Spain: Expert explains ‘repercussions’ for British expats
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Post-Brexit rules for Britons travelling to Spain — and other EU destinations — mean tourists need to have a number of documents ready, such as proof of accommodation and health insurance.
Since the UK left the EU, travelling to beloved Spain requires slightly more preparation for Britons, including the ability to demonstrate they have accommodation.
For tourists staying with friends or family rather than in a hotel or Airbnb, an invitation letter (carta de invitación), which the host has to apply for at their local police station, will do.
Business travellers, meanwhile, have to show an invite to a trade fair or conference while international students may be required to show proof of enrolment in a course in Spain.
Likewise, unless staying in the country for a long period for specified reasons, British travellers are required to have a return ticket, with which Spain’s Interior Ministry intends to prevent non-EU citizens from staying indefinitely.
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Health is a big issue for tourists, and that’s not only on the Covid front.
All travellers are expected to have medical insurance that covers emergency treatment and hospitalisation during their trip, which is included in most airline insurances.
However, COVID-19 guidelines are at the moment particularly important to follow.
All international travellers, regardless of their nationality and origin, need to fill in a coronavirus health control form — the equivalent of the UK’s passenger locator form — electronically via the Spain Travel Health website or app before arrival.
UK travellers have to show proof of vaccination before departure and upon arrival.
The UK Government has this week posted an update on the accepted format of the vaccination certificate: “Spain will accept the UK’s COVID-19 vaccination record.
“If you are travelling with a printed PDF proof of vaccination status, it must date from 1 November to ensure that the certificate can be scanned correctly.
“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.”
Unvaccinated British tourists can visit Spain too but will need to provide a negative test result — preferably a PCR as antigen tests will only be accepted in limited circumstances and not for tourism — taken within the 72 hours before the trip.
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Travellers unable to show proof of vaccination or a negative test result have to undergo testing and quarantine and could face a fine.
While Spanish officials are not known for giving Britons trouble upon entry, there are a number of errors that could certainly stop UK travellers from crossing the border – not carrying a valid passport being a key element to watch out for.
A national ID isn’t enough for EU trips anymore. While it may seem obvious, Britons are advised to check that their passports are valid for at least three months after leaving the UK. If they are to expire soon and a border official notices, they could be denied entry.
In the context of passports, UK visitors are urged to make sure they get stamped as they leave Spain. This is to keep track of their date of departure from Spain and to demonstrate it was within the allowed timeframe of 90 out of 180 days that British tourists can spend in the Schengen area.
A 72-year-old British woman who lives in Gibraltar was turned away at the Spanish border in September after Spanish officials had not given her an “exit stamp” when she left the country during her last trip in June.
She told The Local: “The guards initially stamped my passport to enter, then they noticed I had no exit stamp from that one-week visit in June, thereby classing me as an overstayer and subsequently marked the entry stamp with the letter F and two lines.
“Even though I have proof of returning to the UK via banking activity as well as the test and trace Covid app, the border guards would not accept or look at any proof.
“My son, who speaks Spanish, tried to explain that I had other proof of returning to the UK but the guards would not accept or even consider looking at it.
“They just kept insisting that I had no stamp, that I had overstayed and would be arrested as illegal.”
Article 53.1.a of Spain’s Immigration Bill states that surpassing the 90-day limit could be considered a serious violation in the eyes of the law, leading to penalties ranging from €501 (about £425) to €10,000 (£8,470) as well as a possible expulsion from Spain and a potential ban from the Schengen area for a period of six months to five years.
Anyone intending to stay longer than 90 days must request a visa and, if granted one, show proof of having sufficient funds — €95 or about £80 per day, according to Spain’s Ministry of the Interior — to support themselves while in the country.
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office has been contacted for comment on the hurdles British travellers could face upon arrival in Spain.
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