The European Union is gradually beginning to reopen borders as the coronavirus pandemic is brought under control in many parts of the world.
Whilst restrictions remain in place, the blanket travel implemented in March has been lifted and citizens of certain third-countries can now cross the external border to visit Spain or other European nations.
As countries must meet specific criteria to be included on the list, the reopening of borders should not compromise health and safety.
Within the EU, most internal checkpoints reintroduced to prevent the spread of the coronavirus have now been removed. As some do remain, anyone with plans to travel from Spain to another Schengen nation should consult the list below and stay up to date with the latest travel information.
Who can travel to EU countries?
Non-essential travel to Europe is now possible for citizens from a selection of countries. The EU released a list of safe nations which is updated regularly in line with the current situation both in Europe and the third countries in question.
The list is a recommendation from the EU to the Member States, each Member State can take decisions regarding its borders. The European microstates of Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, and the Vatican are considered EU territory and are therefore advised to follow this recommendation.
Restrictions are in place across the EU + area made up of 26 Schengen EU Member States plus 4 Schengen Associates States: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland.
People arriving from outside the EU are advised to check the current entry restrictions for the specific EU nation they wish to visit.
Countries currently on the EU safe list
The latest version of the list, applicable from August 8th, 2020, included the following 11 nations:
- New Zealand
- South Korea
- China (confirmation of reciprocity required)
The list is under constant review, countries will be added once they meet the criteria and can also be removed. Foreign citizens must check the latest list of safe countries before making arrangements.
Requirements to make the EU safe list
To make the EU safe list, third countries must meet the following criteria:
- The number of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 inhabitants over the last 2 weeks must be close or lower than the EU average
- 14 days of a stable or decreasing number of cases
- Satisfactory response to the crisis such as testing, contact tracing, and reporting
Travel ban exemptions
People from countries not yet included on the list above may still be able to enter EU countries if they fall into one of the exempt categories:
- EU nationals and their families
- Long-term residents in an EU Member State and their families
- Individuals considered essential workers such as healthcare professionals and seasonal agricultural workers
Internal border checkpoint in the EU
Under normal circumstances, there are no internal border checkpoints in the Schengen Area. When countries sign the Schengen Agreement they pledge to abolish borders with the other Member States.
The borderless region is of great benefit to non-EU passport holders who can move freely within the travel zone with a Schengen visa or, from 2022, an ETIAS visa waiver.
Internal borders were temporarily reduced in the Schengen Area, limiting travel has proved an effective means of halting the spread of the virus. Whilst most internal borders have now been removed, visitors should be aware that some restrictions remain in place.
Border controls temporarily reintroduced in the EU
- Hungary: all internal borders until 30th September
- Denmark: all internal border until 30th September
- Finland: borders with Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, Czechia, Germany, Denmark, Spain, France, Iceland, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, and Slovenia until 18th September
- Lithuania: all internal air and sea borders until 14th September
- Norway: all internal borders until 13th September
The situation will be reviewed on the date shown, EU Member States are encouraged to reopen their internal borders as soon as possible.
Travel restrictions in Spain
It is now possible to go to Spain from another EU or Schengen country, or from one of the places included in the latest version of the EU safe list plus Morrocco.
Visa requirements remain. Third-country nationals from visa-exempt countries can travel to Spain visa-free, from 2022 they will also need to apply for an ETIAS Spain visa waiver which will help to protect the health and safety of tourists.
Restrictions on travelling from Spain to other countries
There are currently restrictions, including quarantine measures, for people travelling to the following countries from Spain:
Australia, Canada, South Korea, China, Denmark, Slovenia, Finland, Georgia, Greece, Italy, Norway, Japan, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Switzerland (apart from the Canary Islands), Uruguay, and Tunisia.
Belgium restricts the entry of visitors from Arago, Lleida, Navarra, and Barcelona.
Anyone who wishes to travel from Spain to one of these countries should check the latest travel information for Spain and be prepared to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival.
Spain travel rules and mandatory documentation
All passengers arriving in Spain by land or sea will undergo temperature checks. Individuals with a temperature exceeding 37.5 ºC will not be granted entry.
They must also complete a Public Health Form or use the Spain Travel Health app (SpTH). After submitting the form the passenger receives a QR code to present on arrival.
Travel to Spain must be avoided if an individual is experiencing any of the COVID-19 symptoms.