Tourist Information Guide

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

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Latest update: 06 September 2022

This page will cover a way of getting a free coronavirus test in Barcelona.

We will explain where you can get tested for free, the criteria you need to meet, the type of COVID-19 tests that you can get for free and the time needed to get your test results.

We will also explain when you should get a free COVID-19 test and when you should instead get tested in a private lab of Barcelona.

Free coronavirus test in the Public Health System of Barcelona

You can get tested for free in the public health system of Barcelona if you meet the following two criteria:

1. You must have COVID Symptoms which are defined by the Spanish health Ministry and any or all of the following: fever, cough or breathing difficulties. The doctors of Public Health system will only prescribe you a free COVID-19 test if you have COVID-19 symptoms and/or have been in close contact with an infected person. It will be considered that you’ve been in close contact with an infected person if you’ve been standing less than 2 metres away from that person during more than 15 minutes without wearing a mask and within 48 hours before you had the first COVID symptoms. If you don’t have COVID-19 symptoms and have not been in close contact with an infected person you won’t get a prescription for a free coronavirus test in the Public Health system.

2. You must be registered as a Spanish Resident and be registered with Spanish social security OR hold valid up to date European Health Insurance Card.

If you are a UK citizen, note that you won't be able to use your European Health Insurance Card after 31 December 2020. Therefore UK Citizens will need to arrange a test from a private clinic or private lab if they are not registered with the Spanish social security.

If you meet both points above you can receive a free public health COVID-19 test.
If you need to get a PCR test to travel, you shouldn’t go to the Public Health System but to a private lab.

Why you can’t get tested in the Public Health system to travel

  • The doctors of Public Health system will only prescribe you a free COVID-19 test if you have COVID-19 symptoms and/or have been in close contact with an infected person.

  • You won’t know when you’ll receive your coronavirus test results. With the Public Health system you might have to wait several days until you get an appointment with a doctor, until you get tested and until you get your COVID-19 test results.

  • You won’t be able to specify the type of COVID-19 test you want.

  • You’ll get your test results in Catalan. You will need to get them translated to English or any other accepted language by your country of destination if you need a negative COVID-19 test travel certificate.

COVID-19 test in a private lab of Barcelona

What are the benefits of getting a COVID test at a private lab in Barcelona:

1. You don’t need to be registered with the Spanish Social Security or to be a resident in Barcelona, anyone can get a COVID-19 test in a private lab: from locals to expats and tourists.

2. You’ll be able to book your coronavirus test in your own language: in English, Spanish and French. This is important because you may have specific questions and you can feel rest assured that you will have your questions answered to your satisfaction.

3. You’ll be able to choose the COVID-19 test you need: PCR test, antigen test, antibody test. Having the right COVID test and certificate is essential for travel.

4. You’ll be able to get tested whenever you want during the opening days and times of the labs. This is also very important because COVID test need to have a date no later than 72 hours before your arrival time at your destination to be valid.

Some private labs are open all day, even on Saturday and Sunday and some testing centers are also open 24 hours a day. It therefore gives you more flexibility, especially if you need to get tested on a specific day and time range to travel and get your test travel certificate before you take your flight.

5. Depending on the PCR test travel certificate delivery period you select, you’ll get your coronavirus test results within 2 to 48 hours, which you’ll be able to consult online.

6. If you need urgent PCR test results, some private labs offer the option to get your test results within 2 hours. Some testing centres deliver antigen test results within 15 minutes.

7. You’ll get your test results in English if you request them to be in English for travel purposes.

If you need a COVID-19 test for travel we recommend you to click on the button below:

If you're a tourist in Barcelona we recommend you check our pages below to learn more about how you can get a refund from your home country Health Insurance or Travel Insurance for your COVID test in Barcelona.

Where to get a medical prescription to have your PCR or antigen test expense covered by your Insurance Policy

French visitors: how to get a refund from the French Social Security for PCR tests undertaken in Barcelona


You can get a free COVID-19 test in Barcelona if you’re registered with the Spanish Social Security or have a European Health Insurance Card as long as you have COVID symptoms ad do not need the test results to travel. However, if you need to get a coronavirus test to travel, you should get tested in a private lab in Barcelona to be able to choose your COVID-19 test and get your test certificate in English within 2 to 48 hours.

Recent questions on how and where to get a free COVID test in Barcelona

Question: I am from the USA and I am a resident in Barcelona with a NIE. I have not been feeling well in the last few days, and I would like to get a COVID test, although I don't have COVID symptoms. Can I get a COVID test covered by the Public Health System as I am a resident here? I also have private insurance here, but I haven't received my card yet. Can I also get a test through my private insurance?

Answer: Having your Foreigner Identity Number doesn't mean you are registered with the Public Health System. You specifically need to register with the Public Health System to obtain your Individual Health Card, called “Tarjeta Sanitaria Individual” (TSI) in Spanish. You can find more information about how to obtain your Individual Health Card from the Public Health System on the dedicated page of the Catalan Government on obtaining the TSI .

If you have private insurance here, even if you haven't received your card yet, we recommend you contact your private insurance to check if COVID tests are covered and to make an appointment with a doctor to get medical advice if you're not feeling well.

Finally, you can purchase a COVID-19 rapid antigen self-test in a pharmacy and make your test at home. These self home tests, also referred to as over-the-counter self-tests, are cheaper than the COVID tests performed at medical centres by medical specialists to get a COVID test certificate valid for travel (and are not valid for travel). You can find more information about self-tests available at pharmacies in Barcelona on the dedicated page of the Catalan Government about rapid antigen testing in pharmacies. Note that rapid antigen tests in pharmacies are commonly referred to as TAR in Catalan and Spanish.

Comments or questions about COVID tests in Barcelona

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