8 May, 2021 @ 10:58
2 mins read

EXPLAINER: What Spain’s ‘amber’ classification on UK travel list means for travellers

Aena Stock Airport Image

THE UK government has introduced a “traffic light” system categorising travel rules for destinations across the world by assigning a level of red, amber or green to each country.

Until May 17, the UK has banned foreign travel for all but non-essential journeys but from that date new rules will apply under the traffic light system.

 On Friday, UK government minister Grant Shapps announced which countries were classified as what and unfortunately Spain didn’t make it onto the green list although neighbouring Portugal and Gibraltar did.

The list only applies to those travelling to England as the devolved nations of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales have not announced when they will lift travel restrictions or what the conditions will be when they do.

So is travel allowed to and from Spain to the UK?

Spain currently has a ban on UK travellers in place until the end of May allowing only Spanish citizens, those who are resident in Spain (and have the papers to prove it) or for exceptional circumstances such as work or study.

In terms of travellers arriving from Spain to England, the rules determining who can travel have eased under the new traffic light system as people can travel from amber list countries for any reason – there is no need to prove that your trip is essential and entry is not limited to UK nationals or residents.

But the UK government is advising against travel to amber list countries for leisure or tourism reasons and while this isn’t a travel ban per se it could invalidate travel insurance, so check your policy before you travel.

However the rules on testing and quarantine remain much the same, and are strict enough to discourage most people to chose an amber country as a holiday destination.

Expat beach in Spain with suitcases Vidar Nordli Mathisen /Unsplash
What are the rules on travel to Spain? Photo: Vidar Nordli Mathisen /Unsplash

Tests and quarantine

The rules for travellers returning to England from an amber country such as Spain are:

  • Provide a negative Covid test taken within last 72 hours to show at the border
  • Completed passenger locator form  
  • Compulsory quarantine for 10 days – this can be done in a location of their choice including the home of a friend or family member and there is no need to pay for a “quarantine hotel”.
  • Arrivals also have to pay for travel-testing kits which cost  around £200 per traveller

Review every three weeks

The latest announcement doesn’t write Spain off for the entire summer as the list will be reviewed every three weeks and if Spain’s infection rate continues to drop and it’s vaccination programme rolls out, Spain may well be upgraded to the green list.

Vaccine passport

Spain has said it will be ready to introduce a vaccine type passport from June, although it will need to be agreed across the EU and hopefully rolled out to include third party nations including Britain.


Fiona Govan

Fiona Govan joined The Olive Press in March 2021. She moved to Spain in 2006 to be The Daily Telegraph’s Madrid correspondent and then worked for six years as Editor of The Local Spain. She lives in Madrid’s Malasaña district with her dog Rufus.

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