Can you travel from the UK to Spain?

by Lorraine Williamson
travel from the UK to Spain

Spain has opened its doors to travellers outside the EU which includes travel from the UK. But does that mean you can visit for a holiday?

According to Wednesday´s Prime Minister´s question time, Boris Johnson advised amber listed countries were not places to go on holiday. But only to travel to for necessary reasons such as employment, funerals, or illness of a family member.

This was later reiterated by UK government Education Minister, Gillian Keegan, during an interview with Sky News.

Away from legislation and towards guidance

However, on the same day at Westminster, while under pressure from opposition leader, Keir Starmer, Johnson said “the government is trying to move away from endlessly legislating on everything and to rely more on guidance”. And then in the same breath, continued, “you should not be going to an amber list country on holiday.”

Starmer continued to question Johnson as to why it was possible for over 150 flights per day to be leaving the UK for “amber” list countries such as Spain. When Johnson was unable to give an answer to this and to why travel agencies are reporting a massive increase in holiday bookings to Spain, Starmer reiterated that the government´s stance was still “confused and contradictory”.

Review of green list for travel from the UK

The UK Government is expected to review its green list at the beginning of June. This would be the earliest opportunity to allow quarantine-free travel to Spain for British holidaymakers.

In the meantime, the official UK government website states “to prevent new COVID variants from entering the UK, you should not travel to amber or red list countries”. Spain and the island groups are currently on the amber list. Furthermore, if you do visit Spain, there are a number of restrictions still in place that should be respected.

Restrictions in Spain

The measures that currently apply in Spain to reduce the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19) are as follows. In all public spaces, both indoors and outdoors, the rule is to keep 1.5 metres distance. Wearing masks in public areas (indoors and outdoors) is also mandatory in Spain.

However, there are a few exceptions for wearing a face mask. These apply to people with a medical indication or breathing problems, disabilities or behavioural problems. The exception also applies during outdoor sports, or for activities that are not accompanied by wearing a mouth mask. For example, eating or drinking in a restaurant or swimming.

In addition, regional authorities are taking additional measures about local entry and exit bans, the maximum group size on terraces and indoors, the opening hours of shops and catering, etc. These measures differ per region. Read more about the national and regional measures.

Currently, there are some test requirements for entering Spain dependent on whether you have received your vaccinations or not. These also vary between mainland Spain and the island groups. It is therefore advisable to check this in advance of booking.

From May 24, there will be no Covid-19 test requirements for entering Spain. Therefore UK residents can enter Spain for whatever reason, and stay without a visa for up to 90 days. You do not need a PCR test as long as you have been in the UK for the previous 14 days. However you are still required to fill in the Health Control form.

Requirements on and before your return home

It is also necessary for you to check the UK government website regarding restrictions and requirements for your return home from an “amber” listed country. The goverment websites states the following advice. It also advises that you must follow these rules even if you have been vaccinated. The rules may differ slightly between England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

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Before you return to England you must:

On arrival in England you must:

  • quarantine at home or in the place you are staying for 10 days
  • take a COVID-19 test on or before day 2 and on or after day 8

Children aged 4 and under do not need to take the day 2 or day 8 test.

You may be able to end quarantine early if you pay for a private COVID-19 test through the Test to Release scheme.

Travellers arriving in Wales from Spain

If you are arriving in Wales and have visited Spain at any time in the 10 days before returning to Wales according to the official goverment website:

  • You will need to provide your journey and contact details by completing a passenger locator form.
    (This can be done electronically prior to arriving in Wales and you may be requested to present these details at your point of arrival.)
  • You must have proof of a negative coronavirus (COVID-19) test for all travellers aged 11 or above, taken no more than 72 hours before departure (Pre Departure Test – PDT)
  • Pre-book a testing package for all travellers aged 5 and above for COVID-19 testing at Day 2 and Day 8 following your arrival
  • You will need to  isolate for up to 10 days .

How long must you isolate for on you return to Wales?

If you arrive in Wales directly from Spain or another amber list country or territory, you are required to isolate for a period of 10 days on arrival in back in Wales. The isolation period starts on the day after you last left the amber country or territory and ends at 23:59 on the 10th day from that date. 

Negative tests do not avoid or reduce the period of isolation as it is also a requirement to have a negative test within 72 hours prior to departure. 

There is no Test To Release Scheme in Wales so negative tests taken in England do not avoid or reduce the period of isolation required in Wales.

Returning to Scotland

The official advice from Scotland is as follows: You should think carefully before booking travel to an amber list country for holidays or any other leisure purpose. Travelling abroad carries a risk of bringing new cases and variants of COVID-19 into Scotland.

If you’ve been in Spain or another an amber list country in the 10 days before travelling back to Scotland, you must:

On arrival in Scotland you must:

  • isolate at home or in the place you are staying for 10 days 
  • take a COVID-19 test – on or before day 2 and on or after day 8 of your 10 day isolation

The advice from Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland advises you should avoid travelling as much as possible in light of the continuing Coronavirus (COVID-19) threat. However, if you have a permitted reason to travel, the requirements for your return home are as follows:

  • you must  self-isolate  for 10 days at home if travelling from an amber country. (the day of arrival will be treated as day zero)
  • you must book a day two and eight test kit

Test packages can be booked through the NHS at this link:

Alternatively, you can book a private test through an approved test provider that posts the test kit to Northern Ireland. You can find the list of approved private providers at this link:

Private tests from providers not on the approved list do not comply with the regulations. If you choose to book tests with a provider that is not approved, you may receive a fixed penalty notice for failing to comply with the testing requirements.

Anyone not complying with the regulations may be refused boarding by the airline or carrier and/ or fined on arrival. According to Prime Minister´s question time on Wednesday, Boris Johnson confirmed that people who break the quarantine requirement may face substantial fines of up to £10,000.

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