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What are the rules for travel between Spain and France this Christmas?

Here's everything you need to know about the current rules for travel between France and Spain over the festive season, from the documents required to the tests you may need to get.

France-Spain border
Travel rules between Spain and France. Photo: ANDER GILLENEA / AFP

Many people are planning a trip between Spain and France this Christmas, either to visit friends and family over the holiday period, for tourism purposes or to access ski resorts.

The borders between the two countries remain open and there are no major restrictions on travelling between Spain and France if you have the necessary certificates and documentation.

Flying from France to Spain

The Spanish government Spain Travel Health website states that to enter Spain from France you must present your EU Digital COVID Certificate, also known as the Covid health pass or passport. The certificate may contain one or more of the following documents:

  • Proof of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with a second dose at least 14 days prior to arrival in Spain.
  • A diagnostic test, which has been performed within 72 hours prior to arrival in Spain for NAAT (nucleic acid amplification tests, e.g. RT-PCR, RT-LAMP, TMA) or 48 hours for RAT (rapid antigen test), the result of which has been negative.
  • A recovery certificate from COVID-19, after the illness has passed, provided that more than 11 days have elapsed since the first positive NAAT test was performed, and shall be valid for up to six months after.

If you do not have your Digital Covid Certificate you can present proof of any one of the above. Children under 12 are exempt from these rules.

Spanish authorities consider travellers to be fully vaccinated if they’ve received vaccine doses approved by the European Medicines Agency or the World Health Organisation (2 doses for Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Sinopharm, Sinovac; one for Johnson & Johnson) more than 14 days before travel to Spain.

Proof of full vaccination required from people aged 12 and over has to be issued by the “competent authorities” of the country where the vaccination was carried out, the dates and the vaccine administered.

In addition, all those who enter Spain by air and sea must fill out the Travel Health Form found here no more than 48 hours before arrival. This will give you a QR code, which you can present at the airport before travelling. 

If you’re coming from an area of France that is not on the Spanish government’s list of ‘at risk’ regions, technically you do not need to show any documentation.

However, the list is updated weekly and the situation changes quickly, so it’s always best to make sure you have the correct documentation just in case. You can find the list HERE

As things stand, all of France is classified as ‘at risk’, which means that unvaccinated French travellers will not be able to fly to Spain unless they can provide a negative Covid test or proof of recovery.

READ ALSO: How to get a Digital Covid Certificate for travel from Spain to the EU

Driving from France to Spain

If you want to cross the land border into Spain, the same rules apply with regards to Covid certificates and showing whether you’ve been vaccinated, have recovered or have a negative Covid-19 test.

Not all land borders have officials checking, so you may not be stopped and asked for documentation, but it’s better to have them just in case.

Those travelling by land do not have to fill out Spain’s Travel Health Form.

If you plan on driving through France on your way back from the UK, you should know that the French government recently banned all non-essential travel from Britain in a bid to curb the lightning spread of the Omicron Covid-19 variant, starting from midnight on Friday December 17th. 

However, if you are a UK citizen or a non-EU national who has permanent residency in Spain and are transiting through France in order to return to home, you will be allowed in. Proof of residency such as a residency card or visa will be required.

Flying from Spain to France

According to the French government website people who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 who are arriving from a Member State of the European Union are exempt from showing a Covid test. Their vaccination with an EMA or WHO-approved inoculation (Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Sinopharm, Sinovac) will need to have been completed at least 7 days before travel to France, or 28 days before in the case of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Those unable to provide proof of a complete vaccination schedule will need to show a negative PCR or antigen test, taken less than 48 hours beforehand. 

France’s travel rules apply to people aged 12 and over. 

French authorities consider travellers to be fully vaccinated if they’ve received the full vaccine doses approved by the European Medicines Agency. 

You can show your EU Digital Covid Certificate to prove that you are either fully vaccinated, have a negative Covid-19 test or have recovered from Covid. Otherwise you can show other documentation proving one of these three. 

