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Spain changes rules for UK passport holders at busiest airports

Hull Live logo Hull Live 28/06/2022 Milly Vincent & Neil Shaw

Spain’s Interior Ministry has eased passport control rules and UK citizens will now be able to use the EU e-gates at some airports. UK holidaymakers can now use automated border control e-gates to scan their passports in selected Spanish airports like citizens of EU and Schengen nations.

The measure is being brought in to ease the strain on airports ahead of peak holiday season, The Local reports. The airports implementing the new passport rules include Alicante, Barcelona, Bilbao, Girona, Gran Canaria, Ibiza, Lanzarote, Madrid, Málaga, Mallorca, Menorca, Valencia, Fuerteventura, Sevilla, and Tenerife Sur.

There will also be an additional 500 border officials across the airports. Spain has already seen 6.5 million UK tourists visit this year and expects to see a yearly total close to that of 2019 - 83.7m UK tourists, reports ChronicleLive.

Brits are warned that they will still be required to have their passport stamped at the border at some Spanish airports and there may be separate queues for UK citizens to get their passports stamped at a manned booth. Since Brexit came into effect in January of last year British tourists have had to join the non-EU passport queue to have their passports checked by a police officer and stamped.

Earlier this month Spain’s Iberia airline estimated that 15,000 travellers had missed a flight connection since March 1 due to passport control delays at the Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport, Irish Mirror reports. UK citizens are required to have their passport stamped on entering and leaving Schengen countries, such as Spain, without a visa. This is to show that their stay hasn’t exceeded their 90-day visa-free limit, the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) advice states.

The FCDO’s latest advice on travelling to Spain states: “Check your passport is stamped if you enter or exit the Schengen area through Spain as a visitor. Border guards will use passport stamps to check you’re complying with the 90-day visa-free limit for short stays in the Schengen area. If relevant entry or exit stamps are not in your passport, border guards will presume that you have overstayed your visa-free limit.

“You can show evidence of when and where you entered or exited the Schengen area, and ask the border guards to add this date and location in your passport. Examples of acceptable evidence include boarding passes and tickets.”

Brits entering Spain will also need to show their fully vaccinated Covid-19 status, a negative Covid-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to departure, or an antigen test taken within 24 hours of departure. Alternatively, they can show a medical certificate or recovery record to prove they've recovered from Covid in the past six-months.

Portugal has also made the decision to allow UK citizens to use their e-gates. The country brought in the measure in April. European Union countries have approved extending the use of Covid-19 certificates by one year until the end of June 2023 as cases of the deadly virus start to grow again ahead of the summer holiday season.

Aimed at facilitating travel across the 27-nation bloc during the pandemic, the certificates came into force in July last year and have been a successful tool to help EU citizens move in the region in coronavirus times without restrictions such as quarantines.

EU countries have issued nearly two billion certificates.

The document attests that a person has been vaccinated against coronavirus or that they have a recent negative test result or have recovered from the infection.

The European Council said the regulation can be lifted earlier. But after most EU countries removed coronavirus restrictions over the past months in light of the improved health situation, a recent increase in infections fuelled by new variants is leading governments to rethink their strategies.

In France, for instance, health minister Brigitte Bourguignon recommended this week that people should wear masks again in crowded areas and on public transport.

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