PCR test needed to enter Spain by air or sea from a high risk country

KEY POINTS:

  • tests required from and including 23 November for all arrivals from countries at high risk: these are in list form HERE with the site kept updated by the Government, and they should also shows as red on the map HERE
  • test required for ALL HUMANS regardless of whether they are children (even the youngest), geriatrics, owners, tenants, residents, swallows, pay their taxes, what papers they have … if you’re human, you must bring a test or can’t come
  • tests must be PCR and only PCR no other test is accepted
  • certificate must be original paper or digital version, in English or Spanish, and show the following details (see law HERE):
    • name of passenger
    • passport number (or DNI for Spanish nationals returning to the country) matching that of document used for border control
    • date test was physically carried out 
    • ID and details of the lab where it was analysed
    • confirmation that test was a PCR type
    • negative result 
  • tests must be physically carried out no more than 72 hours before arrival at your destination’s port or airport, so factor in time to get results and any possible flight delays 
      • being unable to get a test under these conditions does not mean that there might be “a way around it”: it means you cannot come. If the timing is “impossible” it means it is not possible, literally 
      • if you are using Canarian regulated tourist accommodation you will also need a test result for that: you can use the same one but it must have been physically carried out no more than 72 hours before you check into the accommodation so also factor in time to get to your accommodation and check in.  See HERE
      • if anyone arrives without a test or with inadequately compliant paperwork, they will be given a free PCR test at the airport BUT a fine will be imposed – see points 17 – 20 on THIS advice for foreign travellers from the Spanish Government. Paperwork breaches are likely to be deemed “serious”, and according to the relevant public health legislation that determines the level of fines (HERE), these will range from €3,000 to €60,000; if the offence should be deemed “very serious” for some reason the fines range from €60,000 to €600,000
  • tests required for entry through Spain’s ports and airports, not roads or railways
  • tests not required for travel within Spain itself – NB: Canaries are part of Spain 

Updated 26 November: The list I posted yesterday is not a list of centres that MUST be used, with no other centres allowed. It is just a list of those that CAN be used if people can’t find one! Clearly, needing “clarity” about the already perfectly clear, or seeing “utter confusion” wherever one looks, has become a national hobby or psychosis in the UK, but the list produced by the Canarian Government is a list of any centres that produce official certificates and which can be used but do not have to be used.

People have been saying they can’t find centres to produce the requisite certs – within 72 hours, with passport numbers on, or that would test very small children – and they are also complaining, absolutely bitterly, that the British Government is not helping in the least. The Canarian Government has tried to assist by producing this list. They, like I, are probably wishing they had never bothered.

Updated 25 November: I don’t know what’s available in terms of info in the UK but the questions I get suggest that it’s not widely known where tests can be done to provide access to Spain. Now, the Canarian Government’s tourism Department has produced THIS list of centres authorized to carry out the test required for entry to this country. There are similar lists of centres authorized in other countries – please see HERE.

Updated 23 November: The requirement has now come into force today, and as things stand right now, the EU countries whose nationals will need a test to enter Spain are listed HERE. From 30 November, the countries whose nationals will need a test are listed HERE – this is subject to review on 29 November. That later list will itself be reviewed on 13 December. For now, therefore, for simplicity and the majority of readers, the list applies to the UK and Ireland. Ireland is not on the list that applies from 30 November but it could be reviewed in the meantime of course. The UK is on both lists. I’ll update the list situation again on the 29/30th.

Updated 21 November: The new requirement of PCR tests for everyone from a high risk country entering Spain through a port or airport comes into force this Monday 23 November, the law is HERE. The requirement applies on and from Monday, applies to all arrivals, including children, regardless of their residence status, what documents they have, what taxes they pay, and whether they own property or not. All humans from high risk countries coming to Spain by plane or boat must bring a test certificate, original paper or digital version, in English or Spanish, showing the following :

    • name of passenger
    • passport number (or DNI for Spanish nationals) matching that of document used for border control
    • date test was done
    • ID and details of the lab where it was analysed
    • confirmation that test was a PCR type
    • negative result

The test must show that it was done no more than 72 hours before presentation at the border. People complain that getting a test done and arriving within 72 hours is difficult, and that certificates don’t show passport numbers: yes it is difficult, it’s meant to be, and had British nationals not been so opposed to ID cards there might yet have been a system for recording numbers, but there isn’t because it was felt to go against “British freedom”. We are not talking about Spain trying to protect itself (and us) from verrucas but a currently untreatable virus that kills some and leaves others with long-term conditions. Even those who recover are increasingly recognized as being susceptible to long-term debilitating effects.

