Healthplan Spain


Spain Entry Requirements: What You Need To Know For A Visa-Free Stay Expat Tips

If you're planning to visit Spain for a period of less than three months, it's important to consider a few key factors. Whether you're travelling to see family, for work purposes, or as a tourist, there are certain requirements that you'll need to meet in order to enter the country without a visa.

In this article, we'll provide you with an overview of these requirements, as well as the latest updates and changes to Spain's immigration laws in 2023 and beyond. You will find out about:-

  • Entering Spain for a short stay visa-free
  • The latest requirements to enter Spain
  • The upcoming ETIAS visa waiver
  • Health and financial requirements
  • Proof of accommodation
  • How to ensure trouble-free entry into the country

Let’s take a look.

Can I enter Spain visa-free on a short-stay basis?

If you plan on travelling to Spain for a brief period, you may not need to apply for a residency permit as short stays are those lasting less than three months.

Nevertheless, specific criteria must be met, depending on your nationality or country of origin, to obtain entry into the Schengen Area. Although this zone is distinct from the European Union, Spain is part of both of them.

As a result, you may be required to apply for a tourist visa at the Spanish consulate, depending on your country of origin and comply with certain procedures on entry to the country.

However, it’s important to understand that some countries are exempt from applying for a Schengen visa for short stays. These situations will be the focus of this article.

At the bottom of this article, we then cover Schengen visas and those who will need to apply for one to enter Spain.

The requirements to enter Spain visa-free

For citizens of countries that require a visa to enter Spain, they may be eligible for visa-free entry for stays of up to 90 days within a 180-day period if they meet certain conditions. These conditions may include:

  • Having a valid passport or travel document recognized by Spain and not expiring within six months of the intended departure date.
  • Having sufficient funds to cover their stay in Spain and return journey. This typically means having enough money to cover accommodation, food, transportation, and other expenses during their stay in Spain.
  • Having a return or onward ticket. This means that travellers must have a confirmed flight or transportation ticket to leave Spain within the 90-day period or onward to another destination.
  • Not being listed on any national or international databases for security reasons. Travellers who are on a national or international watch list or database for security or immigration reasons may be denied entry to Spain.
  • You may also be asked to provide proof of valid travel health insurance or GHIC/EHIC to cover you in the event that you become ill while in Spain and require hospital treatment.

It's important to note that immigration officers at the border have the final say on whether to grant entry, and may require additional documents or information to assess the traveller's purpose and intent of stay. For example, if the traveller is visiting friends or family, they may be asked to provide an invitation letter from their host, as well as information on their accommodation and travel plans.

If you're unsure about your eligibility for visa-free entry to Spain, or if you have any questions about the entry requirements, it's best to check with the nearest Spanish embassy or consulate in your home country or the official website of the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The ETIAS visa waiver

The ETIAS visa scheme is a travel authorization system that is being implemented by the European Union (EU) for visa-exempt travellers. ETIAS stands for European Travel Information and Authorization System, and it will be a requirement for citizens of countries that do not currently require a visa to enter the Schengen Area.

The ETIAS system is expected to become operational in 2024, and it will be a pre-screening process that will check the background and eligibility of travellers before they can enter the Schengen Area. The system will require travellers to complete an online application and provide personal and travel information, including their passport details, their travel itinerary, and their health status. They will also need to pay a small fee for the ETIAS which will be around €7 per person.

Once the application is submitted, it will be checked against various EU databases, including those related to security, border control, and immigration.

If the application is approved, the traveller will receive an electronic travel authorization that will be valid for three years and will allow them to enter any of the Schengen countries for up to 90 days in a 180-day period.

The ETIAS system is designed to improve the security of the Schengen Area by identifying potential security threats before they can enter. It is also hoped that it will help to streamline the border control process and reduce wait times for travellers entering the area.

You can see a full list of the nationalities who will require an ETIAS visa waiver from 2024.

Health control requirements

Starting on January 3rd, 2023, Spain has reintroduced compulsory COVID-19 vaccination and testing regulations for all individuals arriving from China. Passengers from China will undergo visual and temperature screening upon arrival and may have to undergo a diagnostic test for active COVID-19 infection at the entry point. This rule does not apply to children under 12 years of age or passengers transiting airside for less than 24 hours. Additional details can be found on the website of the Ministry of Health. However, these regulations are not applicable to travellers from Hong Kong.

For all other passengers, Spain does not require any proof of vaccination, negative COVID-19 test results, or a COVID-19 recovery certificate to enter the country, regardless of vaccination status.

Completion of the health control form is also no longer a requirement.

Schengen tourist visas may be required by some travellers

The Schengen visa is available to non-European nationals listed in Annex I of Regulation (EU) 2018/1806, granting a stay in the Schengen area for up to 90 days (within any 180-day period) for purposes such as tourism, business, visiting family, medical treatment, studies, training placements or volunteer activities that last under 3 months, or other non-gainful activities. The visa also allows transit through the Schengen area's territories and airports.

The Schengen area encompasses 26 European countries, including Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

While the Schengen visa permits the holder to travel to any of the Schengen states and transit through their territories, it does not automatically entitle them to enter the Schengen area. Border officials may reject entry if the visa holder fails to present evidence of the trip's purpose and details, or if they do not fulfil any other entry requirements.

How to ensure trouble-free entry into Spain

We have outlined the current rules on entering Spain for a short stay of 90 days or less.

Most people will not require a visa, however, this will depend on a number of things such as your nationality, the length of stay and the purpose of your visit.

If you are in any doubt, it is important that you contact your nearest Spanish consulate to ascertain whether you may enter the country visa-free or not.

If you do this prior to making any travel arrangements, you can be sure that you will not have any issues at the border and can enter Spain trouble-free.