Exercise normal safety precautions. Use common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour. Monitor the news and other sources for changes to local conditions.
- There is a threat of terrorist attack in Spain. In August 2017, 16 people were killed and many injured in vehicle attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils. Terrorists are likely to continue planning attacks targeting Spain. Be alert in public places such as shopping areas, places of worship, sporting venues, public transport, airports and other transport hubs, and places of mass gathering. See Safety and security.
- Spain's national terrorism alert is at level four of five ('high'). In response to the terrorist attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils in August 2017, the Spanish Government introduced heightened security measures in public places. This includes shopping areas, tourist sites, transportation hubs, and major events which attract large crowds. Take official warnings seriously and follow the advice of local authorities. See Safety and security.
- Petty crime is common, particularly in tourist areas and on public transport in large Spanish cities. Foreigners are also targeted by scams. See Safety and security.
- Following recent political developments, including elections held in Catalonia on 21 December 2017, demonstrations and large gatherings of people may continue in major cities, particularly in Barcelona and other parts of Catalonia. See Safety and security.
- Demonstrations and strikes affecting traffic and transport services can occur with little or no warning. Monitor local media, avoid demonstrations and be ready to adjust your travel plans as delays and cancellations are likely. Demonstrations sometimes result in clashes with police.
Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers.
Entry and exit
Spain is a part of the
Schengen area, along with a number of other European countries. This allows you to enter Spain without a visa in some circumstances.
In other circumstances, you'll need a visa. Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. Contact the nearest
Embassy or Consulate of Spain for up-to-date information.
Ensure you get a legible entry stamp in your passport when you enter the
Schengen area (including Spain). Some airlines have refused to allow passengers to board who were unable to provide proof of entry or have overstayed in the Schengen area.
Ensure your passport is valid for at least six months from the date you intend to return to Australia.
Carry copies of your passport's photograph page with you in case you're stopped by local authorities.
Be aware of attempts to get access to your passport by deception. If you're forced to hand over your passport, contact the Embassy for advice.
If your passport is lost or stolen, you must notify the Australian Government as soon as possible. You can either:
The currency of Spain is the Euro.
Declare cash of 10,000 Euros or more (or the equivalent in another currency) if you're travelling between Spain and any non-European Union (EU) country. This includes notes and coins, money orders, cheques and travellers cheques. If you fail to declare your cash or you give incorrect information on entry to, or exit from, Spain, you will be fined. You don't need to declare cash if you're travelling to or from another EU country.
Safety and security
There is a threat of terrorist attack. In August 2017, 16 people were killed and many injured in vehicle attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils. Terrorists are likely to continue planning attacks targeting Spain.
In response to the attacks in August 2017, the Spanish Government has introduced heightened security measures in public places, including shopping areas, tourist sites and transportation hubs, and at major events which attract large crowds.
Spain's national terrorism alert level is at four of five levels ('high'). It was raised in 2015 following terrorist attacks in several European cities and the disruption by European security services of a number of other planned attacks. Targets have included public transport and transport hubs, places of worship, sporting venues and places of mass gathering, including those frequented by foreigners.
A series of coordinated bomb attacks occurred on the Madrid commuter train system in March 2004, killing 192 people and injuring over 1400.
The Basque terrorist group ETA waged a terrorist campaign in Spain for five decades but disarmed in April 2017.
- In planning your activities, consider that could be terrorist targets and the level of security provided.
- Be alert in public places such as shopping areas, places of worship, sporting venues, public transport, airports and other transport hubs, and places of mass gathering.
- Report any suspicious activity or items to police.
- Monitor the news for any new or emerging threats.
- Take official warnings seriously and follow the instructions of local authorities.
- If there is an attack, leave the affected area immediately if it is safe to do so.
Terrorism threat worldwide
Civil unrest and political tension
Following recent political developments, including elections held in Catalonia in December 2017, demonstrations and large gatherings of people may continue in major cities, particularly in Barcelona and other parts of Catalonia.
Demonstrations and strikes can disrupt traffic and transport services, including air and rail. Some demonstrations held close to tourist areas in large cities have resulted in clashes with police.
- Avoid protest, demonstrations and strikes as they can turn violent.
- Monitor the local news and other sources for information on planned and possible unrest.
- Follow the advice of local authorities.
