New Year, New Rules? Everything That Changes in Spain in 2022

The New Year always brings about change: whether you're starting a New Year’s resolution, or feeling ready for a big change, like moving to Spain.

2022 is set to bring plenty of changes (both positive and negative) to life in Spain.

If you’re already living in the country, or if you like to visit regularly, then here are some of those key changes that you need to know about:


Wearing Face Masks, and Other Covid Restrictions

Is it time to imagine a New Year that doesn’t include Covid restrictions? Well, that might be a little premature. As a result of the new, and highly infectious, Omicron variant, Christmas 2021 saw some covid restrictions, including the use of face masks, reintroduced in Spain.

Because the covid situation evolves so quickly, it is impossible to predict what 2022 will look like, but we should expect for some limitations to remain, at least in the short term. The current rules around wearing face masks outside are said to be temporary, with Spanish Health Minister Carolina Darias suggesting some regions will end these rules by mid-January. We can expect to be wearing face masks indoors for much longer.

The Covid Health Pass Will Remain

We will start 2022 with the Covid Health Pass required to access huge swathes of society (including bars, restaurants, hospitals and large events) in twelve of Spain’s 17 autonomous regions.  This pass was introduced in those twelve regions in December: this will only be in place in some regions until mid-January.

At this point, we don’t know what regional governments will do next: will they scrap the pass once case numbers drop or will it remain in place to put pressure on the populous to become vaccinated? What we do know is that from 1st February 2022 Spain will adopt the EU-wide policy that the the EU-wide Digital Covid Certificate will expire nine months after full vaccination. It is only after a third booster shot is administered that the validity of Spain-issued and other EU Covid health passes will be accepted and extended without a set limit.

The Covid Vaccination Programme Continues

In the final covid news, Covid Vaccination will continue at an accelerated pace. Vaccination has been a success in Spain, with 90 percent of the population aged over 12 having been vaccinated. As we move into 2022, the focus of the programme will shift to booster shots. The current booster targets are as follows:

  •  80 percent of people aged 60 to 69 will receive a booster shot before the end of 2021.
  • 80 percent of people aged 50 to 59 years will receive a booster shot by the end of January 2022.
  • 80 percent of 40-49 years will receive a booster shot in the first week of March 2022.

In conjunction with this booster programme, the national government has also approved a scheme to administer a milder dose of the Covid vaccine to all children aged between 5 and 11 years old. The current targets for this vaccination programme are:

  • 70 percent of children aged 5 to 11 will receive their first dose in the week of February 7th.
  • 70 percent of children aged 5 to 11 will receive their second dose in the week starting on April 19th.

Electricity price rise

One of the biggest Spanish news stories of 2021 was the skyrocketing price of electricity. These price hikes have been forecast to continue into 2022.

In a bid to combat the negative impact these price hikes will have on family finances; the Spanish government extended the period of tax discounts from electricity bills on 21st December. This extension will last until April 2022: but whether this will have a positive impact on the prices consumers are being forced to pay remains to be seen, given that the wholesale price of electricity is expected to double in 2022, from an average of €110/Mwh in 2021 to € 223.50/Mwh in 2022, based on prices for the first quarter of the new year.

Changing Travel Rules to the EU and Spain

If you are a non-EU citizen (from a country such as the UK, the USA, Canada or Australia) then you need to be aware that new travel changes will come into force in 2022. The first will not affect you directly, but it will change how European borders are policed: in short, a new EES (Entry/Exit System) will provide a security upgrade, replacing passport stamping with an electronic system.

The second change is the introduction of ETIAS (The European Travel Information and Authorisation System), which is a scheme similar to the ESTA required to enter the United States. This will apply only to non-EU citizens without residency status in the EU, and will require that you complete an online application in order to spend up to 90 days in each 180-day period in Spain. Each application will last for three years and cost seven euros: the application is free if you’re under 18 or over 70.

The Introduction of a Startups Law for Foreign Investors

In a bid to attract additional startups and investors to Spain, the government will approve a Startups Law in 2022. This will offer tax reductions to startups and investors. The same law will also entice digital nomads and foreign remote workers with special visas. The aim of the law is to stimulate the Spanish economy, and ultimately generate new jobs. 

