Travel advice for UK visitors to Spain

Foreign travel advice for UK visitors to Spain Credit: Pixabay:

With summer here and Spain offering a wonderful holiday destination, friends and family from the UK will likely want to come over and spend some time here. 

Whether in a hotel or staying with a resident, knowing what is and isn’t required now that the UK has left Brexit is essential.

The most important thing to understand is that Spain is a Schengen member, which governs the applicable rules. This is not new, as Spain signed the Schengen Agreement in June 1991 as a testament to its desire for European integration.

This commitment was shared by all other European Union Members (EU), with the exception of the UK and Ireland, as well as Switzerland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland.

With the UK’s departure from the EU, the possibility of its future inclusion in the Schengen Agreement seems highly unlikely.

Previously, as members of the EU but not the Schengen community, UK citizens enjoyed certain rights and privileges under EU law, including the freedom to live and work in EU member countries.

However, with the UK’s departure from the EU, the landscape has changed. As non-members of the EU, UK citizens are subject to the rules applicable to non-Schengen members, which significantly alters their travel rights and obligations.

Do UK citizens need a visa for Spain in 2024?

Visitors from the UK can still embark on their Spanish adventures without needing a visa as long as they meet two simple criteria: a stay of 90 days or less within a 180-day period and a visit for tourism or other specific purposes.

The UK government website states that these include studying a short course, seeking medical treatment, travelling for business for a UK employer, or engaging in journalism or other media activities.

However, knowing that the criteria are being met may not be enough; proof may be required, too. This can be done in several ways, and it is possible that visitors may be required to demonstrate all or some of them before being permitted into the country, even if just for a holiday.

What are the new passport rules for travelling to Spain?

One of the most crucial aspects to consider is the validity of your passport.  Under Schengen area rules, the passport must have a ‘date of issue’ less than 10 years before the date of arrival. The UK Government website advises that anyone who renewed their passport before 1 October 2018 should check carefully because the date of issue may be longer than 10 years.

Additionally, the passport must have an ‘expiry date’ of at least 3 months after the planned departure from the Schengen area. Ensuring these criteria are met is not just important; it’s essential for a smooth travel experience.

When entering Spain, visitors need to ensure they get their passport stamped on entry and then again on departure.  These stamps will be examined to determine if the stay has been within the agreed 90-day free visa limit for the Schengen area.

If, for any reason, the passport is missing a stamp, the advice is to have evidence of when and where you entered or left the Schengen area.  For example, boarding passes, or tickets can be shown to the border guards. Also, ensure the date and location are added to the passport to avoid future issues.

What documents do I need to fly from UK to Spain?

Beyond a valid passport, most other documents that may be asked for are pretty standard and include, for example, valid travel insurance or evidence of return or onward journey.

However, visitors may be asked for proof of address during their stay and evidence of sufficient funds to cover their time in Spain.

Looking at proof of address, this is easy if staying in a hotel or their own premises, but what about if staying with family and friends? The UK Government website stipulates that the following may be required: “an invitation or proof of address if staying with a third party, friends or family, such as a ‘carta de invitation’ completed by hosts.”

This official document was introduced as a requirement on January 1 2022, although it would appear that many UK tourists have neglected to have it. This could be because, up until now, it has rarely been asked for; indeed, in researching this article, no evidence of such a request could be found.

For those who prefer to err on the side of caution, an official Letter of Invitation can only be obtained by the property owner or holder of the rental contract where the visitor will be staying.  According to the Spain Immigration Service website, the first step is to make an appointment (cita previa) on the SEDE – Admnistractiones Publicas in the relevant province.

You will need a completed invitation form and a Tasa 790 012 printed, paid and stamped by the bank. The current cost is €75.05 with a further administration fee upon collecting the official letter – currently €6 to €7, depending on the police station.

Perhaps this is another reason why there is a reluctance to supply this document for visiting guests.  Further details about the process, including what additional documents are required and how long it is likely to take, can also be found on the Spanish Service Immigration website.

What is proof of sufficient funds for travel to Spain?

The other area of contention is the need to provide sufficient proof of funds while residing in Spain.  Again, this Schengen rule applies to all members, not just Spain.  One good thing about having an official ‘Letter of Invitation’ is that it includes a declaration regarding the host providing lodging, food, etc., and taking financial responsibility for their guest.

This would appear to negate the need for separate proof of funds. However, the UK Government website states that at Spanish border control, travellers may need to show that “they have enough money for their stay—the amount varies depending on accommodation.”

Again, there is some ambiguity about what constitutes ‘sufficient funds, ’ although a figure of €113.40 per day per person seems to appear in quite a few places.  Depending on the size of the party and the length of stay, this could amount to a not-insignificant sum.  One way to meet this requirement is to have a credit card ready to show should proof be requested.

Further changes are on the horizon, including introducing a visa waiver under the Electronic Travel Information and Authorisation Scheme (ETIAS).  This will apply to 30 European countries, including Spain.

According to the European Union Travel website, this is set to come into effect from mid-2025.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. Do remember to come back and check The Euro Weekly News website for all your up-to-date local and international news stories and remember, you can also follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

Written by

Donna Williams

Marketer, copywriter, storyteller and President of Samaritans in Spain. They say variety is the spice of life and I am definitely loving life!