Updated 17 November: Just a reminder that all the questions you are asking about – which type of test, travel within Spain itself, timings – are answered in this post. I have written the information once, answered umpteem questions about it constantly over days, infuriated regular readers with the site becoming overwhelmed with the issue of coming to Tenerife rather than being in Tenerife, and so I will simply continue deleting emails, Facebook and twitter messages, comments on this post (now closed to comments), comments on any other page/the first page visited asking about information which is here in this post where it has been since 11 November.

This information remains in place today as it did when it was posted so please read it if you are “confused”, just want “clarification”, or “reassurance” … the disbefuddlement, clear information and reassurance is in the information below and even though I am now on 1,024 deleted messages in the last four days, it has not changed since I posted it, and has been here all the while to be read.

If you are wondering whether you need a test because the Canaries are not in Spain, I can clarify your confusion and reassure you that they are in fact in Spain, so coming from the mainland to the Canaries does not take you out of the country. Therefore you don’t “enter” the country because you’re already in it. There is a fuller explanation for anyone who might be interested HERE.

Finally, when I say that the test required is specifically PCR (RT-PCR de COVID-19) I actually mean that the test required is specifically a PCR test. So no, a quick antigen test or any other informal non-PCR test will not be accepted. That is what “specifically PCR” means.

Thank you.

Updated 13 November: The same questions are being asked again and again. So …

  • as posted in yesterday’s update, the test required is specifically PCR (RT-PCR de COVID-19). Diagnostic tests such as rapid antibody tests, rapid test for high performance antigen or serologies (ELISA, CLIA, ECLIA) won’t be accepted
  • the test must be CARRIED OUT 72 hours before arrival IN SPAIN (port or airport) – in other words, when you arrive the test certificate must show that the test itself was done no more than 72 hours previously.
  • it doesn’t matter if you’re coming from Scotland, or Wales, or Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands. This test has nothing to do with the UK or any part of it or its dependencies. The test is a Spanish requirement and so is for ANYONE ENTERING SPAIN wherever they come from if it is deemed at high risk
  • the test is required for all arrivals and so It DOES NOT MATTER if you are an owner, whether you have a TIE, a NIE, a Registro, an Empadronamiento, or whether you pay your taxes, are a returning resident, a swallow … . If you are arriving in Spain you are one of “all arrivals”
  • the test is required specifically on arrival at a Spanish PORT OR AIRPORT and does not apply to crossing the border in another way, whether by bus, train, car, on foot or on broomstick
  • certificates must be original if in paper form but those supplied by email could be deemed “copies” or not “originals”, so my advice would be to save such certs to a phone because they can be in digital form
  •  the test is required for all arrivals IN SPAIN. If you are travelling WITHIN Spain, unless magically endowed, you are NOT ENTERING the country … and if you are not entering the country a test is not required because you’re already in the country. And to be clear, the Canaries are PART OF SPAIN so going from here or Gran Canaria or any other island to the mainland is WITHIN SPAIN … and the same applies if coming from Spain to the Canaries
  • unlike the Canarian test requirement for regulated tourist accommodation which doesn’t apply to children under the age of 7, the Spanish entry test requirement does not allow for exceptions and covers everyone including children
  • If you are finding it difficult to get a test and then get here within 72 hours then you have a problem. Yes Christmas complicates things … so does the virus. Your difficulty does NOT mean that the law does not apply. This is by the nature of legislation. It applies and you comply with it. It’s like seatbelts, drunk driving, burglary, murder … you aren’t allowed to do it however hard it might be at times. It is very very simple: bring a negative PCR result or stay where you are or go elsewhere but do not come to Spain because they will not let you in the country
  • If you are in international transit through Spain you will not be required to present a test at your airport or port of transit (because you won’t be leaving it at that point and so effectively remain in international air/sea space: you “enter Spain” when you arrive at the port or airport of your final destination)
  • the test is for ENTERING SPAIN not leaving it
  • from 23 November means starting from – so INCLUDES 23 November – and so does not apply BEFORE that date
  • and to repeat, the test is needed for all international arrivals from countries deemed at high risk (red areas) according to the EU’s traffic light system map HERE

Updated 12 Novmber: HERE is the BOE where the new measures have now been published.

