Spain travel advice
Latest updates: The Health section was updated - travel health information (Public Health Agency of Canada)
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- Risk level
- Safety and security
- Entry and exit requirements
- Laws and culture
- Natural disasters and climate
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Spain - Take normal security precautions
Take normal security precautions in Spain.
Safety and security
Petty crime, such as pickpocketing and purse snatching, is common. It’s most prevalent in larger cities and particularly during holidays, festivals and weekends.
Thieves work alone or in groups and may use various techniques to distract you and steal your belongings, such as asking for directions or informing you of a stain on your clothes.
Individuals posing as plainclothes police officers may ask to see your passport, IDs or wallets. In this situation, politely ask to see their official identification badge to verify that the request is legitimate.
Thieves are especially active in crowded areas, such as:
- airports and public transportation facilities
- hotel lobbies
- restaurants, patios and outdoor cafés
- tourist attractions
In Madrid, thieves are particularly active in the following areas:
- Atocha train station
- Gran Vía
- Plaza Cibeles and Paseo del Prado
- Puerta del Sol area, Plaza Mayor and surrounding streets
- Retiro park
- the subway system
There has been a significant increase in stolen passports in the Barcelona region during the last few years.
In Barcelona, thieves are particularly active in the following areas:
- Barceloneta beach
- El-Prat airport and on the airport shuttle bus (the Aerobus)
- Güell park
- Las Ramblas, including in Internet cafés
- Passeig de Gràcia
- Plaça de Catalunya
- Plaça Reial and surrounding streets of the old city (Ciutat Vella
- Sagrada Família Basilica
- Sants train and bus station
- the subway system
While in Spain:
- ensure that your belongings, including your passport and other travel documents, are secure at all times
- carry a photocopy or digital copy of your passport identification page, driver’s licence, train or airline tickets and credit cards
- at the beach, bring only the essentials
- expect travel delays and additional expenses if your passport is stolen
- don’t leave luggage unattended at airport check-in or ticket counters, car rental desks or hotel lobbies
- avoid frequenting unlit areas
Violent crime is rare but does occur. Home burglaries happen in larger cities and coastal areas and sometimes affect homes or vacation rental apartments offered through online accommodation apps.
On the road
Thieves have been known to simulate or provoke road-related incidents, such as flat tires. When a motorist stops to help, the thieves steal the motorist’s car or belongings. The reverse scenario has also occurred, whereby a thief offers to help a motorist in distress and steals the motorist’s car or belongings.
In the event of a road-related incident, be extremely cautious about accepting help from anyone other than a uniformed officer from the National Police Corps or Civil Guard.
There is also a high threat of theft from rental and parked vehicles.
- Be particularly vigilant in service areas on coastal highways
- Use secure parking facilities
- Avoid leaving any luggage or valuables in the vehicle
- Always lock your doors and keep windows closed
Foreign Tourist Assistance Service
Several municipalities have dedicated police units for foreign tourists (SATE) and offer services in English and other languages.
You can also call the tourist hotline to file a police report with the assistance of a translator.
- Safety tips for tourists - Policía Nacional
- Foreign Tourist Assistance Service (SATE) in Madrid - Tourism Madrid
- Tourist Assistance Service in Barcelona (Ciutat Vella District) - Guàrdia Urbana de Barcelona
- Foreign Tourist Assistance Service (SATE) in Málaga - Tourism Málaga
- Hotline service to file a police report with a translator - Policía Nacional
Unsolicited emails offering enticing business or financial opportunities are most likely fraudulent.
These emails may involve the following scenarios:
- prizes won in the Spanish lottery (el Gordo)
- a friend or family member who appears to be in distress abroad
Never send funds to an unknown individual. Don’t travel to Spain to obtain restitution after losing money to a scam.
If you’re travelling to Spain to meet someone you’ve otherwise only met online, you may be the victim of a scam. Be wary of attempts at fraud by persons who profess friendship or romantic interest over the internet.
If you plan to buy a property or make other investments in Spain, seek legal advice in Canada and Spain. Do so before making commitments. Related disputes could take time and be costly to resolve.
Credit card and ATM fraud
Credit card and ATM fraud occurs.
When using debit or credit cards:
- pay careful attention if other people are handling your cards
- use ATMs located in public areas or inside a bank or business
- avoid using card readers with an irregular or unusual feature
- cover the keypad with one hand when entering your PIN
- check for any unauthorized transaction on your account statements
Spiked food and drinks
Never leave food or drinks unattended or in the care of strangers. Be wary of accepting snacks, beverages, gum or cigarettes from new acquaintances, as the items may contain drugs that could put you at risk of sexual assault and robbery.
