Property-related travel is now a ‘reasonable excuse’ to leave the UK, but not yet to enter Spain.
Since Monday, UK residents with property abroad, or looking to buy property abroad, have been given a ‘reasonable excuse’ to leave the UK without breaking Covid-19 rules and incurring a fine of £5,000 if caught. Now Spain has updated its rules for entering from the UK, and property-related business is not one of the exemptions on offer for the foreseeable future.
Since last December Spain has imposed strict restrictions on visitors from the UK, along with Brazil and South Africa (on the grounds of being Covid-19 hotspots), but these special restrictions expire today. Now the Spanish Government has published new rules at the website of its British consulate for visitors from the UK allowing visits by British family members of EU citizens, plus the following exemptions:
- a) residents of the EU, Schengen states, Andorra, the Vatican and San Marino who are travelling to their place of residence
- B) long term Spanish visa holders
- C) health care professionals and carers who travel for work
- D) transport workers
- E) diplomats, military and members of international organisations
- F) students with permission or Spanish visas and medical insurance
- G) highly qualified professionals in some justified cases
- H) people who are travelling for essential and justified family matters
- I) force majeure cases, necessary situations or humanitarian reasons
- J) residents of countries not affected by the restrictions, in some cases (see annex of the Orden)
In all cases the necessary documentation and health tests have to be in order.
I imagine you could try using the exemption H for emergency property-related matters like selling a home, but you might have to rely on the understanding of Spanish border officials, however thorough your paperwork. I wouldn’t want to risk that.
How long will these restrictions last?
The UK is Spain’s biggest source of tourists and property-buyers/owners from abroad, so these restrictions come at a higher cost to Spain than the UK.
Keeping these restrictions in force over the summer would be devastating to the Spanish economy, which has already suffered more than most European countries from Covid.
Other competitor destinations in the EU like Greece and France have already removed special restrictions on the UK, so it’s hard to see why Spain is keeping them in place, especially considering the success of the UK’s vaccination programme, which looks like it’s putting the UK in a better position than Spain.
How long these restrictions will last is anyone’s guess, but it’s safe to assume that the powerful tourism lobby will be pushing hard to get them lifted before the summer holiday season starts.
As the foreign travel advice page of gov.uk says about Spain, “The rules for entry may change with little warning.”