Before entering France, each passenger must fill out an affidavit certifying that they do not have Covid-19 symptoms and haven’t been in contact with a positive case of Covid-19 in the last 14 days. The form will usually be provided on the plane.

On Thursday, the French government toughened the entry rules for UK arrivals, but could this mean that travellers from Spain or other EU countries have to provide an extra PCR for travel to France over Christmas? It seems unlikely.

“Facing variants of the virus, we must continue to act as Europeans. Vaccinated people will not have to take tests to travel between EU member states,” French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted following an EU Council meeting on Thursday.

READ MORE: Macron vows not to impose stricter entry rules to France from within EU 

Driving from Spain to France 

If you are planning on driving from Spain to France then you must also abide by the same rules as when entering by air or sea. The only exceptions are:

  • Those entering France for less than 24 hours and within a radius of 30km from where they live.
  • Those entering for professional reasons of an urgent nature
  • Those who are transport professionals

You must also make sure you’ve filled out France’s affidavit form, as this applies to all passengers, not just those travelling by air and sea. You may not always and be stopped and asked for it, but if you are, you will be expected to have it.

Covid health passes

In France

Digital Covid Certificates or the passe sanitaire, as they are called in France, are required to access leisure or cultural venue across France such as museums, galleries, theaters and attractions.

Those travelling from Spain can easily use their EU Digital Covid Certificate for this purpose.

In Spain

Covid certificate requirements differ depending on which region you’re visiting in Spain. If they are required, then are generally needed to access bars and restaurants, as well as nightlife venues, but not for museums or theatres.

Find out here exactly which regions require the pass and for which purposes HERE.

Again, your EU Digital Covid Certificate is recognised and can be used in Spain.

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Health experts advise end of masks on public transport in Spain

Spanish health experts have advised the government that the use of masks should no longer be obligatory on public transport, but no concrete date has yet been set.

Health experts advise end of masks on public transport in Spain

Health experts who advise the Spanish Ministry of Health have said that masks should no longer be mandatory on public transport, but with the caveat that the government should first wait and observe the epidemiological situation in China, which has experienced a surge in case numbers since it abandoned its strict ‘Zero Covid’ strategy at the end of 2022, following widespread civil unrest.

The use of masks on public transport has now been the norm in Spain for almost three years, since the start of the pandemic. 

Speaking to Ser Canarias, Darias said: “We are getting closer and closer [to the end of having to wear a mask], but we will have to see how things evolve in order to make that decision; obviously the epidemiological situation is getting better and better, but we have to see how the issue of China evolves”. 

Reports in the Spanish press suggest some kind of agreement was made during a meeting between the government and the experts in December that masks would no longer be compulsory after assessing the situation in China, however, there is still no fixed date.

Back in October 2022, Spain’s ‘Emergency Unit’ suggested that mask rules would not be reviewed until March 2023 at the earliest, but more recently it said that it does not seem necessary to wait for March to remove the mask rule. 

According to recent Ministry of Health figures, just 2.79 percent of hospital beds in Spain are taken up by Covid-19 patients.

READ ALSO: Face masks to remain mandatory on public transport in Spain until March 2023

The use of masks indoors in Spain ceased to be mandatory on April 20th, 2022, after almost two years, however, they have remained mandatory in hospitals, pharmacies and, crucially, also on buses, metro, trains, planes and taxis.

While the mask rules have been strictly enforced in some places in Spain such as Seville and Valencia, in other cities such as Barcelona, many people refuse to wear them, despite the regulations still officially being in place. 

READ ALSO: Spain now requires Covid certificates for arrivals from China

In China, figures suggest that almost 60,000 people have died as a result of Covid-19 in a single month amid the spike in cases following the end of the country’s draconian restrictions. In response, Spain reintroduced health control checks for travellers arriving from China. 

It seems that Darias and the Spanish government are waiting to see how the situation plays out in China first, but all the indications and expert advice seems to suggest that masks will no longer be mandatory in public transport sometime very soon.