Tourist at Madrid airport

Information on Brexit for British tourists


Following 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.

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 have a visa 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?

You may continue to travel with your pets from 1 January 2021, though you will need the British health authorities to issue the corresponding animal health certificate, and you must also enter Spain at one of the airports or ports authorised to this effect.For dogs, cats and ferrets, a valid rabies vaccination certificate must be presented along with the animal health certificate. When returning to the United Kingdom, you will need to carry out the deworming treatment one to five days ahead of the trip.For more information, please see the page of the website of 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 will be six months running from the date you enter the country. For British citizens resident in Spain, this period runs from the date on which legal residence in the country was obtained. Once this six-month period has transpired, you will need 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 consult the on the website of the General Directorate of Traffic.

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