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Which Covid tests do I need to visit Spain?

There was a collective sigh of relief on 4 August, after it transpired that Spain would remain on the amber list for travel in the government’s latest traffic light reshuffle.

Fears had been stoked that the country might join France in the special “amber plus” category, necessitating returning travellers to quarantine on entering the UK, even if fully vaccinated.

However, the latest update saw the Department for Transport ditch the amber plus label altogether, in addition to the “amber watchlist” – an idea that was briefly floated but soon scrapped following a backlash from ministers.

However, the latest travel review, whose changes take effect from 4am on Sunday 8 August, included specific advice for passengers from Spain regarding testing.

So which Covid tests do you need to visit Spain? Here’s everything you need to know.

Which Covid tests do I need to visit Spain if I’m unvaccinated?

On the outbound journey, it’s up to Spain to determine which tests they need from travellers.

They currently request that travellers from the UK who are not fully vaccinated at least 14 days prior to entry must have taken a Covid test within 72 hours before arrival in Spain and tested negative.

The test must be a nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT): eg PCR, TMA, LAMP or NEAR.

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

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

Which Covid tests do I need to visit Spain if I’m vaccinated?

Travellers from the UK who are fully vaccinated need not get tested prior to entering Spain.

You must present proof of being fully vaccinated at least 14 days prior to arrival in Spain, with a vaccine authorised by the European Medicines Agency or by the World Health Organisation. Astra-Zeneca, Pfizer and Moderna are all accepted.

Spain will accept the NHS Covid Pass, either digital or in the form of a physical letter. You should check that the name on your passport matches how it is displayed by the NHS Covid Pass at least two weeks before you travel. If the names are different, contact your GP practice to have your details updated.

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.

Which Covid tests do I need to return to the UK?

All travellers returning to the UK from abroad must present a negative test, which can be a lateral flow (which tends to be cheaper and quicker than a PCR) before they can depart.

However, in the latest government travel update, they included the following Spain-specific advisory: “Arrivals from Spain, and all its islands are advised to use a PCR test as their pre-departure test wherever possible, as a precaution against the increased prevalence of the virus and variants in the country. UK clinicians and scientists will remain in close contact with their counterparts in Spain to keep abreast of the latest data and picture of cases in Spain.”

However, taking a pre-departure PCR test is currently “advised” rather than a legal requirement.

Which Covid tests do I need after arriving in the UK?

This will depend on your vaccination status.

Spain is an amber list country, which means adults who’ve been fully vaccinated in the UK, US or EU at least 14 days prior and accompanying under 18s can forgo quarantine when they enter the UK.

Instead they must follow green list rules, taking one PCR test within two days of arrival.

Adults who’ve not been double jabbed must follow the original amber list rules: quarantine at home for 10 days on arrival, and pre-book a set of two PCR tests to be taken on day two and day eight. Those in England may pay for a further test on day five which, if negative, allows them to leave self-isolation early.

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