10 Dec, 2021 @ 15:06
3 mins read

What you need to know about Covid passports: Are foreign vaccination certificates accepted in Spain?

Eu Digital Covid Certificat Mobile

DIGITAL COVID certificates proving vaccination status are now required to enter many bars, restaurants and venues in Spain.

You’ll be asked to present your COVID pass containing a QR code in 10 Spanish regions: Andalucia (Costa del Sol, Malaga), Valencian Community (Costa Blanca, Alicante), Balearic Islands (Mallorca, Ibiza), Catalunya (Barcelona), Navarre, Aragon, Cantabria, Basque Country and Galicia.

Depending on the region, size of establishment and time of day you could be barred entry without a valid digital COVID certificate.

As a member of the European Union, Spain introduced the EU Digital Covid Certificate on July 1 to allow safe and free movement within the EU.

The EU Digital COVID Certificate consists of a document with a QR Code that details vaccination history or recovery from covid, and is valid for 9 months after completion of vaccination series.

In practice, the so-called covid passport meant foreign residents would not need to quarantine when travelling to Spain, and vice versa.

Digital COVID certificates are now required to access many bars, restaurants and venues in Spain. Customers are typically asked to show their QR codes proving COVID immunity.

Though the European Commission sets the rules, many of Spain’s autonomous regions have their own healthcare systems and so obtaining an EU Digital COVID Certificate varies by region.

If you are a resident in Spain, you can request an EU Digital COVID Certificate at your nearest centro de atención primaria (CAP) with your SIP card (if you received vaccinations in Spain) or with supporting documents (if you received vaccinations outside of Spain but are resident within Spain).

You can see a breakdown of rules for entering establishments by region here.

Regions of Spain where covid passports are obligatory for entering certain establishments (in Spanish). Source: RTVE.

What foreign vaccination certificates are accepted in Spain?

The European Commission declared COVID-19 vaccination certificates from the United Kingdom as equivalent to the EU Digital Covid Certificate on October 28.

A press release reads the UK will be ‘connected to the EU’s system and the COVID certificates they issue will be accepted in the EU under the same conditions as the EU Digital COVID Certificate’.

For UK travellers to Spain, this means establishments in Spain should accept and be able to scan QR codes from your NHS COVID Pass.

You can download an NHS COVID Pass from the NHS App.

The current list of 25 non-EU countries connected to the EU Digital COVID Certificate system are:

•    Albania
•    Andorra
•    Armenia
•    Switzerland
•    El Salvador
•    Faroe Islands
•    Georgia
•    Israel
•    Iceland
•    Liechtenstein
•    Moldova
•    Monaco
•    Morocco
•    New Zealand
•    North Macedonia
•    Norway
•    Panama
•    San Marino
•    Serbia
•    Singapore
•    Togo
•    Turkey
•    Ukraine
•    United Kingdom
•    The Vatican

COVID certificates from these countries are accepted as equivalent to the EU Digital COVID Certificate, and vice versa.

Problems with the COVID certificate in Spain

Because regional authorities control healthcare in some of Spain’s 17 autonomous communities, access to the EU Digital COVID Certificate and to establishments may vary.

This may be because only the following four vaccines are recognised:

  • Comirnaty (Pfizer/BioNTech)
  • Moderna
  • Vaxzervria (AstraZeneca)
  • Janssen (Johnson & Johnson)

However, Spanish residents who received NHS vaccines have complained have complained about the difficulty of accessing an EU Digital COVID Certificate in Spain: one said their local centro de atención primaria claimed QR codes from the NHS COVID Pass ‘could not be read’ by scanners; another said they emailed documentation and received their QR code the next day by email.

Many people without an ED Digital COVID Certificate are also finding themselves refused entry to bars and restaurants – even if their QR codes for relevant COVID vaccinations allowed them access the country.

Foreigners in the northern city Pamplona have complained bars and restaurants denied them entry as their QR codes could not be validated by scanners.

The issue is that regional health authorities in Navarre have not issued an App to allow bar and restaurant owners to scan QR codes from customers.

Business owners said they had to ‘sort themselves out’ and resort to using a Swiss-based app.

Spain’s central government has not yet rolled out a nationwide app to scan QR codes, unlike other countries like Italy, Germany and Switzerland.

Other media in Spain are recommending a German-made app, Corona-Warn-App.

Have you had trouble with accessing bars, restaurants and venues in Spain? Contact us at [email protected].


Joshua Parfitt

Joshua James Parfitt is the Costa Blanca correspondent for the Olive Press. He holds a gold-standard NCTJ in multimedia journalism from the award-winning News Associates in Twickenham. His work has been published in the Sunday Times, Esquire, the Mail on Sunday, the Daily Mail, the Sun, the Sun on Sunday, the Mirror, among others. He has appeared on BBC Breakfast to discuss devastating flooding in Spain, as well as making appearances on BBC and LBC radio stations.

Contact me now: [email protected] or call +44 07960046259. Twitter: @jjparfitt

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