Toggle Menu SearchSearch

Spain

smartraveller.gov.au smartraveller.gov.au

Summary

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 can become violent. See Safety and security.
  • Spain experiences forest fires, especially in the Summer months (June to August), and in rural areas. In the event of a fire monitor local media and follow instructions of local authorities (see Natural disasters).

Entry and exit

Visas

Spain is a part of the Schengen area, along with a number of other European countries. This allows you to enter 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.

More information: Schengen Convention

Other formalities

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.

Passport

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.

Money

The currency 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

Terrorism

There is a threat of terrorist attack. In August 2017, 16 people were killed and many injured in vehicle attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils.

In response to the attacks, 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.

Terrorists are likely to continue planning attacks targeting Spain. The 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.

  • In planning your activities, think about places 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.
  • 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. 

More information: Terrorism threat worldwide

 

Civil unrest and political tension

Due to the political situation in Catalonia, 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.

Crime

Petty crime, including bag snatching, pickpocketing and theft from cars, is common, especially in large cities. 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 help, especially along the Mediterranean coast.
  • 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 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.
  • Stick with people you trust in bars and nightclubs.
  • Monitor local sources of information on crime.

Scams

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. The email advises you 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. Instead, get legal advice.

More information: Scams

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.

Local travel

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 you are travelling to Morocco, read our travel advice for Morocco.

Road travel

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.

More information: 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).

Driver's licence

You'll need both your Australian driver's licence and an International Driving Permit to legally drive. If you dirve without an IDP, you may be fined and your car impounded.

Air travel

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.

More information: Air travel

Laws

Local laws

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.

Drug laws

Penalties for drug offences include heavy fines and imprisonment.

More information: Carrying or using drugs

Other laws

Police officers may ask to see identification (ID). Police can detain you at a police station until your identity is confirmed.

  • Always carry ID, such as your original driver's licence or a photocopy of your passport.
  • Don't photograph military installations.

Australian laws

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
  • terrorism.

Dual nationals

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.

Always travel on your Australian passport.

More information: Dual nationals

Health

Travel insurance

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.

Confirm:

  • what circumstances and activities are and aren't covered under your policy
  • that you're covered for the whole time you will be away.

More information: Travel insurance

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.

More information:

Medication

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.

You can't mail or courier medication from Australia to Spain.

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).

More information: Prescription medicines

Health risks

Health risks are similar to those in Australia. Monitor the news and other sources for new health risks. Follow the advice of Spain's Ministry of Health.

Medical facilities

The standard of medical facilities is high.

Natural disasters

If there is a natural disaster, follow the advice of local authorities.

Earthquakes

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).

More information:

Severe weather

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.

Forest fires

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.

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.

Emergency phone numbers

  • 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.

Australian Government

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
Website: spain.embassy.gov.au
Facebook: Embajada de Australia en España, Andorra y Guinea Ecuatorial
Twitter: @AusEmbEsp

Australian Consulate, Barcelona
Avinguda Diagonal, 433 Bis, First Floor, Door 2
08036 Barcelona SPAIN
Telephone/fax: (34) 93 362 3792
Email: ausconbcn@gmail.com

Check the 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.

Additional information

Additional resources