Tourist Information Guide

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

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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 test result certificate (the COVID travel certificate required for airline flights).

    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.


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

Each country has its own COVID-19 test requirements. Therefore you need to first check the latest entry regulations before you travel to any country. Each country has different requirements which could include any of the following:

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

Note that some destinations such as China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and Thailand request specific COVID test certificates. We recommend you to 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.

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

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

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 Thailand

You can also 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:

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

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.

    Some specific countries 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 the most commonly requested by local authorities to enter a country.

    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.


    COVID-19 antibody test (also referred to as IgM & IgG serology test)

    Antibody tests are recommended if you want to check your immune response to COVID-19 whether you had coronavirus, you want to check if you had it or you got vaccinated against COVID-19.

    Some people have had COVID-19 but do not even know that they have had the illness, or, perhaps they had flu-like symptoms but did not realise it was COVID-19. The antibody test will determine if you have had the coronavirus in the past but did not know it. This is a blood test to detect the two type of antibodies (or immunoglobulins) generated by the human immune system when presented with a virus: the IgM and the IgG. The IgM antibodies are generated in the first phases of the infection and the IgG are antibodies that recognize previous infections.

    The IgM and IgG antibodies are generated after the first week when you displayed the first symptoms and they are as their highest level between the second and third week after the appearance of the symptoms.

    COVID-19 PCR test + COVID-19 antibody test (also referred to as IgM & IgG serology test)

You can get your COVID-19 PCR test together with a COVID-19 antibody test to know if you have COVID now and if you have had COVID in the past.


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: it's the test centre that come 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 mean 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 possible be COVID positive.

3. There's 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) and the NAAT tests we recommend on this page meet the FIT-TO-FLY standards for travel, which means the travel certificate you’ll get is valid for aeroplane flights and any other transport means from one country to another. However you still must check with your country to see which of these COVID test types are accepted before you arrange to have your test.

If you're travelling to the UK, the official UK government website states that to travel to England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland the COVID-19 test you'll get must meet performance standards of ≥97% specificity, 80% sensitivity at viral loads above 100,000 copies m/l.

PCR tests, LAMP tests and antigen tests are accepted to enter England as long as they meet the specificity requirements above.

Our Insider Tip

If you book your PCR tests through the labs we have listed on this page they all provide tests certificates that are covered for "FIT-TO-FLY", meaning you can use these certificates for travel e.g. on a plane etc. However, 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' or 'fit for travel' specificity standards.

Therefore, if you choose not to follow our recommended labs to get your own COVID-19 test, and you travel to the UK it is extremely important that you make sure your COVID-19 test meets the UK government requirements as you may be denied boarding your flight to the UK if the test you got doesn't meet those standards.

The coronavirus tests we recommend on this page meet the UK government standards and are FIT-TO-FLY, meaning you can use these for aeroplane travel.

Note that as per the official UK government website  your test result certificate doesn't have to include the test specificity. However as the name of the test provider needs to be indicated our personal understanding is that UK authorities may check the test specifity of the test provider.


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 a RT-PCR test while other will mention you simply need a PCR test. You might wonder what is the difference between a RT-PCR and a PCR test. There is none. All PCR tests provided by the testing centres recommended 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 on it 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 we have recommended on our site. All PCR test certificates provided by the testing centres recommended on our pages are FIT-TO-FLY, which means valid for aeroplane flights and for any 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 certificate), 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, Sunday and are even open upon appointment outside usual 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 to 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 than for PCR or antigen test results in Spanish.

Our Insider Tip

If your home country 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 which labs 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 straight forward 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 certificate).

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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