“This law will put Spain at the forefront in the creation of these companies,” said Second Vice President and Minister of the Economy, Nadia Calviño, adding that it comes “at a time when there are more and more entrepreneurial digital nomads and investors who can work from anywhere in the world”.

Will 2022 See a 4-Day Week?

Since early 2021, 200 Spanish companies have been trialing a four-day week to see how effective and productive it could be. The aim was to maintain employees’ wages whilst simultaneously improving their wellbeing.

Whilst the official results of this trial haven’t been released yet, Spain’s Labour Minister Yolanda Díaz has announced that in 2022 her department will carry out the reform of the law which allows for a shorter work week and more flexible working hours, subject to “complex” negotiations with business associations and unions. When making this announcement, Ms. Diaz stated that: “We want people who want to be mothers and fathers to be able to do so and in conditions of dignity, so that we don’t have to choose between a career and seeing our children,”

Labour Reform for 2022

Other legislative changes will come into force that will benefit the work force during 2022: on 28th December, the Spanish government approved its labour reform for 2022 and introduced some key changes. Amongst these was better protection of temporary workers: these section of the workforce will now be eligible for severance pay, access to a retraining fund, and other measures to make their work life more stable. The aim of the bill is to ensure less Spaniards are working in precarious situations, where they don’t know if they will have employment from one week to the next.

The End of Public Pay Phones

Once found on the corner of every Spanish street, it is likely that 2022 will be the year all public telephones in Spain will be removed, after 93 years in existence. This is because a decree has been approved to remove the payphone public service requirement from Spanish legislation from 2022.Telefonica payphones are iconic green, blue and grey boxes, but the vast majority of these have fallen into disrepair. Given that only around 20% of the current Spanish population has ever used one, you can expect these boxes to disappear from Spanish streets soon.

A New Housing Law Will Come into Force

In a bid by the left-leaning coalition government to protect the rights of renters, new property laws are set to come into force in 2022. These changes were announced as part of the Spanish Housing Budget for 2022. The property laws will see freezes in rental prices, empty home taxes, rental allowances for those in need and more public housing.

The new law will not be officially approved by the cabinet until January 2022 and has received a lot of opposition: 2022 will reveal what happens next.

Good News for British Drivers?

Hugh Elliott, the UK Ambassador to Spain, has secured another extension to the deadline by which British driving licence holders must exchange their licences for Spanish ones. This is good news, as many British drivers in Spain would prefer not to have to sit the Spanish driving test!

Instead, there are still hopes that negotiations between Elliott and his Spanish counterpart (which has been ongoing throughout 2021, and subject to three extensions) will result in a licence exchange deal: this would allow British residents to drive in Spain on their British licences, and Spanish residents to do the same in the UK. It Is thought that an agreement will be reached in 2022.

Additional Changes for Spanish Car Owners

If you own a car in Spain, or drive in Spain then 2022 will see Spanish Driving License Points Explained | Right Casa Estates. This include much stricter penalties for using your mobile phone behind the wheel, an overhaul of how the fine system will work for traffic violations, and new rules for overtaking, depending on the type of road you are on. The majority of these changes will come into force on 21st March 2022, so now is the perfect time to brush up on this legislation to ensure you don’t fall foul of the law when you’re behind the wheel.

You’ll also find that owning your car in Spain becomes more expensive in 2022, because from 1st January, Spain's registration tax will increase. This change will make  40 percent of new vehicles 5 percent more expensive, costing an average of €800 more than in 2021. Spain’s vehicle registration tax (impuesto de matriculación) is a once-off sum which is paid when you buy a new vehicle: the level of tax you will pay depends on the emission levels of the vehicle you choose to purchase.

Are you thinking of moving to Spain? Perhaps another cold, wet British winter is making you want to invest in the perfect holiday bolt hole for long, lazy Spanish summers? Then why not get in touch with our local property experts, Right Casa estate agents, we are perfectly placed to help you find the Spanish home of your dreams on the Costa Del Sol.