Latest update: 27 August, 2021
Q: We would like to drive to Barcelona in Catalonia, Spain by car from France. Can we cross the border by car? Do we have to take a PCR test in France to travel to Spain and have a PCR test travel certificate or isn't it necessary?
Important DisclaimerBefore we start, we need to make this disclaimer. We take every step to ensure our information is accurate and up to date, however, changes occur rapidly, and we may not be aware of all updates to the COVID-19 regulations. We therefore advise you to cross-check our information against official government health websites before you take action. Please note, if you act on any of the information that we give, you agree to do so at your own risk.
A: The borders between France and Spain are open. The COVID-19 entry regulations to enter Spain are explained below.
There may be random police controls at the French and Spanish side of the border to check you have the following travel documentation:
The documents you need to travel from France to Barcelona by car are the following:
To enter Spain: Negative COVID test certificate, or vaccination certificate, or certificate of recovery or European Digital Covid Certificate
According to the Spain Travel Health website of the Spanish Health Ministry: from the 7 June 2021 all passengers arriving to Spain from a list of countries available on this this specific page of the Spanish Travel Health website that are qualified as being risk countries for Coronavirus, must present one of the following certificates to enter Spain:
1. A negative COVID test certificate for a COVID test taken within 48 hours of your arrival to Spain. COVID tests accepted: NAAT tests, e.g.: RT-PCR tests, RT-LAMP tests, TMA and rapid antigen tests.
2. Or a certificate that prooves you had a full COVID-19 vaccination 14 days before entering Spain with one of the vaccines authorized by the European Medicines Agency. The list of vaccines valid in Europe and to enter Spain can be found on the European Medicines Agency official website of the European Union. For 2 shots vaccine, the vaccination is considered as full or complete once the 2 shots have been administrated.
3. Or a certificate of immunity after having recovered from COVID-19. The certificate of recovery are valid from day 11 after your first positive NAAT test result and up to 180 days, which equalts to approximately 6 months.
Since the 1st of July 2021, the date on which the European Digital Covid Certificate entered into force in Europe, passengers arriving to Spain from any European country considered as a risk country for Coronavirus, can also enter Spain presenting their European Digital Covid Certificate or any of the 3 certificates mentioned above. The list of countries considered as a risk country to enter Spain is available on this specific page of the Spanish Travel Health.
Note that the European Digital Covid Certificate is also referred to as the Green Digital Certificate or as the European Green Digital Certificate. All these terms refer to the same European certificate.
The European Green Digital Certificate is simply a digital certificate that prooves that you have had a negative COVID test, or a full vaccination against COVID, or a certificate of recovery. So if you're an European citizen, you can either enter Spain with one of the 3 above-mentioned certificates or with your European Digital Covid Certificate. If you're a non-European citizen, you will need one of the 3 above-mentioned certificates to enter Spain.
The COVID certificates must be in English, French, German or Spanish. If your certificate is included in your European Digial Certificate then the language is not a problem as European Digital Covid Certificates are issued in the language of the country where it was issued and also in English. However, if you do not have a European Digital Covid Certificate and if your COVID certificate is not in one of the 4 above mentioned languages, it will need to be accompanied by a translation into Spanish made by an official translator.
You can find more information about the EU Digital Covid Certificate and COVID certificates needed to enter Spain on the Frequently Asked Questions page of the Spanish Health Ministry.
On this specific page of the Spanish Travel Health website, under the blue heading ‘RISK COUNTRIES / AREAS, you'll find the list in pdf format of EU countries and non EU countries, referred to as 'third countries' for which one of the 3 above-mentioned certificates or the European Digital Covid Certificate is needed to be able to enter Spain.
According to the Spain Travel Health website, children under 12 do no need to present any COVID certificate to enter Spain.
However, all passengers travelling to Spain by plane from any country will also need to fill out a Health Control Form for arrivals by air and present it upon arrival to any Spanish airport, including children and infants. All passengers arriving to spain by sea from any country, will need to fill out a Health Control Form for arrivals by sea.
In conclusion, if you’re arriving to Spain from one of the countries included in the above mentioned list of risk countries, you can enter Spain for any reason, including tourism, and you won’t need to justify the reason why you’re coming to Spain. You will need your usual travel documents and:
- your negative COVID test certificate, or your completed vaccination certificate, or your immunity certificate of revovery, or your European Digital Covid Certificate that includes any of these 3 certificates
- if you're arriving to a Spanish airport, your Health Control Form for arrivals by air
- if you're arriving to a Spanish port, your Health Control form for arrivals by sea
The documents you need to travel back from Barcelona to France by car are the following:
To enter France: Negative Covid test certificate or vaccination certificate or European Digital Covid Certificate
According to the France Diplomacy official website, and to the official website of the French Ministry of Interior, France requires travellers coming from Spain and Europe to present one of the following certificates:
1. A COVID-19 vaccination certificate that proves you have been fully vacccinated. For two-shot vaccines, your vaccination certificate will only be valid to enter France if you received your second shot at least 7 days before your arrival to France. For one-shot vaccines or if you already had COVID and only needed one shot of a two shot vaccine, your vaccination certificate will only be valid to enter France if you received your shot at least 7 days before your arrival to France. For one-shot vaccines (Johnson & Johnson) when you never had COVID, your vaccination certificate will only be valid to enter France if you received your shot at least 4 weeks before your arrival to France.
2. Since 18 July 2021, travellers entering France from Spain, must present a negative PCR or antigen test certificate of a test taken less than 24 hours before departure to France. This is not required for children under 11 years old.
Travellers to France coming from Portugal, Cyprus, Netherlands, Greece and the UK, must also present a negative PCR or antigen test certificate of a test taken less than 24 hours before departure.The time limit for PCR and antigen tests increases to 72 hours before departure for travellers to France coming from any other country.
If you are an European citizen you can either enter France with one of the two above mentioned certificates or with one of the two above-mentioned certificates included in your European Digital Covid Certificate, also referred to as European Green Digital Certificate.
Note that is it indicated on the French Government official website that while the EU Digital Covid Certificate provides a standardised recognition of travellers health status, each country is still responsible for its own entry rules, which are not standardised at European level and this means that you need to find out in advance about the entry rules in force in France or any other country you're travelling to. Therefore, this means that COVID certificates of recovery are not accepted to enter France, even if included on your European Digital Covid Certificate. Note that the page of the French Government official website where this is explained is only available in French, however once you're on the page, you can right click and select 'Translate to English' or to the language of your choice to get an automated translation of the content of the page.
In addition to having to present one of the two above-mentioned COVID certificates, you also need to fulfill a sworn statement stating that you did not have any COVID symptoms in the last 48 hours. You can find the sworn statement at the bottom of this page of the official website of the French Ministry of Interior.
If you need an antigen or PCR test travel certificate to travel back to France you can easily get tested in a private laboratory in Barcelona.
Note that if you're a French resident, since the 7 July 2021, you can only claim a refund to the French Social Security for a COVID PCR or antigen test taken in Barcelona if you have to get a test for medical reasons. Until the 6 July 2021, you could claim a refund for a COVID PCR or antigen test taken in Barcelona to travel back to France. You will find more information on this page: How to get a refund from French Social Security for PCR or antigen test undertaken in Barcelona for travel back to France.
If you want to know more about the COVID-19 requirements to travel between France and Barcelona and about the coronavirus situation in Barcelona, we recommend you read our articles below: