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What Americans need to know now that Spain will allow travellers in from US

The good news is that Spain has announced that vaccinated travellers from the United States will be able to visit from June 7th.

What Americans need to know now that Spain will allow travellers in from US
Photo: Cooper NEILL / AFP

May 2021 update: On Friday, May 21st Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced at a tourism fair in Madrid that “From June 7th, all vaccinated people and their families will be welcome in our country, Spain, regardless of their country of origin”

This means that Americans (well, the vaccinated ones at least) will be able to travel to Spain for the first time in more than a year. 

He said they will be allowed in “without restriction”, but he did not specify whether they would have to show a negative Covid test.

Spain also announced the launch of its ‘Covid passport’ on Friday May 21st, set to become operational in June, one month ahead of the EU-wide Digital Covid Certificate which it will work in tandem with.

The scheme covers non-EU countries of the border-free Schengen zone – Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. 

It is yet to be confirmed whether either of these schemes will be made available to vaccinated US nationals or if they will have to provide different documentation to enter Spain (stay tuned to this space). But as things stand, the scheme seems primarily reserved for EU nationals and residents and it may be separate from plans to open up the European Union to vaccinated non-EU visitors.

READ MORE: What’s the latest on how the EU’s ‘Covid passports’ will work for travellers?

Spain also announced that British travellers would also be able to return to Spain from May 24th, without the need to show a negative PCR test. 

The United States’ weekly infection rate is at 66 cases per 100,000 inhabitants as of May 21st but the incidence rate has been dropping day by day since April 20th when it was 289 cases per 100,000. 

This is undoubtedly linked to the fact that almost 127 million Americans are now fully vaccinated against Covid-19, which represents 38.6 percent of the population. 

These encouraging figures mean Spain is willing to open its borders to vaccinated American tourists. 

Despite this new development, Spain is still on the United States’ level 4 ‘do not travel’ list, meaning that the US government still advises against travel here. This is only advisory however and tavellers are still allowed to come. 

The CDC has also updated its recommendations, giving travel recommendations for those who have been fully vaccinated. Read here to see what they say. 

In 2019 some 3.3 million US tourists visited Spain, a figure that’s risen by more than a million since 2016 according to the Iberian nation’s National Statistics Institute (INE).

Spain is the fourth most popular EU destination among American tourists after Italy, France and Germany, but those who do come to Spain like it so much that they often return.

READ MORE: How important are American tourists to Spain?

A man watches a Delta plane as it approaches Washington Ronald Reagan National Airport (DCA) in Arlington, Virginia on February 24, 2021. (Photo by Daniel SLIM / AFP)

***Please keep in mind that information in older monthly updates of this article may no longer be valid due to the quickly evolving situation. 

April 2021 : The US State Department announced on April 21st that it has added 116 countries to its “Level Four: Do Not Travel” advisory list, including Spain, citing “a very high level of Covid-19”. 

Earlier in April, American Airlines announced that it had resumed flights from the United States to Spain, specifically the route between Miami (Florida) and Barcelona and Dallas-Fort Worth (Texas) and Madrid.

It is also restoring 10 other routes between the United States and major European cities, suggesting that the US airline is confident enough that travel between the EU and the US will be restored soon enough, however, with this new development of adding Spain to its “do not travel” list, this is still up in the air. 

There have also been reports that the Biden administration may lift the travel ban for citizens wanting to travel to the US from the 27 EU Member States in mid-May, which could increase the chances of a reciprocal agreement. 

Airlines are currently pushing for an air bridge between the UK and the US to begin on May 17th, the date the British government is likely to allow its citizens to travel abroad for holidays again. 

The speed of their vaccination campaigns and the promising inoculation forecasts for the coming months are, together with infection rates, one of the main factors deciding whether travel can reopen between both nations. 

But in Spain’s case, the rules for allowing travellers from the United States are largely dependent on joint agreements with other Member States, and for now Spain uses the EU’s ‘safe list’ (which the US is still not on) to decide the rules for Americans.

In early March, Spanish authorities said they were open to setting up bilateral agreements and safe corridors with non-EU “third countries”, including the US, if no deal is reached regarding travel requirements across the European Union.

The EU did decide to launch a vaccine passport, with the latest estimates according to EU Commissioner Thierry Breton being that it will be ready in June, but Brussels representatives are yet to mention if this will influence its current rules for travellers from the US.

READ MORE: Spain to have vaccine passport system ready by June, tourism minister

In 2019 some 3.3 million US tourists visited Spain, a figure that rose by more than a million since 2016 according to the Iberian nation’s National Statistics Institute (INE).

In the process, they contributed €5.8 billion to Spain’s economy through their Spanish holidays, so Pedro Sánchez’s government will no doubt be considering the benefits reopening to American tourists could have, factoring in both the US’s high infection rate and swift vaccine rollout.

