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This Is The Last Country In Europe Where Unvaccinated Americans Still Need Testing

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More than two years into the pandemic, Europe is finally open for tourism with no restrictions – or most of it. Now that countries like The Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Germany, which once imposed the strictest entry requirements possible, have abolished them all, only one European country stands alone in requiring tests of unvaccinated Americans.

Aerial View Of Ronda, Andalusia, Spain, Europe

For some in certain parts of the world, it certainly feels like the virus has been beaten, especially now that a majority of countries worldwide have decided it is time to move forward, including in Europe, a continent that was for months on end plagued by a succession of lockdowns, mask mandates, and blanket bans on international tourism.

Sadly, not the whole of Europe is ready to leave Covid in the past just yet, with one of its most important nations, and one of the world's top destinations, still enforcing travel rules:

Americans Must Still Provide Valid Covid Certificate When Entering This Top Tourist Destination

Alhambra, Fortress Built By The Moors In The City Of Granada, Andalusia, Spain, Europe

Officially, Spain is the last European country to require pre-departure tests of non-immunized Americans and other non-residents. While this does not necessarily mean U.S. tourists are banned unless they can provide proof of vaccination, it does entail some extra bureaucracy and, of course, the risk of disrupted travel plans in the event of a positive test.

At present, Spain's entry rules are the toughest in a bloc that has little to no requirements whatsoever. In order to be eligible for entry, Americans must satisfy Spanish border authorities with a valid health certificate. This can be either the aforementioned vaccination card, proof of recovery, or a negative PCR or Rapid Antigen test.

Town Of Frigiliana, Pueblos Blancos, Andalusia, Spain, Europe

Regardless of their proof of entry and chosen certificate, Americans must note these are all time-sensitive. Surprisingly, Spain still follows a now-defunct EU rule that applied a validity period to two-dose certificates, usually up to 270 days. Once these nine months have elapsed, the primary course of immunization is deemed invalid for travel purposes.

Yes, Spain expects incoming travelers arriving directly from the U.S. to provide proof of a booster shot, which then extends the validity of the vaccine pass indefinitely. This applies only to those who arrive from outside the European Union or any associated Schengen members, including the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

Beach Lounges In Malaga, Andalusia, Spain, Europe

Those who do not qualify for the vaccine exemption must either undergo PCR/Antigen testing or obtain a recovery letter. Negative PCR test results are valid when issued up to 72 hours prior to entry, compared to 24 hours for Antigen. Alternatively, those who have recovered from Covid must have had a certificate issued up to six months preceding the date of entry.

In sum:

  • Two-dose vaccination certificates are valid between 14 days after application of the second dose and up to 270 days from this date*
  • PCR tests are valid when undertaken under 72 hours prior to departure
  • Rapid Antigen tests are only allowed up to 24 hours leading up to take-off
  • Proof of recovery older than six months, counting backward from the date of departure, is not permitted

*Proof of a booster dose reinforces the certificate permanently

Spanish Flag Flying In An Unspecified Spanish City, Spain

Is There A Way To Circumvent These Rules?

Technically, yes, but it's up to you to decide whether it's a risk worth taking.

We should mention that if you are not vaccinated and/or have not received a booster and are due to enter Spain at some point on your European itinerary, arriving via another Schengen hub may help you bypass most of these rules, as they don't apply to Americans crossing over from other Schengen countries.

Young Female Traveler Looking Sad As She Wears A Face Mask And Leans On Her Luggage In Plaza Mayor, Madrid, Spain

For a bit of context, the Schengen Area is a border-free zone in Europe comprising most of the European Union and some of its associates, including Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, and others. Effectively, there is no border control or identity checks traveling within the zone: you're only screened at your initial entry point.

  • E.g., flying from the U.S. directly to Spain, you will be subject to Covid entry rules. Driving from France into Spain, you will not.

There may be more thorough checks carried out at airports, ferry ports, or train stations in the context of intra-Schengen travel involving Spain, and the above does not constitute travel advice on our part. We are merely reporting a loophole in the travel rules that has been brought to our attention by readers and our own writers who travel Europe extensively.

Celebratory Monument In Public Square In Victoria Gasteiz, Basque Country, Spain

When Will Spain Join Its European Counterparts In Lifting All Covid Rules?

Recently, Spain decided to remove its version of the pandemic-era Passenger Locator Form, though all other bureaucratic hurdles remain. According to Spain's Ministry of Health, passengers who arrive from countries lying outside the EU or the Schengen Area – namely Americans – must show a Covid Certificate until at least November 15.

Unless there is an abrupt shift in approach, this indicates Spain will continue enforcing a ‘vaccine or test' rule this fall until rules are revised for winter. For that reason, it may be a long while until the whole of Europe is completely free from the shackles of Covid. We will, of course, keep you updated in case Spain has an unexpected change of heart.

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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com

Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.


Lee

Saturday 15th of October 2022

Question please. I’m travelling to Spain in December and my booster is older then 270 do I need to get a fourth shot ? I currently have 3 shots. Thank you

Kashlee Kucheran

Saturday 15th of October 2022

We believe the 270 days only applies to the original vaccination, and once you have a booster, there are unlimited days afterwards. A 4th shot will not be required.

Remy

Sunday 9th of October 2022

This is a shame but not a disaster. Spain does not prohibit unvaccinated Americans from entering at all. A negative test or certificate of recovery are accepted. Compare this to the Biden travel and transit ban on the unvaccinated foreigners ! The USA are now in the same group as China and North Korea covid wise. What a shame and a disgrace for the Land of the Free !!! My family has been separated for almost a year due to this Biden crazy law and it really hurts !!!

andreas

Monday 3rd of October 2022

i think, all countries should require testing/vaccination for usa, because america require for all travelers this terror?!?

Dondonsurplage

Monday 3rd of October 2022

I canceled my trip to Spain and decided on Costa Rica in November.

Damien

Monday 3rd of October 2022

Dont'forget also that US is not accepting at all the foreign unvaccinated. All europe haven't move-on, but US haven't either