Understanding the Border Rules to Travel from Spain to England

The UK Government have made changes to their coronavirus restrictions for those travelling to England, which came into effect on Monday 4th October. These new rules mean that fully vaccinated travelers from Spain (as well as fully vaccinated tourists arriving back in to England from Spain) are no longer required to take, and pay for, pre-departure Covid-19 tests.

Here is a full break down of all the travel rules that have changed, which will make visiting England much easier this Autumn:

Official Changing Travel Rules

Before the 4th October, fully vaccinated visitors arriving in to England were required to take a pre-departure lateral flow test in the two days before departure, followed by a PCR test in the two days after their arrival in England. Now, the requirement to take the pre-departure test for this cohort has been removed. This new process was announced by the UK’s Transport Secretary Grant Shapps on Friday 17th September and came into force on Monday 4th October. When announcing the update, Mr. Shapps said: “Today’s changes mean a simpler, more straightforward system. One with less testing and lower costs, allowing more people to travel, see loved ones or conduct business around the world while providing a boost for the travel industry”.

Exceptions to the Rules

It is important to note that these new travel rules are only applicable for arrivals to England: if you are flying into an airport that is in Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland then the rules will be different, and you should check these before you fly.

The other good news that has come from this travel update is that the UK’s confusing traffic light system has now been replaced, with the ‘amber’ list removed completely. Instead, countries will be divided into two categories: the ‘red list’ and the ‘rest of the world’ with only red list countries facing severe restrictions on access. Spain is currently in the ‘rest of the world’ category, meaning that visitors to England from Spain will face the least restrictive level of travel restrictions.

Understanding What the New Travel Rules Mean

Here is a full breakdown of what the travel rules mean for different groups. This will vary depending on whether you have received your vaccinations or not.

  • If you are a fully vaccinated traveler from ‘the rest of the world’ then you do not need to take a pre-departure test before you travel to England.
  • You will still need to take a PCR test on day two after your arrival in the UK, even if you’re fully vaccinated. This test should be booked and paid for in advance, as you will need to provide the reference number of this test in order to travel, and you will also need to include this reference on your passenger locator form.
  • In order to be considered fully vaccinated, you will need to have received two doses of an ‘approved vaccine’ and you will need to provide evidence of this when you travel.
  • If you are unvaccinated and travelling from Spain to England then you will have to quarantine for ten days after arrival, as well as pay for PCR tests on day 2 and day 8 after your arrival. The UK does operate a test to release scheme which allows you to test on day 5 rather than 8, and reduce your isolation period, provided the result is negative.
  • If you do test positive at any point then you will need to take an additional PCR test to confirm this, at no extra expense to you. You will then need to isolate for 10 days, or longer if you are still displaying certain symptoms at the end of this 10 day period.
  • All passengers will still need to fill in a Passenger Locator Form ahead of travel.
  • All travellers returning to Spain will also need to fill out a Health Control Form upon their return.

What If I Have Mixed Vaccinations?

The UK government used to have a hard policy that individuals who had received mixed vaccine doses (something that is common in Europe) would not be considered fully vaccinated in the UK. However, in conjunction with this new update, this rule has changed. Now, if you have two doses of coronavirus vaccination (for example one dose of Astra Zeneca and one dose of Pfizer) then you will now be accepted as fully vaccinated, and able to enter England under this banner. This will allow you to avoid quarantine on your arrival. Again, if you are travelling to Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales it is worth checking their rules on this issue, which may differ.

If you have received your mixed dose coronavirus vaccination outside of the EU then you can still travel if you were vaccinated in any of the following countries:  Australia, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Bahrain, Brunei, Canada, Dominica, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, Malaysia, New Zealand, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea or Taiwan as well as those vaccinated in the UK. However, if you have recovered from coronavirus and only had one dose of the vaccine then, unlike in the EU, you will not be considered fully vaccinated for the purpose of entry to England, and would have to quarantine on arrival in the country.

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