A few points about questions I’ve been asked that I can now answer:

  • this applies only to sea and air entries, so anyone driving into Spain won’t be affected
  • third-nation states are listed at the end of the published resolution; Spain will revise the list fortnightly and publish the countries on its websites HERE and HERE. The UK, however, although included now in the third-nation states list, will show on the traffic light map HERE so there’s an easy check for British visitors
  • there are no exceptions nor age limits so children are not exempt from the rule that all passengers must be tested
  • the certificate showing the negative result can be in digital or paper form, and can be in English or Spanish, but if in paper form, it must be the original certificate, not a copy
  • diagnostic tests such as rapid antibody tests, rapid test for high performance antigen or serologies (ELISA, CLIA, ECLIA) won’t be accepted. The test required is specifically PCR (RT-PCR de COVID-19)

Original post 11 November: The Spanish Health Department has announced this afternoon that from 23 November, all international arrivals (tourists, residents, swallows, whatever) from countries deemed at high risk according to the EU’s traffic light system will have to present a negative PCR test taken no more than 72 hours previously.

Sanidad says that the measure will add to the controls in place currently at airports such as temperature and visual checks. The new measure will mean that travel agencies, tour operators, air and sea transport companies and any other agent selling tickets must now provide information to anyone booking with them. The legislation will be published in the BOE tomorrow, and is in line with EU Recommendation 2020/1475, which aims to close the gap between the health monitoring models implemented by EU countries.

As far as the Canary Islands are concerned, this national Spanish measure operates over and above the regional one requiring tests on arrival at accommodation or, for those who didn’t bring a certificate of test results with them, of having a test here after they arrive. As can be seen from the traffic light map HERE, the United Kingdom is currently deemed as a high risk country of origin, and if this is the case from 23 November, anyone who is able to leave the UK will be required to bring one to enter the country: the map is updated weekly so will need to be checked before travel. Whether or not the UK is red on the EU map, those booking into regulated tourist accommodation here from 14 November will still have to present a test certificate to be allowed access to their accommodation and download the track and trace app.

The passenger location form, which everyone already has to provide before entering the country, will now include a request for confirmation that a test has been taken, with the certificate being able to be requested at any time – certificates can be in digital or paper form, and in English or Spanish.

The new measure will no doubt come as a complete relief to many who saw a wave of tourists intending to be tested here despite the regional Government saying that option should be the exception so as not to overwhelm the regional health system. For his own part, Canarian President Ángel Torres said that he was absolutely delighted with the news, that it coincided with requests that have been made by the Canarian Government for months.

44 Comments

  1. Janet, I can’t believe some of these questions you receive on the PCR problem – is there no common sense around these days! There again there are no tests for ‘common sense’. You can get PCR tests on-line by the way – why don’t they all do their own research on the subject? I have seen them advertised -in UK – for 100 pound so worth looking at ?
    I am a ‘Golden Oldie’ with compromised health and do not want numerous tourists flocking here with Covid, who have little regard for those of us who live here, who have lived by the rules.
    Why do they all think that holidays are so vital at the time of a major pandemic? Myself and my hubby have never holidayed for some time – you get used to it!!

  2. I think I know the answer but can you please confirm that if I’m travelling from another part of Spain to the Canary Islands after 23rd November, I won’t need to provide a negative covid test on arrival at the Airport?
    Many thanks

  3. Author

    yes I can confirm, have done so above in the last of the Key Points at the top.

  4. Can I confirm my 16 week old baby would require a negative test to fly from the UK to lanzarote? Thank you

  5. Author

    “Everybody” actually means everybody, so yes, a baby is included.

