lasts 14 days and could be extended depending on the evolution of the situation and decisions adopted by the EU as a coordinated response. So there is no fixed date for a review.

  30. Subject to the above restriction (and any exit restrictions eg from tier 4 in the UK), has there been any clarification regarding the ability of property-owning swallows to enter Tenerife? I don’t know whether Julia is one of these but I am and would be very grateful for an update.

  31. Author

    Hard to clarify something that’s already crystal clear. Only legal residents can enter – which swallows are not, by their own choice. Ownership of property is a complete irrelevance in this respect despite the frequent conviction by owners that their status is different in some way.

  32. I’ve just had confirmation from my gestor that my 2019 taxes have been paid via submission of Modelo 210. The tax authorities assume (incorrectly) that I have been renting my property out (illegally) as a non resident and I have a tax levied on the assumed rental income. I have been paying this bogus tax for many years along with all the other taxes relating to property ownership. As I am currently unable to visit my property, I am looking forward to the rebate that I and the many thousands of non resident property owners will be getting. 😂

    There are tens of thousands of non resident property owners in Tenerife, there are over 100 in my complex alone. We all made significant investments in Tenerife in good faith and have made substantial contributions to the economy of Tenerife over the years.

    I would hope that my status as a non resident property owner would in some way be accorded some recognition.

  33. Author

    It is, snowy, it’s just that it doesn’t make someone a resident …

  34. Must say I have sympathy with Snowbirds predicament.
    I am in the same position. It doesn’t seem fair that all the taxes ,community charges, car tax etc are based on 1 year use yet we can only access for 6 months!
    Must check out this residency situation more thoroughly!!!

  35. Spanish Government extend ban on UK tourism to 19 January today according to FO website
    Not really surprised due to large amount of UK in Tier 4 but just hard on those in areas like ours that have worked hard to stay in a lower tier, for example we are 135 out of 146 local authorities for Covid cases per day where 1 is the worst!

  36. Author

    You could only access for six months anyway! This is precisely because swallows want UK tax residence which requires that! The ONLY difference now is that this must be in two blocks of three months at most rather than just under six months in one go.

  37. I really do not understand the logic of believing taxes should be waived if owners cannot access their apartments. The property is on Spanish soil and subject to taxes regardless of whether it is being used or not – as it would be in the UK for second home owners (even community charge relief is not readily available from local authorities in the UK now).
    As for community fees – what would happen to the buildings and maintenance if they were not paid by owners who could not access their properties – what about the people who can, or indeed who actually live here and expect services to be maintained.

  38. No Phillip I made a tongue in cheek comment that as my imaginary illegal renters cannot visit my property, I eagerly await my refund of the bogus tax on my imaginary rental income.

  39. Unfortunately ‘deemed rental tax’ is not seen as bogus by the Spanish Tax office and has to be paid. There are many taxes that may seem unfair but that’s just how it is!

  40. Snowbird the tax you refer to is not a letting tax but a wealth tax applicable to all who own more than one property. It is taxed to all including Spanish citizens and those like me who are fiscally resident and pay the tax along with my yearly tax return. It is a widely misunderstood tax. I think it is based on the fiscal value of your second property set by the Ajuntamiento and a multiplier.

  41. Author

    Janet has explained it HERE, but I’m sure that Snowbird is fully aware anyway

  42. Thank you Bill and Mencey. I think that what Janet has written, as usual, is absolutely correct.
    Anyway I unfortunately do not own more than one property in Spain in any case, or perhaps I should say fortunately.
    Also I fully understand Phillip that you have to pay the taxes levied by the Spanish state. However in my opinion it is completely disingenuous of one part of the Government to fine those living in residential complexes if they were caught renting out, as was happening a few years ago, as such activities are deemed illegal, whereas another part of the same Government at the same time assumes that people in residential complexes do actually illegally rent out and the Government charges an income tax on the notional rental income.
    I do apologise if my tongue in cheek comment caused some concern 😀

  43. Author

    To reply for myself to Bill, I’m afraid that is completely wrong, in all respects. It is not a wealth tax. A wealth tax is imposed in addition but is only for multi-millionaires so I presume that most of us don’t much need to worry about it. Moreover, deemed notional rental income doesn’t care how many properties one owns: it’s imposed even if an owner only has one! Also, it is not taxed on all including Spanish citizens and the fiscally resident: it is a NON-RESIDENT tax, so it is imposed only on non-residents! It is a deemed rental income tax imposed on those who do not submit annual residents’ income tax returns in which they can declare any rental income. (Non-residents should also declare any legitimate rental income and the liability for those periods is not subject to the notional rental income tax).

  44. Unfortunately the rate of tax is going to increase because British people are not part of the EU.

  45. It is possible to rent legally in a residential complex as Janet’s links in may posts on illegal letting explain. It is not legal to let touristically in a residential complex.
    With regard to tax, it is very likely that taxes to non residents will increase as a result of the UK leaving the EU.

  46. Does the new rate of 24% apply to this years payment due by the 31st Dec 2021 as the tax works a year behind.

  47. Author

    Since the tax year is a calendar year it’s at least clear that we’re talking about a particular year. Beyond that, it depends on the Withdrawal Agreement’s view of tax. Is the UK considered a third-country for this purpose from the date of leaving the EU (31.1.20) or the end of the Transition Period (31.12.20). If the former, then the rate will apply for tax due for 11 months of last year; if the latter then the rate will apply only from 1 January this year and so not be payable until next year. I do not know, and as you know, I don’t answer tax questions. That’s my analysis of the situation but the answer needs to come from a professional.

  48. I think this has now become overkill Phillip. As Mencey said earlier I am aware of the taxation regime in Spain and the letting regulations.

  49. Author

    And if we can leave this post now anyway to points or questions relating to the denial of boarding to those with Registros … 😉

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