- Contact your travel agent or tour operator for information on your transport bookings and be ready to adjust your travel plans.
Petty crime, including bag snatching, pickpocketing and theft from cars, is common. Many thefts occur in restaurants and outdoor cafes where bags are often placed on the backs of chairs or on the ground. Thieves often target tourist attractions, public transport, railway stations, cruise terminals, museums, beaches, restaurants and hotel foyers, especially during the summer peak tourist season. Credit card and ATM fraud can occur.
Thieves often work in gangs and use various ploys to distract your attention. Examples include:
- A criminal uses a large map or offer of assistance to distract your attention, while an accomplice steals your belongings.
- Thieves posing as plain clothed police officers ask you for identification, and steal your money and credit cards. They can intimidate you into providing your PIN.
Thieves often target motorists, especially (though not only) along the Mediterranean coast from Marseille in France to Valencia in Spain. They convince you to pull over because of an apparent problem with your vehicle, or offer assistance to change a slashed or flat tyre. While one assists, the accomplice steals from the car. Cars with foreign number plates are often targeted. Thieves have also broken into caravans and motor homes, particularly in public parking areas.
Incidents of drink spiking, followed by theft and sexual assault, have been reported.
Protect yourself from crime.
- Pay close attention to your personal belongings, particularly in places frequented by tourists.
- Always keep your car doors locked, and keep luggage and personal possessions out of sight – when driving and when parked.
- Whenever you can, use a secure parking facility, especially overnight. Don't leave your vehicle unattended for long periods of time.
- When driving, be wary of requests for or offers of assistance, especially along the Mediterranean coast.
- Effectively secure your caravan/motor home against theft.
- Carry only what you need for the day. Leave other valuables, including your passport, in a secure location. Keep your passport and other identity documents separate from each other.
- Avoid wearing expensive watches, jewellery and cameras.
- Avoid ATMs that open onto the street, especially at night. Use ATMS in banks, shops and shopping centres.
- Avoid walking in quiet and poorly lit streets, especially at night.
- Don't accept drinks from strangers, or leave food or drinks unattended.
- Stick with people you trust in bars and nightclubs.
- Monitor local sources of information on crime.
Scams are common. Stay up-to-date with the latest scams to avoid becoming a victim.
There are a number of elaborate scam operations based in Spain. Inheritance and lottery scams are the most common. Inheritance scams typically involve receipt of a message, purporting to be from a lawyer in Spain, informing an Australian they have received a substantial inheritance from a previously unknown relative who died in Spain.
If you receive unexpected emails from Spain letting you know you have won a prize or money, look carefully into the claim before sending money or travelling to Spain.
If you have been a victim of a scam, don't travel to Spain to seek restitution. Instead, get legal advice.
Running of the bulls
The annual Running of the Bulls takes place in Pamplona in July. Participating in the Running of the Bulls is dangerous. Each year, a number of participants are seriously injured, and some have been killed.
Some people have been killed or seriously injured by jumping off fountains during the festivities in Pamplona.
Your travel insurance may not cover you if you participate in the Running of the Bulls, jump from fountains or take other risks. You're not covered by Medicare if you're overseas.
- Read about travel insurance.
- Carefully check the details of your insurance policy
- Don't do anything risky.
Since 2015, there have been significant pressures on border controls in Europe due to movements of asylum seekers. Carry your passport when crossing borders, even within the Schengen area. Monitor the news and check with transport providers for up-to-date information on entry and exit changes, and delays.
Some areas of Spain are popular party destinations. More information: Partying safely.
If travelling from Spain to Morocco, read the travel advice for Morocco.
Driving can be dangerous due to traffic congestion in urban areas, aggressive driving practices and excessive speed.
Ensure your vehicle is equipped with two red warning triangles and a reflective jacket, for use in an accident or breakdown. If your vehicle doesn't have these items, you can be fined. If you rent a vehicle get safety equipment. Ask the rental company about local traffic rules.
Road safety and driving.
Temporary restrictions sometimes apply to car use in Madrid on days when air pollution levels are high. Only cars with a number plate ending in an even number are allowed to be used on even dates, and cars with number plates ending in an odd number on odd dates. This applies within the city boundaries (the M30 inner ring road) between 6:30am and 9pm.
