The Spanish government has introduced COVID-19 controls at airports for people travelling from China. Since 3 January, all passengers arriving in Spain by air from the People’s Republic of China have been required to undergo a health control at the first point of entry – including temperature control, documentary check and visual check on their condition – and also present an EU Digital COVID Certificate or equivalent.
At the end of December, Spain was one of the first countries in the world to introduce controls for travellers from China. Subsequently, EU member states met to discuss how best to coordinate the bloc’s COVID-19 travel measures. The meeting was held in the framework of the Integrated Political Crisis Response (IPCR).
In a statement following that meeting, the EU presidency (held by Sweden since the start of 2023) reported that member states had agreed on a coordinated precautionary approach, “especially considering the need for sufficient, reliable data and the easing of travel restrictions by China starting on 8 January 2023”.
The member states agreed to recommend that all passengers on flights to and from China wear a medical mask, or FFP2/N95/KN95 respirators, and to issue advice to incoming and outgoing international travellers coming from or destined for China, as well as to aircraft and airport personnel, regarding personal hygiene and health measures.
The IPCR also “strongly encouraged” member states to introduce, for all passengers departing from China, the requirement for a negative COVID-19 test taken not more than 48 hours prior to departure.
They were further encouraged to complement these measures with:
- Random testing of passengers arriving from China on arrival in member states, as appropriate, and the sequencing of all positive results to strengthen surveillance of the epidemiological situation.
- Testing and sequencing of wastewater from airports with international flights and aircraft arriving from China.
- Continuing to promote vaccine sharing and the uptake of vaccines, including booster doses, particularly among vulnerable groups.
Earlier, Spain had announced that the required EU Digital COVID Certificate or equivalent could be:
- A vaccination against COVID19 certificate
- A certificate of SARSCoV2 diagnostic test
- A COVID-19 recovery certificate
Passengers without a valid EU Digital COVID Certificate or equivalent must have a certificate of SARSCoV2 diagnostic test with a negative result. The admitted tests are:
- Molecular nucleic acid amplification tests (NAAT), whose sample has been obtained within 72 hours prior to departure.
- Rapid antigen detection tests, whose sample has been obtained within 24 hours prior to departure. The admitted tests are those authorised by the European Commission.
This certificate must be the original and be written in Spanish or English, and may be presented in paper or electronic form. If it is not possible to obtain it in these languages, the certificate must be accompanied by a translation into Spanish, made by an official body.
In addition to these requirements, all passengers arriving in Spain from the People’s Republic of China may be subjected to a diagnostic test for active infection at the point of entry and, if necessary, a medical assessment on epidemiological and clinical aspects of the passenger.
Children under 12 years of age and passengers who arrive in Spain in transit to other countries, provided they do not leave the airport environment, are exempt from complying with all these measures.
According to the ministry of health, the measures will remain in place until 15 February 2023, and only affect travellers on flights from mainland China – not Hong Kong and Macau.
Updated Information on COVID-19 vaccination and testing requirements for passengers arriving in Spain from China is available on the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office’s travel advice website.