Tourist Information Guide

Coronavirus Test in Barcelona: Essential Advice For Getting Tested for COVID-19

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Latest update: 06 September 2022

This page will walk you through all you need to know about getting a COVID test in Barcelona. We explain the following:

  • when to use a private or public clinic
  • what the different COVID tests are and their price and when you’ll get your FIT-TO-FLY, FIT-TO-CRUISE (FIT-TO-SAIL) or FIT-TO-TRAVEL test result certificate (the COVID certificates required to travel on planes, cruises, ferries, trains etc).

    We also provide links to a list of testing centres in Barcelona where you can book and get your antigen test, PCR test, and antibody or serology test. Whether you have COVID-19 symptoms or you just need to get a coronavirus test travel certificate or for any other personal reasons this page will cover all the questions you may have.

Should you get tested in the Public Health System or in a private clinic in Barcelona?

In Barcelona, you can get a COVID test in the Public Health System for free if you are a resident in Spain registered with the Spanish Social Security or have a European Health Insurance Card. However, you will only be entitled to a free COVID test from the Public Health System if you have COVID symptoms, not for travel purposes. You also have no say over what type of test you have.

If you need to get a COVID test for travel, you will need to get tested at a private testing centre in Barcelona. This page will cover all aspects of having a COVID test at a private clinic.


Our Insider Tip

Express COVID Testing For Cruise Ship Passengers
How to avoid queuing for your pre-boarding FIT-TO-CRUISE COVID test certificate

If you're embarking on a cruise ship from Barcelona, you will require a "FIT-TO-CRUISE" / "FIT-TO-SAIL" / "VeriFLY" COVID test before starting your cruise. The problem is that the queues for testing cruise passengers can be several hours long because thousands of passengers all need tests. The cruise appointed testing clinics typically work without an appointment. However, there is a solution. You can get a pre-boarding COVID test from an Express COVID testing centre geared up to test cruise ship passengers. With this service, you can avoid the long queues and get tested fast. The cruise specialist testing centre only works by appointment, which is how they can offer such a fast service. The Express COVID test centre set time slot quotas to ensure you get tested rapidly and will not accept further bookings once a time slot quota is reached. It is, therefore, important to book your COVID test well in advance. This testing centre issues COVID certificates that meet the specifications of any cruise ship entering Barcelona. You can feel confident you will have the right paperwork for boarding your cruise.The Express COVID testing service can issue cruise pre-boarding COVID certificates for the following cruises and many more:

AIDA, Azamara, Carnival, Celebrity, Costa, CroisiEurope, Cunard, Disney, Holland America, M/V Clio, MSC, Norwegian, Oceania, Ponant, Princess, Regent Seven Seas, Royal Caribbean, Sea Cloud, Seabourn, Silversea, Viking, Virgin Voyages and Windstar

When you arrive at the Express COVID testing centre, give the name of the cruise you will be embarking on so they can issue you the correct "FIT-TO-CRUISE" COVID certificate for your cruise. All certificates are also approved for the VeriFLY app. Follow the link below that explains three strategies to avoid the long queues for pre-cruise COVID testing.

Click to learn more about the express COVID testing service for cruise ship passengers



What are the different coronavirus tests available at private clinics and laboratories and which one should you choose?

Each country you fly to or each cruise has its own COVID-19 test requirements. Therefore, you need to check the latest entry regulations before travelling to any country and the latest test requirements for each cruise. Each country or cruise has different requirements, which could include any of the following:

1. Specific types of COVID tests, e.g. PCR test or antigen test (or both), other test types may also be required.

You can find the exact COVID test and travel requirements for over 30 destinations as well as the official COVID-19 websites where to double-check the information on the following page:

Flying to Europe and other countries worldwide

COVID-19 travel and test requirements to fly from Barcelona to over 30 destinations in Europe, Middle East, Asia, North and South Africa

Note that some destinations such as China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, and Thailand request specific COVID test certificates. We recommend you refer to our pages that explain the special COVID-19 test requirements for these countries and where we recommend test centres in Barcelona that can provide the special COVID test certificates needed. On these pages, we also provide you with links to the official COVID-19 websites for you to check the latest requirements for your destination.