More information: 'Línea Madrid' citizen information and support line (in English) on 010 (from Madrid) or +34 915 298 210 (from outside Madrid).
You'll need both your Australian driver's licence and an International Driving Permit to legally drive.
The Australian Government doesn't provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See the
Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in Spain.
You're subject to local laws and penalties, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.
If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our
Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.
Penalties for drug offences include heavy fines and imprisonment.
Carrying or using drugs
Police officers may request to see identification (ID). Police can detain you at a police station until your identity is confirmed.
- Carry ID, such as your original driver's licence or a photocopy of your passport, at all times.
- Don't photograph military installations.
Some Australian criminal laws apply overseas. If you commit these offences, you can be prosecuted in Australia. Laws include those relating to:
- bribery of foreign public officials
- child pornography
- child sex tourism
- female genital mutilation
- forced marriage
- money laundering
Spain doesn't recognise dual nationality. This may limit the ability of the Australian Government to provide consular assistance to Australian-Spanish dual nationals who are arrested or detained.
Travel on your Australian passport at all times.
Take out comprehensive travel insurance before you depart to cover overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation.
Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government won't pay for your medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs. This can be very expensive and cost you many thousands of dollars upfront.
If you plan to 'run with the bulls' check beforehand whether your insurance will cover you.
- what circumstances and activities are and aren't covered under your policy
- that you're covered for the whole time you will be away.
Physical and mental health
Consider your physical and mental health before travelling, especially if you have an existing medical condition.
- At least eight weeks before you depart, see your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and implications for your health.
- Get vaccinated before you travel.
If you need counselling services while overseas, contact the Australian Consular Emergency Centre in Canberra on +61 2 6261 3305 and ask to speak to a Lifeline telephone counsellor.
Not all medications available over the counter or by prescription in Australia are available in other countries. Some may be illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.
Take prescription medicine with you so you remain in good health. Always carry a copy of your prescription or a letter from your doctor stating what the medicine is, how much you take and that it's for personal use only.
Before you leave Australia:
- check whether your medication is legal in each country you're travelling to
- get medical documents
authenticated by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade before you depart (if needed).
Health risks are similar to those in Australia. Monitor the news and other sources for any new health risks that may develop, and follow the advice of Spain's Ministry of Health.
The standard of medical facilities is high.
Where to get help
Depending on what you need, your best option may be to contact your family, friends, travel agent, travel insurance provider, employer or airline. Your travel insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.
- Firefighting and rescue services: 112
- Medical emergencies: 112
- Criminal issues, contact police: 112
Tourism services and products
For complaints relating to tourism services or products, contact your service provider directly.
Read the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas.
The Australian government has two offices in Spain: an Embassy in Madrid and a Consulate in Barcelona. The Embassy provides the full range of consular services described in the
Consular Services Charter. The Consulate, headed by an Honorary Consul, provides limited consular assistance to Australians in Barcelona.
Australian Embassy, Madrid
Level 24, Torre Espacio Building
Paseo de la Castellana, 259D
28046 Madrid, SPAIN
Telephone: +34 91 353 6600
Facsimile: +34 91 353 6692
Australian Consulate, Barcelona
Avinguda Diagonal, 433 Bis, First Floor, Door 2
08036 Barcelona SPAIN
Telephone/fax: (34) 93 362 3792
Embassy website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.
If you're unable to contact the Embassy (or Consulate, if in Barcelona) in a consular emergency, contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre in Canberra on +61 2 6261 3305, or 1300 555 135 within Australia.
Natural disasters, severe weather and climate
If there is a natural disaster, follow the advice of local authorities.
Spain experiences earthquakes but major quakes are rare. There is frequent seismic activity on the Canary Island of El Hierro. The risk level set by local authorities is Green (level one of three).
Spain experiences extreme storms from time to time, particularly along the northern coast and islands. Northern areas can be affected by heavy snows during the winter months.
Spain experiences forest fires, especially in the Summer months (June to August). In 2009, fires in several regions claimed lives and caused extensive property damage. The risk of fire is higher in rural areas. Strict penalties apply for any actions that could start a fire. If camping, ask the local authorities for advice on the fire danger and any fire restrictions.
If you're in an area affected by forest fires:
- follow the advice of local authorities, including evacuation orders
- contact friends and family in Australia with updates about your welfare and whereabouts
- monitor local media.