Arrivals from Spain into the UK will need to prove a negative Coronavirus test

Coronavirus travel testing

For a couple of months international arrivals into Spain have needed to show a negative Coronavirus test less than 72 hours old. The new variant of the virus appears to have forced the hand of the UK government to do the same. The travel industry had been calling for this development for a long time as an alternative to quarantine. The type of acceptable test has not been specified.


It will mean that all travellers (bar exemptions listed below) between UK and Spain will need to arrange for 72 hours test results for both the outbound and inbounds legs of their journey, both showing negative.

The measures are expected to come into force early next week (w/c 11 January 2021), although a firm date has not been confirmed at the moment. The Government say the move is designed in part to minimise the chances of new Coronavirus strains entering the UK. The new rules will apply to arrivals by plane, boat and train. Failure to comply will result in an immediate £500 fine.

The regulations apply to both UK and non-UK residents. It will cover all countries including those with travel corridor status where arrivals exempted from the need to quarantine. Arrivals from ‘red list’ countries with high rates of COVID will still have to quarantine even if their test is negative.

There are a limited amount of traveller exemptions:

  • Children under 11
  • Hauliers
  • Cabin crew
  • Arrivals from countries without the infrastructure to facilitate testing
  • Arrivals from Ireland and the Common Travel Area

In a move designed to avoid delay or confusion upon arrival the Government, in the measures, says the negative test results needs to be proven at the point of departure.

There are a number of unanswered practical questions at the moment around logistics of getting a test in an overseas country, enforcement and cost. That said, this is move broadly welcomed by the travel industry and like many COVID initiatives, it will likely settle down following a period of bedding in.

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