  6. Penelope. Whilst I entirely understand and accept the PCR requirement, I nevertheless do sympathise with travellers. Flying for many is strssful at the best of times. Online/postal PCRs are indeed available. However, imagine your flight was booked many months ago for a Wednesday arriving midday in Tenerife. This means that you can’t take your swab until after midday on a Sunday. But then, Royal Mail aren”t going to empty the Royal Mail priority box until sometime on Monday. If everything works to plan, the lab should get the sample on Tuesday morning. Fingers crossed they analyse it immediately and send you your results in time for you to complete your Passenger Locator (FCS) Form before boarding your flight on Wednesday morning. But if there is any hitch along the way…. There are ways round this: moving your flight, finding a lab where you can drop your sample off in person (few and far betwen), finding a courier who collects on Sundays… I write this, not because I don’t agree with the PCR requirement, but to help explain the current anxieties. If in due course a rapid antigen test is accepted, this will help.

  7. Author

    I suppose this is the result of taking the risk of booking a holiday in the middle of a global pandemic. Unfortunate, but hardly unsurprising.

  8. You are right Mencey. But mine is not a holiday and many of us booked our flights/holidays back in the summer when travel was “easy”. I need to get there by Dec 31 for residency reasons!

    What to do if my partner and I get our negative results back the night before flying but our 18 month old son’s test comes back inconclusive? No time to react! = stress!!! (the latter is a rhetorical question) 🙂

  9. Author

    It’s still travel booked during a pandemic. It seems it’s time we started to realise the world has changed and our old certainties are no longer secure.

  10. just for info a number of places in the uk who do covid tests will NOT test under 2 ,major stress trying to find 1 that does this wwhc is the only 1 i have found .test required for my family to return back home to tenerife

  11. Simple answer is don’t book, don’t travel, avoid all of that unnecessary stress and (best bit) reduce the risk of spreading this virus.

  12. Author

    Many of the latest comments above had been put on the Canarian covid test law post when they are actually about the PCR border test law. I’ve moved them all and I’ll close the covid test law post to comments until there’s any reason to open it. That law remains in place for all booking into tourist accommodation.

  13. Penelope, the thing is there are 1000s of other people in the island economy who depend for their livelihoods on tourists “flocking here” for holidays. And Malcolm is right that when you do some research, you realise that the on-line tests are not really an option because of the 72 hour window and the only option is to pay north of £200 for a 24 or 48 hr test, and factoring in the bank holidays at Xmas and NY will mean that, practically, some departure dates will have to be changed.

    Just a word though , Malcolm, on the 72 hour requirement. The requirement in Spanish law is that the test certificate include the date of the test, not a time stamp. So, on your example, a midday Sunday test should, as a matter of practice, be good for an arrival after midday on Wednesday.

    Also, bear in mind the law clearly says this:

    – the airline’s responsibility is limited to checking your have a certificate, not the information therein;

    – if for any reason at the border your certificate is held to be not adequate, you must then to submit to a PCR test, and the law doesn’t say you are banned from entry.

    So as long as you have certificate certifying a test taken no more than 3 calendar days prior, chances are very strong that all will be OK in the end, one way or another.

  14. Author

    As AENA – the airports authoritiy – says explicitly:

    “A partir del 23 de noviembre todo pasajero procedente de un país o zona de riesgo deberá disponer de una PCR negativa realizada en las 72 horas previas a su llegada a España. Incumplir esta norma conlleva sanciones.”

    Bring a test or face a fine. This is confirmed by poinst 17 to 20 on THIS advice for foreign travellers from the Spanish Government. The law places fines for breaches, not just for non-existent evidence but for inadequate evidence (ie a certificate without the full information required), within the framework of general public health legislation and that defines breaches of public health emergency legislation as “serious” – fines ranging from €3,000 to €60,000 or “very serious” – €60,000 to €600,000. Yes they will test anyone who arrives without a test or whose documentation is not fully compliant. And yes the test will be free. What won’t be free though is the fine and a fine will be imposed.

