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Information on Brexit for British tourists


After the start of the Brexit process in 2016, and now that the transitional period has ended as of 1 January 2021, the relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union is based on the “Trade and Cooperation Agreement".To implement the provisions of this Agreement at the national level, the Government of Spain approved a Royal Decree-law on 29 December 2020, with the aim of adequately protecting the interests of citizens and economic operators.The following Brexit transitional measure has been extended:-Access to healthcare for an additional six months from 1 January 2022 until 30 June 2022, in relation to Gibraltar.

Tourist flows at the airport

How is tourism affected by the end of the transition period?

The following information answers the main questions that may arise on the topic.

Do I need a visa to travel to Spain from the United Kingdom?

No. As of 1 January 2021, UK nationals remain exempt from the requirement to be in possession of visas when crossing the European Union's external borders for short-term stays (up to 90 days in any 180-day period). This visa exemption does not provide for the right to work in the Union and is subject to the reciprocity mechanism applicable to third countries.

Open border with the Spanish flag in the background

Will there be any border controls?

As of 1 January 2021, UK nationals travelling to the European Union and the Schengen area are treated as third-country nationals, and therefore subject to thorough checks at the Schengen area border. This means that intended stays in the territory of EU Member States cannot have a duration of more than 90 days in any 180-day period, and UK nationals will have to meet the entry conditions for third-country nationals.

Airport baggage control

What about travelling with pets?

From 1 January, if you are travelling with pets you will still be able to do so, but you will need to have an animal health certificate issued by the UK health authorities and you will have to enter through one of the authorised airports or ports of entry.In the case of dogs, cats and ferrets, a valid rabies vaccination must be presented in addition to the animal health certificate. For the return to Great Britain, it will be necessary to carry out deworming treatment between days 1 and 5 before the trip.For further information, please check the website for the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.

Pet in a pet travel bag

Will my British driving licence be recognised in Spain?

From 1 March 2022, driving licences issued by the UK authorities will be valid for driving in Spain for a period of six months. In the case of short trips or tourism, it shall be six months from the date of entry into the country. In the case of British citizens residing in Spain, the deadline is from the date on which legal residence in the country was obtained. At the end of the six-month period, it will be necessary to obtain a Spanish driving licence. British residents who did not apply for the exchange, renewal or extraordinary replacement of their driving licence before 31 December 2020 will have to apply for a new Spanish driving licence. For more information, please check the website for the Spanish Traffic Authority.

Tourist driving

Will I have access to the Spanish healthcare system?

Yes, the social security coordination protocol of the Trade and Cooperation agreement between the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community, for one part, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, for the other, envisages this health cover with the UK European Health Insurance Card (UK EHIC) or the UK Global Health Insurance Card (UK GHIC). Contact the British institution to find out which document supporting your rights you are going to be issued with.

Doctor reaching out a hand of support