Asia

COVID-19 travel and test requirements to fly from Barcelona to Japan

COVID-19 travel and test requirements to fly from Barcelona to Singapore

COVID-19 travel and test requirements to fly from Barcelona to Hong Kong

COVID-19 travel and test requirements to fly from Barcelona to China

COVID-19 travel and test requirements to fly from Barcelona to Thailand

FIT-TO-CRUISE travel certificate

You can find information on the cruises leaving Barcelona that require a COVID test by following the link below.

We have identified the cruise line operators that require a pre-boarding COVID test and listed them here:

Cruise liner companies that require a pre-boarding COVID test when boarding a cruise from Barcelona.

2. Specific number of hours before travel when you need to have your COVID test. This could either be a number of hours before you leave the country or the number of hours before you arrive in your destination. It is important to check the number of hours required to have had the COVID test before you journey otherwise your COVID test certificate may have expired by the time you arrive in your destination.

Below will find out what are the different COVID-19 tests available at private testing centres in Barcelona.


    COVID-19 antigen test, also referred to as rapid antigen test (Nasal swab test)

    Antigen tests are advised if you have COVID-19 symptoms or if you have been in contact with an infected person for more than 15 minutes or you have been at a distance less than 2 metres from an infected person in the past 3 days.

    Many countries now accept antigen test certificates, which are cheaper than PCR tests in Barcelona.

    A COVID-19 antigen test is made through nasal swabs or saliva samples to detect the presence of viral proteins, called antigens, that are expressed by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

    You should know that the antigens are expressed in the early or acute infection phases of the virus when the virus is actively replicating (reproducing).

    The antigen tests is also referred to as rapid antigen tests or quick antigen tests.


    COVID-19 PCR test (Nasal swab or saliva test)

    If you travel from Barcelona to another country, a PCR test travel certificate is commonly accepted by local authorities to enter a country. However note that many countries are also accepting antigen test certificates.

    A PCR test is a molecular diagnosis test made through nasal swabs or saliva samples to detect the presence of the virus SARS-CoV-2.


    COVID-19 NAAT test

    NAAT tests stand for Nucleic Acid Amplification Tests, and some countries accept NAAT tests.


Antigen and PCR tests at your accommodation in Barcelona and Catalonia

It is also possible for you to get tested at your accommodation in Barcelona or anywhere else in Catalonia. There is a testing centre located in Barcelona that offers at-home testing at your hotel, tourist apartment, home, etc. A qualified nurse will come to your place to perform your antigen or your PCR test. You can choose between a nasal or a saliva test.

Main advantages of getting tested at your accommodation:

1. You don't waste time going to a test centre: the test centre comes to your place. If you don't have a test centre right next to your accommodation, you will have to walk, take the public transport or a taxi to get to the testing centre and back. If you're on holiday in Barcelona or in Catalonia, you might prefer spending your holiday time visiting the city than going to a test centre.

2. You don't have to queue at a test centre to get tested. All the test centres recommended on our website work with appointments, which means you won't have to queue to get tested. However, if you decide to get tested at another laboratory of your own choice, you might have to queue to get tested. With the at-home COVID test service, a qualified nurse comes to your place at your desired appointment time. You also avoid contact with other people at the test centre that could possibly be COVID positive.

3. There are no language barrier issues. You book online in your own language. You also receive your appointment confirmation and confirmation voucher with everything you need to know for your COVID test in your own language. The qualified nurse that comes to your place speaks English and Spanish.

4. For groups, having your COVID test arranged at your hotel is much more convenient than if the whole group needs to travel to the test centre.

5. You get your COVID test results sent to your email as quickly as if you would get tested at a test centre.


FIT-TO-FLY COVID test result certificates?

The PCR tests, and the antigen tests (also referred to as rapid antigen tests or quick antigen tests) we recommend on this page meet the FIT-TO-FLY, FIT-TO-CRUISE / FIT-TO-SAIL and FIT-TO-TRAVEL standards for travel, which means the travel certificate you’ll get is valid for aeroplane flights, cruises, and any other transport means from one country to another. However you still must check with your country (or cruise liner) to see which of these COVID test types are accepted before you arrange to have your test.