READ ALSO: How is Spain’s vaccine campaign going?

On April 13th, the Washington Post ran an article titled “Americans may be able to travel to Europe again this summer. Their hosts may not be vaccinated”, in which their journalist wrote that EU officials plan to publish a proposal within weeks for lifting restrictions on holidaymakers from outside the bloc. 

“They only have to hash out what the plan will look like,” the US paper states.

“It would not look good if British and American vacationers are better-treated than Europeans” because of vaccination status, one EU source is quoted as saying. 

“We’ll have to see how the pandemic evolves in the US,” says Secretary of State for Global Spain Manuel Muñiz.

“In Spain, the number of people vaccinated per week will quadruple.”

For now however, the rules that have been in place for people wanting to travel from the United States to Spain remain unchanged and are explained below.

March 2021: With many in the US eager to visit Spain as soon as they can, here’s what is happening with the Spanish travel rules for Americans right now.

Under the Spanish government’s regulations, measures covering travel from the US to Spain remain unchanged. Spain’s borders remain closed to those travelling from countries outside the EU, except for a small handful of countries, of which the US is not one of them. Therefore, non-essential travel from the US to Spain is currently not allowed.

Those hoping for a Spanish vacation in 2021 should keep a close eye on the European ‘safe list’. On January 28th the EU updated its list of ‘safe’ countries from which it recommends members allow travellers to enter from. They may have to wait sometime before the US is added to the list, however. 

So what does this mean for Americans?

Firstly, the travel rules are based around where you are coming from, not what passport you hold. So, a US citizen travelling from Italy, for example, would be permitted to enter Spain because it’s within the EU.

Secondly, Spain has so far only mentioned about vaccinated travellers visiting from June 7th and there is no word on those unvaccinated so far. 

This may change when the EU roles out its Covid-19 passports this summer, as this will also have information on whether you’ve previously had the virus or if you’ve got a recent negative PCR test. 

READ ALSO: What’s the latest on how the EU’s ‘Covid passports’ will work for travellers? 

What if I haven’t been vaccinated but I still need to travel to Spain? 

You are still able to travel to Spain if your reason falls under ‘essential travel’. People who can travel into the European bloc now include:

  • Citizens of an EU country
  • Non-EU citizens who are permanent residents of an EU country and need to come home
  • Healthcare workers engaged in crucial work on the coronavirus crisis
  • Frontier workers and in some circumstances seasonal workers
  • Delivery drivers
  • Diplomats, humanitarian or aid workers
  • Passengers in transit
  • Passengers travelling for imperative family reasons
  • Persons in need of international protection or for other humanitarian reasons
  • Third-country nationals travelling for the purpose of study
  • Highly qualified third-country workers, if their employment is essential from an economic perspective and cannot be postponed or performed abroad

Find more details on the exemptions here.

Who else can travel to Spain?

US citizens who are permanent residents of Spain can travel, but they will need to show proof of residency such as a TIE card to be able to enter if they haven’t been vaccinated. 

Before travelling to Spain, all passengers must complete the Health Control Form (FCS) and show the QR code at the Border Health Control at the airport upon arrival in Spain.  The form must be completed for each passenger.  You can find the form here

Will US travellers arriving in Spain have to quarantine?

No, travellers to Spain are not currently subject to a quarantine period. It is still not clear however if they will need to provide a negative PCR test. 

What restrictions can I expect to find in Spain?

Since Spain’s state of alarm ended on May 9th, many of the restrictions that were in place across the country such as travel bans between borders and nightly curfews have now been abolished. There are however still some restrictions in place. 

  • The requirement to wear a mask at all times in public, even outside
  • There may still be some restrictions on restaurant opening hours or even bar and restaurant closures
  • Limited shopping hours and limited capacity or closures at cultural venues and tourist sites

READ ALSO: UPDATED: What are the post state of alarm restrictions in each region in Spain?

Other travel rules

Check carefully with your airline on any extra rules, especially around masks. Some airlines specify that medical-grade masks must be worn and you can be denied boarding if you turn up at the airport without the correct type of mask.

Are there many flights available from the US to Spain?

While they may be limited, there are still direct flights between the US and Spain and more are beginning to operate. After the recent announcement, we believe that many more routes will become available. 


Stay updated

At the time of writing, the US government is recommending that travellers “reconsider travel to Spain due to Covid-19”.

Anyone planning to travel is advised to check the latest updates from the US State Department and Centers for Disease Control, and to find out if they are covered by their travel insurer. Otherwise, and unless you are an Spanish resident registered with the Spanish health authorities, you can incur medical bills if you fall sick while in Spain.

