Passport and visa rules for Spain holidays

From Benidorm to Barcelona, Spain has so many incredible holiday destinations. Here’s everything British tourists need to know before a holiday in Spain this year.


British tourists don’t need a visa to holiday in Spain if they’re planning to stay there for fewer than 90 days in a 180 day period. Since Brexit, British tourists will need a visa if they want to work in Spain or stay longer than 90 days.

Under current rules, Britons will need to have their passport stamped when they enter and leave Spain or any other country within the Schengen Zone. This is so authorities can see how long tourists have stayed in the country.

Spain is part of the Schengen Zone, a group of 27 countries without border control at their mutual borders. British tourists can stay for 90 out of 180 days in the Schengen Zone, so any time spent in another Schengen country such as Germany or France would also count towards the 90 days.

The EU is planning to introduce a new electronic visa scheme for non-EU residents, including Britons, which would do away with the need for passport stamps. However, this has been delayed until 2024 so Britons will need their passport stamped this summer.


British tourists travelling to Spain or any other EU country, except Ireland, will need to follow the Schengen Area passport requirements.

Passports must be:

  • Issued less than 10 years before the date of entry to Spain
  • Valid for at least three months from the planned departure date from Spain

British tourists should check if their passport meets these requirements before travelling to Spain and will need to renew their passport if not. Passport Office workers are due to go on strike at the start of April for five weeks.

This could cause application delays so Britons should renew their passport as soon as possible if it is due to expire in the next few months. This is possible through the Government website with fast-track options available.

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British tourists do not need an international driving permit to drive in Spain for a period of up to six months. They will need to take their GB or Northern Ireland driving licence with them to drive abroad.

Drivers must be aged 18 or over and should always carry proof of ID and their driving licence while on the road in Spain. Vehicles registered in the UK will need to have a UK sticker if they’re being driven in Spain and the sticker must be visible at all times.

Tourist taxes

Many Spanish regions charge a tourist tax to visitors and the price of this varies depending on the area and type of accommodation used. Barcelona and the Balearic Islands are two areas with a tourist tax.

In each area, tourists staying in five star accommodation will pay the most while those camping or lodging in a hostel will pay the least. Cruise tourists usually also pay tax if their ship docks overnight in the city. This should be included in the price of the cruise.

Tourist taxes are usually included in the price of a package holiday or in the price of accommodation. This isn’t always the case and tourists may need to pay on arrival in a few cases.

The Valencia region of Spain is also planning to introduce a tax but officials in resorts such as Benidorm and Alicante have said they will not apply it.


In some areas of Spain, it’s illegal to wear a bikini or swimming trunks in the street. Being bare chested is also against the law in some areas. Tourists will need to bring a cover-up to the beach if they want to walk through the town.


Several popular resort areas have recently introduced restrictions on alcohol for tourists. In some areas of the Balearic islands, such as Magaluf, there are prohibitions on happy hours and open bars. There are also restrictions on booze cruises.

All-inclusive hotels may have a six drink limit for tourists in these areas and hotels are obliged to evict guests behaving dangerously on balconies. This rule follows several tragic balcony accidents involving British tourists in Spain.

Covid 19

Spain does not require proof of vaccination, a negative test result or a recovery certificate to enter from the UK. All tourists should follow the advice of local authorities while in Spain.

Face masks should be used in pharmacies, medical centres and care homes while tourists should also respect safety measures at individual businesses. Regional governments can tighten restrictions so tourists should make sure to check the rules in their destination before travel.


Most visits to Spain are trouble free but tourists should beware of pickpockets who may use distraction tactics to steal money or documents. Tourists should take extra care at the airport and public transport stations.

Personal attacks, such as sexual assaults, are rare but do occur. The British Government warns that these are “often carried out by other British nationals”. Tourists should report crime to the local police and ask for help from their holiday provider if needed.

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