Our Insider Tip

We´ve learned from travellers who contacted us that their hotel concierge recommended them cheaper test centres than those listed on our pages. These travellers followed the advice of their hotel but soon realized that the test certificates of these cheaper test centres were not valid to fly to their country of destination, or that the test certificates would not be sent to them on the initially announced time, which would make them miss their flight. These travellers also found out that the staff at these cheapest test centres couldn´t speak English, which made them feel unsecure about whether they would get the right test and the right test certificate for their flight. Finally, some of these cheaper test centres were only open on specific days and times, which is unconvenient when you´re busy visiting the city and when you need to get tested on a specific day and time. These cheaper test centres also work without appointments, which can result in long waiting times before getting tested. The test centres listed on our site are government certified testing centres for issuing travel certificates. They work with appointments so that you´re tested on your appointment time and do not waste holiday time waiting in a line. The staff at these testing centres also speak English. The COVID test certificates are delivered on time. In addition, the test centre near Sagrada Familia and the at home testing service can provide special certificates needed for specific destinations, EU Digital COVID certificates, and additional support services should you test positive. They will also confirm your appointment for your COVID test and reply to any questions you might have by email in your own language, in English, Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Italian, Dutch, Japanese, Chinese and Russian. If you decide to go to a lab which we have not listed on this page make sure first that the test meets the 'FIT-TO-FLY' "FIT-TO-CRUISE" or 'FIT-TO-TRAVEL specificity standards, that they can provide specific test certificates should you need one, that you´ll get your test certificate on time for your flight, cruise issued in English, etc.

If you choose not to follow our recommended labs to get your own COVID-19 test, it is extremely important amongst other things that we´ve listed above, that you make sure your COVID-19 test meets the requirements of your country of destination or the specific cruise ship you will be embarking on as you may be denied boarding your flight if the test you got doesn't meet the standards requested by the authorities of your country of destination.



EU Digital COVID Certificate for an antigen test or a PCR test done in Barcelona

You can get a EU Digital COVID Certificate for an antigen test or a PCR test done in Barcelona even if you're not a Spanish citizen or a Spanish resident by getting tested at a test centre that is accredited by the by the Catalan Health Entity -called Cat Salut- for EU Digital COVID Certificates.

For more information on how to get a EU Digital COVID Test Certificate for an antigen test or a PCR test done in Barcelona we recommend you visit the following page:

EU Digital COVID Certificate: what is it and how to get a EU Digital COVID Certificate for an antigen or a PCR test done in Barcelona


PCR test or RT-PCR - What's the difference?

Some countries, airlines or other official websites will mention on their travel requirements that you need an RT-PCR test, while others will say you need a PCR test. You might wonder about the difference between an RT-PCR and a PCR test. There is none. All PCR tests provided by the testing centres listed on our pages are RT-PCR tests, which stands for Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction, the laboratory technique used. Your PCR test certificate will mention both RT-PCR and PCR, so you don’t have to worry about your airline or transport company not seeing either of these terms on your certificate. We confirmed this with the diagnostic specialists at all the labs listed on our site. All PCR test certificates provided by the testing centres listed on our pages are FIT-TO-FLY, FIT-TO-CRUISE or FIT-TO-TRAVEL which means valid for aeroplane flights, Cruise ships, and any other means of transport from one country to another.

Prices of the COVID-19 tests and delivery period of the test results

The prices of the COVID-19 tests and the delivery period of the test results vary between the private clinics and laboratories of Barcelona. When clicking on the links below, you will find:

  • the price of the COVID-19 tests of the clinics and laboratories we recommend
  • their opening days and times
  • how quick you’ll get your test certificate
  • how you can book and get your test

For PCR tests:

Click to learn more about COVID-19 PCR nasal tests or PCR saliva tests in Barcelona

For antigen tests:

Click to learn more about COVID-19 antigen tests in Barcelona

For antibody serology tests:

Click to learn more about COVID-19 IgG & IgM antibody serology tests in Barcelona


If you need a negative coronavirus test travel certificate (FIT-TO-FLY, FIT-TO-CRUISE certificate etc), you will need to get tested between 48 to 72 hours prior to your departure or arrival in the country you aim to travel to. Remember you need to confirm if it is the number of hours before you leave or the number of hours before you arrive. Each country is different.

