Simon Calder says current UK travel rules are a ‘mess’
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The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) issues updated advice for Britons who are looking to travel abroad or are currently overseas. On September 22, the FCDO made its most recent update to its travel advice pages for Spain.
Though Britons are able to visit Spain, the Canary and the Balearic Islands, rules vary depending on a person’s vaccination status.
Travellers are also warned they should be “prepared” for “plans to change” due to the ongoing uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic.
What are the latest travel rules for UK arrivals visiting Spain?
The FCDO states: “The Spanish government requires all arrivals to Spain from the UK to present on entry a pre-travel declaration form and one of the following: a negative COVID-19 test; or proof of vaccination.”
All passengers aged 12-years-old or above are included in the testing or vaccination rules.
The Spanish authorities will accept COVID-19 nucleic acid amplification tests including PCR, TMA, LAMP or NEAR tests.
This test must have been taken within 72 hours prior to arrival in Spain and show a negative result.
Fully-vaccinated travellers must have received their second dose of the vaccine 14 days before arriving in Spain with a jab authorised by the European Medicines Agency or the World Health Organisation.
Spain is currently accepting the UK’s COVID-19 vaccination record.
However, the FCDO warns: “Your NHS appointment card from vaccination centres is not designed to be used as proof of vaccination and should not be used to demonstrate your vaccine status.”
All passengers, including children under the age of 12, must also complete and sign an Online Health Control Form no more than 48 hours prior to travel.
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What are the latest travel rules for UK arrivals visiting the Canary or the Balearic Islands?
The same testing and vaccination rules apply for those visiting Spain’s archipelagos as those visiting mainland Spain.
Travellers will also be required to fill out a Spanish Online Health Control Form no more than 48 hours prior to travel.
Rules vary, though, for those who are flying to either of the archipelagos from mainland Spain.
The FCDO explains: “If you are travelling to the Canary or Balearic islands from mainland Spain, you may be required to present a negative COVID test depending on the region you are travelling from.
“You should refer to your travel operator and the local authorities in your final destination for guidance on domestic entry requirements.”
Some hotel and tourist accommodation providers may also require travellers to provide either evidence of a negative COVID-19 test taken within the 72 hours before arrival, a vaccination certificate, or having recovered from COVID-19 in the last six months.
These rules currently apply to most accommodation providers in the Canary Islands, according to the FCDO.
The FCDO adds: “Children under the age of 12 are exempt from testing. Tests permitted are PCR (RT-PCR for COVID-19), Transcription Mediated Amplification (TMA), and Antigen tests.
“You should check with your accommodation provider prior to travel.”
What are the rules for Britons returning to the UK?
The UK’s travel system is set to go through two major transitions in the coming month.
However, until October 4, the current traffic light system for travel applies.
Spain and its archipelagos are currently categorised as amber under this system.
This means that fully vaccinated arrivals are able to avoid quarantine upon entering the UK.
They must take a pre-departure test, as well as book and pay for a PCR test to be taken on day two of their arrival.
The reference code associated with this test must be included on the UK passenger locator form to be filled out prior to departure.
Unvaccinated travellers still face 10 days of mandatory quarantine on their arrival in the UK.
Along with a pre-departure and day two PCR test, they must also take a PCR test on day eight of their self-isolation period.
The details of these tests must be included on their passenger locator form.
From October 4, the amber and green lists will be streamlined into one list.
Pre-departure tests for fully vaccinated people flying into the UK will also be axed.
The Government has announced further plans to change specifications of the day two test for fully vaccinated passengers.
According to Gov.uk: “From the end of October, eligible fully vaccinated passengers and those with an approved vaccine from a select group of non-red countries will be able to replace their day two test with a cheaper lateral flow test, reducing the cost of tests on arrival into England.
“The Government wants to introduce this by the end of October, aiming to have it in place for when people return from half-term breaks.”
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