    My advice to everyone is bring a test and stop looking for ways to get away with not complying fully with the requirement or reassure that it won’t be enforced fully or that everything will be OK even if you don’t comply absolutely. Moreover, such visitors will find that their non-compliance with emergency health measures will void the AXA policy which requires everything to be fully legal and compliant.

  15. Can I just ask if a nhs pcr test is being approved by borer control or is only test we have to pay for privately accepted

  16. Author

    Please see HERE where the UK Government says that “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.”

    This is something the UK will not accept, nothing to do with Spain.

  17. Apart from the moral question of using an NHS test (unless of course there was a legitimate reason to have had an NHS test) the NHS test result would not, I should have thought, include your passport number which is required on the certificate to be presented upon entry to Spain. My understanding is that you even have to stress to some private test providers that they must include your passport number on any certificate they may issue. Also, in relation to Jon’s comment I had thought that the certificate DID REQUIRE the time the test was carried out as well as the date?

  18. Just booked an Express PCR Travel Test with Randox 99 euros. To book a test they require passport details with flight and time so understand the process. Is their email result sufficient if I can show it on my phone.

  19. Author

    Yes, since they accept electronic/digital certificates, as long as it shows all the information required (detailed at the top of the page).

  20. Hi
    Are you aware of the PCN test being reviewed or lifted before 28th December.
    I have had flights booked since January,(pre covid) and returning to UK on 22nd returning 28th.

    Many thanks
    Andy

  21. Author

    Please just read the first of the key points at the very top of the page. As it says, list will be reviewed 29 November. The law, however, says that it is expressly in place until the Government declares the end of the health emergency.

  22. How are they able to verify 72 hours if hours are not a requirement on the certificate? This needs clarification I feel.

  23. Author

    It is three days, so the test cannot predate whichever day is three days before your arrival. It seems they are not checking to the hour but to the day.

  24. My Spanish is not up to par! Does law actually state 3 days or 72 hours?

  25. Author

    72 hours … but that is three days!

  26. Thank you for reply re 72 hours. It makes a MASSIVE difference – I am referring to not just entering Spain but then 72 hours before accomodation and factoring in delays? How can anyone seriously factor in delays? Is the max 72 hours for checking into accomodation rule an addition today or as was previously mentioned before? This is a shambles and not clear. Sadly it will put people off I fear.

  27. Author

    No the accommodation rule has been in place since 14 November, please see HERE. If it’s difficult that is a shame but in a pandemic people’s convenience is not the primary consideration. If people think they cannot comply then they must not come, and that might actually be safest anyway given the pandemic.

  28. Thank you again for reply – I question that point because the UK Gov Entry requirements only states 72 hours prior to entering Spain – it does not make any reference to accomodation.

  29. Author

    I’m afraid you are wrong. It says precisely that HERE from the UK Government itself.

    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

    And in fact what matters – all that matters – is the Canarian law which is HERE. As it says:

    Para acceder a los establecimientos turísticos de alojamiento de Canarias será preciso que los usuarios turísticos mayores de seis años, que no provengan del territorio de la Comunidad Autónoma de Canarias demuestren la realización, en el plazo máximo de las 72 horas previas a su llegada, del test de diagnóstico de infección activa que establezcan las autoridades sanitarias y que acredite que el usuario turístico no ha dado positivo como transmisor de la COVID-19.

  30. Janet – I stand corrected. Apologies.

  31. Fingers crossed Helen it will put people off.

  32. I think after all this information you you alone need a holiday…

  33. Author

    Yes, Janet is quite worn out by the sheer number of people asking daft questions. Constructive questions are always welcome, but the number of people asking questions which have already been answered on the site is quite ridiculous. Often, the question is something answered in or near the title of the post, asked by someone clearly too lazy or unable to read, and expects spoon-fed answers from somebody overwhelmed and working for nothing. This has to stop, it simply cannot continue like this.