For more information, visit the website of the U.S Embassy & Consulate in Spain and Andorra, which has all the latest updates.

Please note: The Local is not able to advise on specific cases. Contact your embassy for official guidance.

Member comments

  1. How about helping poor people with all that time and resource instead?

    Luke’s 11 and 14 forsake everything, everyone, and yourself 4 Him
    Matthew’s 5-7 work for Me, never for money, and I will give you food and clothing
    Mark’s 16 share the Truth to all
    John’s 17 work together in love
    Do not take the Mark of the Beast; right hand or forehead, only way to buy or sell (not a mask or vaccine, but could be a quantum implant or tattoo thing) Book of Revelation 13 – 14.
    USA maybe the Babylon, to be destroyed with fire in 1 hour Revelation 17 – 18.

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IN IMAGES: Spain’s ‘scrap cathedral’ lives on after creator’s death

For over 60 years, former monk Justo Gallego almost single-handedly built a cathedral out of scrap materials on the outskirts of Madrid. Here is a picture-based ode to his remarkable labour of love.

IN IMAGES: Spain's 'scrap cathedral' lives on after creator's death
File photo taken on August 3, 1999 shows Justo Gallego Martinez, then 73, posing in front of his cathedral. Photo: ERIC CABANIS / AFP

The 96-year-old died over the weekend, but left the unfinished complex in Mejorada del Campo to a charity run by a priest that has vowed to complete his labour of love.

Gallego began the project in 1961 when he was in his mid-30s on land inherited from his family after a bout of tuberculosis forced him to leave an order of Trappist monks.

Today, the “Cathedral of Justo” features a crypt, two cloisters and 12 towers spread over 4,700 square metres (50,600 square feet), although the central dome still does not have a cover.

He used bricks, wood and other material scavenged from old building sites, as well as through donations that began to arrive once the project became better known.

A woman prays at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
A woman prays at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)

The building’s pillars are made from stacked oil drums while windows have been cobbled and glued together from shards of coloured glass.

“Recycling is fashionable now, but he used it 60 years ago when nobody talked about it,” said Juan Carlos Arroyo, an engineer and architect with engineering firm Calter.

Men work at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021 in Mejorada del Campo, 20km east of Madrid.
Men work at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021 in Mejorada del Campo, 20km east of Madrid. Photo: (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)

The charity that is taking over the project, “Messengers of Peace”, hired the firm to assess the structural soundness of the building, which lacks a permit.

No blueprint

“The structure has withstood significant weather events throughout its construction,” Arroyo told AFP, predicting it will only need some “small surgical interventions”.

Renowned British architect Norman Foster visited the site in 2009 — when he came to Spain to collect a prize — telling Gallego that he should be the one getting the award, Arroyo added.

Religious murals on a walls of Justo's cathedral. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
Religious murals on a walls of Justo’s cathedral. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)

The sturdiness of the project is surprising given that Gallego had no formal training as a builder, and he worked without a blueprint.

In interviews, he repeatedly said that the details for the cathedral were “in his head” and “it all comes from above”.

Builders work on the dome of the Cathedral of Justo on November 26th. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
Builders work on the dome of the Cathedral of Justo on November 26th. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)

The complex stands in a street called Avenida Antoni Gaudi, named after the architect behind Barcelona’s iconic Sagrada Familia basilica which has been under construction since 1883.

But unlike the Sagrada Familia, the Cathedral of Justo Gallego as it is known is not recognised by the Roman Catholic Church as a place of worship.

Visit gaze at the stained glass and busts in of the cathedral's completed sections. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
Visit gaze at the stained glass and busts in of the cathedral’s completed sections. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)

‘Worth visiting’

Father Angel Garcia Rodriguez, the maverick priest who heads Messengers of Peace, wants to turn Gallego’s building into an inclusive space for all faiths and one that is used to help the poor.

“There are already too many cathedrals and too many churches, that sometimes lack people,” he said.

“It will not be a typical cathedral, but a social centre where people can come to pray or if they are facing difficulties,” he added.

A photo of Justo Gallego Martinez on display at his cathedral following his passing. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
A photo of Justo Gallego Martinez on display at his cathedral following his passing. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)

Father Angel is famous in Spain for running a restaurant offering meals to the homeless and for running a church in central Madrid where pets are welcome and the faithful can confess via iPad.

Inside the Cathedral of Justo, volunteers continued working on the structure while a steady stream of visitors walked around the grounds admiring the building in the nondescript suburb.

“If the means are put in, especially materials and money, to finish it, then it will be a very beautiful place of worship,” said Ramon Calvo, 74, who was visiting the grounds with friends.

FIND OUT MORE: How to get to Justo’s Cathedral and more amazing images