PCR test results are delivered within 2 hours to 48 hours maximum, depending on the testing centre and the price option you select from the links above. If you need an urgent PCR test result (undertaken in a short amount of time), we recommend you book your test at a testing centre that delivers urgent PCR test results in 2 or 3 hours or in 24 hours.

If your country of destination accepts rapid antigen test certificates, antigen test results are made available anything between 15 minutes after you got tested to 48 hours after you got tested, depending on the laboratory policies.

Click on the links above to view the results delivery time of different testing centres in Barcelona.

All testing centres are open from Monday to Friday. However, some of them are also open on Saturday and Sunday. They are even open upon appointment outside the usual normal opening hours: at night and very early in the morning, 7 days a week, from Monday to Sunday, 24 hours a day. We have checked each testing centre and presented the operating hours for each one.

The laboratories open during the weekends will also deliver test results during the weekend, while the laboratories that are closed on weekends will only deliver test results from Monday to Friday.

If you need to get tested on a Saturday or Sunday, or if you need to get your PCR or antigen test results on a Saturday or Sunday for travel, make sure to book your test for travel at the labs open on Saturdays or Sundays.

Click on the links below to view which testing centres are open during the weekends in Barcelona

PCR tests:
Click to view where you can get a PCR nasal test or a PCR saliva test in Barcelona during the weekend

Antigen tests:
Click to view where you can get an antigen test in Barcelona during the weekend

Again, we strongly recommend you to first check the entry regulations of the country you will be travelling to and your flight arrival time so that you get your PCR or antigen test done within the accepted time range and get your PCR or antigen test travel certificate before your flight.

You should carefully check the opening days and times of the Barcelona labs from the links above and the result delivery period before booking your test for travel.

Depending on the laboratory where you'll get tested, you will either be able to access your test results online on the website of the laboratory to download your test certificate, or you will receive your test results by email.


COVID-19 test certificates printed out or shown from a mobile phone?

We recommend you check if your country of destination accepts negative COVID test certificates shown from mobile phones or if you'll need to print your test results out. You should be able to find that information on the official government website of the country you travel to, and on the official website of the airport you travel to. To be on the safe side, it is worth printing a copy of your COVID test certificate. Most hotels in Barcelona provide a printing service. If you're not staying at a hotel, you should easily be able to find a shop in Barcelona that prints out documents. We recommend you bring a USB key with you to be able to easily print your COVID test certificate.


COVID-19 test certificates in English or Spanish?

COVID-19 test travel certificates are provided in Spanish unless you request the lab to provide them in English. If you require a PCR or antigen test travel certificate in English, make sure to request it at the lab. There is no extra cost to get the test results in English and the travel certificate delivery period is the same as for PCR or antigen test results in Spanish.

Our Insider Tip

If your home country's public or private health insurance covers COVID tests performed abroad, you will require an invoice, and you might also need a doctor's referral (also referred to as a "medical prescription") for your test in Barcelona in order to claim a refund on the test. We recommend you check with your insurance which are the supporting documents you'll need to send to claim a refund for your coronavirus-related expenses. We have indicated below testing centres that automatically issue an official VAT invoice along with a medical prescription for your COVID test at no extra cost. We have also indicated which labs do not provide a medical prescription and which labs can provide an invoice upon request.



How to get a COVID test in the Public Health System if you have COVID symptoms

If you have COVID symptoms and are registered with the Spanish Social Security or have a European Health Insurance Card, we recommend you check our page below:

How And Where To Get A Free COVID-19 Test in Barcelona

Summary

Booking a coronavirus test in Barcelona is a straightforward process. We recommend that you go with the private clinic for speed and to ensure you get the type of COVID-19 test that you need, e.g., for travel and your PCR or antigen test travel certificate (FIT-TO-FLY, FIT-TO-CRUISE, VeriFLY, FIT-TO-TRAVEL certificate etc).

If your question is for your own personal use only you may send your enquiry to us using the form below.

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