  34. Hi.. We are a group of 5 adults and 3 children travelling to fuertaventura on the 19th December for 2 weeks staying in our own villa (not tourist location) from stanstead do we still need this PCR test done and if yes whats our cheapest options

  35. Author

    I have approved the previous comment just to give an example of the kind of question Janet is being expected to answer literally dozens of times per day. She has taken the considerable trouble (hours!) spelling out the rules in a manner which everybody capable of reading can understand. Yet still people come with questions which are answered in the list of key points in her post, indicating that they have not bothered even to start reading what she has written. I hope most people will understand that she is not remotely required to provide spoon-fed answers to questions which, although well meant, are tantamount to abuse. Please read the post, and only pose a question which has not already been answered.

  36. Merry Christmas everyone. Do us all a big favour. don’t look for a way to circumvent the rules, stay at home, don’t travel, save lives.

  37. Mencey – If you do ANYTHING for the general public at large you’re generally leaving yourself open to abuse from that said group (the general public) I don’t know how Janet hasn’t blown a gasket by now! Unfortunately so many people don’t appear to be taught to read/research or even think for themselves any more they need someone to do it for them!

    Ray – I whole heartedly agree with your posting.

  38. Author

    I’m afraid what you say is quite true. The abuse Janet gets is not really visible here, because very often, it is in the form of email to Janet, who then has to wade through piles of stupid questions already answered. I’m afraid these go straight into the bin simply for the sake of her sanity. The problem is that she cannot switch emails off because there are some very sensible emails sent to her with genuine problems which need addressing, which is fine.

    One further issue is that the site is titled “In Tenerife” and intended for the benefit of people actually living in Tenerife. I am baffled as to why people assume she is some kind of travel agent obliged to provide information to those who are wanting to come here on holiday. The fact that airlines are incapable of informing their customers should not result in a burden on somebody trying to help the general public for no financial gain whatsoever.

  39. There is a surprising level of what appears to be laziness in terms of firing off questions rather than reading the information provided. My flight from Glasgow, booked before the pandemic, left yesterday without me on it. Given I would have been committing a criminal offence under Scots Law had I chosen to travel to the airport, I am unsure how many boarded that flight. However in fairness to Jet2, they did send several emails regarding the steps necessary to enter Spain and when checking in to tourist accommodation. That information is also set out on their website – it was actually an email from Jet2 which told me that any COVID test certificate should have the time as well as the date of the test on it, I couldn’t remember where I had picked that up from. It may be too soon for the chap who posed the question to have received an individual email from his airline but I should expect that by now those details would be on his airline’s website. Obviously my experience is limited to one airline. However that doesn’t detract from Mencey’s point that the relevant information was set out clearly on this site and the query didn’t require to be sent.

  40. Thank you very much, Janet, for the list of centres that carry out the tests in the UK. There is not much info about it in the Uk- I only found out about this new requirement to entre Spain last weekend when trying to book flights to go home and see my family over Christmas.- I guess I haven´t been watching Spanish news recently either. I was also finding very difficult to find any reliable site that offered the service for a reasonable price.

    I have found your blog to be extremely helpful to understand this new requirement.

    Again, thank you very much.
    Maria

  41. I take the approved list is for assistance to find a test centre and is not exhaustive. The reason I ask is that Randox is not on the list. They have from today set up test facilities in Dublin Airport and a hotel. They also do the PCR test in Holywood County Down and Antrim (UK). They are a highly respected international lab. Sorry but I have read the links and cannot find the answer.

  42. Author

    Well, there are only two approved centres in NI on this list at the moment, but they do, however, say that the list is being developed as and when they discover more. This is ongoing work by the Canarian Government despite total lack of assistance from the UK. I can only suggest that you wait and see how the list is developed, but is certainly better than no list at all.

  43. Good to see a list but it raises 2 big questions and how was it put together??
    There is a final issue I will mention last so
    1. Will the list be updated every week ?
    Boots are adding more towns all the time
    2. What if you get a test from a reputable provider
    who is not on the list??
    There is plenty of places to get a test near you in the UK and easily found on Google
    ONE big concern
    I checked the price of a supplier who is now on the “list” I checked their price when the Canarias government introduced the requirement a couple of weeks ago
    Tonight on checking the price it has gone up!!

  44. Author

    I think discussion of this topic is outside the remit of an “In Tenerife” site, to be honest. There really is a limit to what we can provide.

Comments are closed.