Spain and Portugal: Border controls ‘lifted’ between nations – FCDO issues new advice

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Travellers hoping to cross the border between Spain and Portugal have, up until May 1, faced strict rules with non-essential travel banned. However, these “border controls” have since been lifted.

While Britons are currently unable to jet off abroad for leisure purposes, many UK citizens are currently in both nations for “essential reasons” or living abroad as expats.

From May 17, holidaymakers will be able to travel once again in line with the Government’s “traffic light system”.

While Spain is unlikely to welcome back travellers until June, many experts are already predicting Portugal will be on the UK’s “green list” and the nation has confirmed UK travellers will be allowed to enter.

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) has updated both its Spain and Portugal travel advice pages to offer insight into how rules and regulations in the countries could impact Britons.

The latest change explains “the withdrawal of border controls on the land border with Spain from May 1.”

For Portugal, the FCDO states: “At 12.01am on 1 May, border controls at the land border with Spain will be lifted.

“If you are transiting Spain having travelled from, or been in, South Africa, Brazil or an EU/EEA country where the COVID-19 incidence rate is 500 cases or more per 100,000 inhabitants, you will be required to self-isolate on arrival at home or at a place indicated by the Portuguese authorities.”

For Spain, the updated travel advice reads: “Spain’s land borders are open, however travel restrictions, border controls and testing requirements may be in place depending on the country you are travelling from.

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“Border controls at the Portugal land border with Spain lifted on 1 May at 12.01am.”

The lifting of land border regulations will be crucial for those transiting Spain to either access or leave Portugal.

However, travel restrictions apply to travellers entering both countries though these vary depending on the country of origin. For Spain, the FCDO explains: “Where permitted, transit times should be no more than 24 hours.

“Travellers must be able to present a negative PCR, TMA or LAMP test taken within no more than 72 hours prior to arrival into Spain.”

It continues: “Transit through Spanish airports to destinations outside the EU/Schengen area is currently permitted for flights departing or returning to the UK.

“Travellers must remain airside and be able to a present a negative PCR, TMA or LAMP test.

“Only citizens and residents of EU or Schengen associated states (including Andorra, Monaco, the Vatican City (Holy See), and San Marino) or holders of a long-stay visa issued by an EU or Schengen associated state may transit Spain to a destination inside the EU or a Schengen associated state, in order to travel to their place of habitual residence.”

Currently, those departing from the UK can not enter Spain unless for essential reasons or if they can prove they are a resident.

Meanwhile, for Portugal, the FCDO states: “You can travel to Portugal and the Azores if you are resident and returning home.

If you are travelling from: “The UK or any other non-EU/EEA country, or an EU/EEA country where the COVID-19 incidence rate is 150 cases or more per 100,000 inhabitants you can only enter for essential purposes, such as to live with immediate family members, or for professional, educational, health or humanitarian reasons.”

Though there has been no confirmation regarding which nations will be on the UK’s “green list”, travel expert and CEO of the PC Agency Paul Charles, Portugal could make the cut.

Manuel Lobo Antunes, Portugal’s ambassador to the UK, said UK holidaymakers could be able to visit the country next month.

He told Sky News the country is “hopeful from the middle of May, regular mobility between the UK and Portugal and vice versa can be established”.

Spain, however, is likely to remain “amber”.

Fernando Valdes Verelst, Spain’s tourism minister, previously said the nation was aiming to welcome back tourists from June.

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