Spain scraps Covid-19 pass rule for EU travellers

EU/Schengen citizens and residents travelling to Spain no longer need to present the EU's Digital Covid Certificate or any other proof of vaccination, testing or recovery to enter the country. 

Spain scraps Covid-19 pass rule for EU travellers
The only Covid-19 rule that remains for EU/Schengen tourists is having to wear a face mask on flights or on crowded ferries heading to Spain. (Photo by JAIME REINA / AFP)

For the first time in more than two years, people from the EU or Schengen Area who are travelling to Spain by air or sea will not have to prove they are fully vaccinated, tested negative for Covid-19 or recovered recently from the illness.

The announcement was published on Thursday June 2nd 2022 in the country’s BOE state bulletin, meaning Spain’s Covid-19 travel rules have changed with immediate effect.

“Due to the high rates of vaccination coverage in Spain, above the European Union average, and the favourable situation of the health system, it is considered appropriate to eliminate travel restrictions for people from countries belonging to the European Union as well as associated Schengen countries”, states the BOE.

In a nutshell, EU/Schengen citizens and residents can now travel to Spain restriction-free. 

The only Covid-19 travel rule that remains for them is having to wear a face mask on flights or inside crowded ferries heading to Spain, as Health Minister Carolina Darias recently stressed

REMINDER: What are Spain’s exact mask rules for travel?

Although it’s not explicitly stated in the BOE, it is understood that EU travellers will not have to complete Spain’s health control form either, as the previous rule stated that those with an EU Digital Covid Certificate or equivalent need not fill out this extra documentation.

“People who arrive in Spain by air or sea from countries that do not belong to the European Union or are not considered Schengen associated countries may be subject to a health check at the first point of entry that will include, at least, the taking of temperature, documentation control and a visual check on their physical condition,” the Spanish government clarified about the fact that the Covid pass rule remains in place for non-EU/Schengen travellers.

Spanish health authorities already eased entry rules for third-country tourists such as Britons and Americans on May 21st, lifting the ban on unvaccinated non-EU/Schengen travellers by allowing them to enter Spain with a negative Covid-19 test.

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What will happen with Spain’s free public transport in 2024?

People in Spain have enjoyed state-funded free or discounted travel on several different transport networks for more than a year now, but with the current measures due to finish at the end of 2023, what will happen in the year to come?

What will happen with Spain's free public transport in 2024?

Throughout part of 2022 and the whole of 2023, Spanish citizens, residents and even tourists have been able to benefit from free public transport in Spain.

The free train travel offer first came into force on September 1st 2022 and was originally due to finish at the end of that year, but the government extended it until December 2023. It was designed to help people manage the effects of inflation.

Passengers could obtain free travel by paying a €10 deposit on Cercanías or Rodalies commuter trains and a €20 deposit on Media Distancia (mid-distance) trains.

The deposit was then returned after every three months if at least 16 trips had been made. Some regions also had free bus travel.

The cost of free local and regional transport was covered by a combination of aid from the State and each autonomous region.

Recently Pedro Sánchez, who has now been sworn in for a new term as PM, announced that he wants to make public transport free in 2024, but only for certain groups of people, not for everyone as it was before.

Spain’s new Transport Minister Óscar Puente, said that the price of the ticket “helped us recover in the post-pandemic era”, although stressed that going forward into 2024 the situation would be different.

The government still has to approve the new measure, but the groups of people Sánchez mentioned would still benefit from free in 2024 are:

– Children under 18

– Unemployed

– Young people (Sánchez didn’t yet specify an age, but some media outlets are reporting it’s for those under 24, while others are saying under age 30).

Both Madrid and the Basque Country, announced in November that they would extend transport aid if the Spanish government decided to maintain the benefit in 2024, but it looks like now this is only going to apply to specific people rather than the entire population.

Whatever the government ultimately approves, any measure to offer free transport to these certain groups will have to be agreed upon by the regional governments too.

Madrid authorities have already announced their intention to keep a discount on public transport in the capital in 2024, with price reductions depending on the zone, a discounted single ticket price, cheaper travel for young people and free transport for seniors. 

The Valencian regional government is also planning to offer free transport to specific groups in 2024, as are authorities in Cantabria and Galicia.

In fact, it is very likely that each of Spain’s 17 autonomous communities will offer discounts and free travel on their public transport networks in 2024, although they will no doubt wait for the central government to specify the population groups and pass legislation confirming this before implementing their own conditions.

Only the price of the Cercanías network depends on the government, while the price of metro, bus or tram networks corresponds to the regions and town councils.