Demonstrations and strikes
Demonstrations and strikes occur regularly. They also take place sporadically in Catalonia, including in Barcelona, in response to political events. Violent clashes between demonstrators and police have taken place.
Even peaceful demonstrations can turn violent at any time. They can also lead to traffic and public transportation disruptions, including access to roads, airports, and the railway and metro systems. Flight delays or cancellations, as well as disruptions at ports, are also possible.
- Avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place
- Follow the instructions of local authorities
- Monitor local media for information on ongoing demonstrations
- Be prepared to change your travel plans on short notice
There is a threat of terrorism in Europe. Terrorists have carried out attacks in several European cities. Terrorist attacks could occur at any time.
Targets could include:
- government buildings, including schools
- places of worship
- airports and other transportation hubs and networks
- public areas such as tourist attractions, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, shopping centres, markets, hotels and other sites frequented by foreigners
Always be aware of your surroundings when in public places. Be particularly vigilant if attending sporting events and during religious holidays and other public celebrations, as terrorists have used such occasions to mount attacks.
The Spanish government maintains a public alert system on terrorism and communicates threat level changes online and through local media. The current level is set to 4 (high) on a scale of 1 to 5.
Terrorism threat level - Spanish Ministry of the Interior (in Spanish)
Swimming and water activities
Coastal waters can be dangerous. Always obey warning flags at beaches, lakes and rivers.
The main warning flags used in Spain are:
- Green: calm waters, swimming is allowed
- Yellow: agitated waters, swimming with precautions is recommended
- Red: dangerous waters, swimming or entering the water is forbidden
- Black: contaminated waters, avoid swimming
In marine areas, coral, jellyfish and other ocean life found along reefs can poison, sting or cause infection if touched or stepped on.
- Ask local authorities about the presence of such species and whether they are dangerous
- Immediately seek medical assistance if you get hurt
In the fall and winter months, be cautious when walking along beaches close to the water’s edge as waves can be unpredictable in size and may come onto shore further than expected.
- Don’t visit beaches or coastal areas during periods of severe weather warnings
- Look out for signs warning of cliff erosion and falling rocks
- Don’t dive into unknown waters, as hidden rocks or shallow depths can cause serious injury or death
- Exercise caution and follow the advice of the local authorities
If you intend to do mountaineering or skiing:
- never do so alone and always hire an experienced guide from a reputable company
- buy travel insurance that includes helicopter rescue and medical evacuation
- ensure that your physical condition is good enough to meet the challenges of your activity
- ensure that you’re adequately equipped and well informed about weather and other conditions that may pose a hazard
- inform a family member or friend of your itinerary, including when you expect to be back
- know the symptoms of acute altitude sickness, which can be fatal
- obtain detailed information on trekking routes or ski slopes before setting out and do not venture off marked trails or slopes
Road conditions and road safety can vary throughout the country. Some drivers are aggressive and drive at excessive speeds.
Travellers may experience delays crossing between Spain and Gibraltar due to increased border controls.
- Be sure you are prepared for lengthy delays
- Plan for an adequate supply of fuel, food, and water
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
Entry and exit requirements
Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Government of Canada cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements.
We have obtained the information on this page from the Spanish authorities. It can, however, change at any time.
Verify this information with the Foreign Representatives in Canada.
Spain is a Schengen area country. Canadian citizens do not need a visa for travel to countries within the Schengen area. However, visa-free travel only applies to stays of up to 90 days in any 180-day period. Stays are cumulative and include visits to any Schengen area country.
If you plan to stay in the Schengen area for a longer period of time, you will need a visa. You must contact the high commission or embassy of the country or countries you are travelling to and obtain the appropriate visa(s) prior to travel.
Entry requirements vary depending on the type of passport you use for travel.
Before you travel, check with your transportation company about passport requirements. Its rules on passport validity may be more stringent than the country’s entry rules.
Regular Canadian passport
Your passport must be valid for at least 3 months beyond the date you expect to leave the Schengen area.
Passport for official travel
Different entry rules may apply.
Passport with “X” gender identifier
While the Government of Canada issues passports with an “X” gender identifier, it cannot guarantee your entry or transit through other countries. You might face entry restrictions in countries that do not recognize the “X” gender identifier. Before you leave, check with the closest foreign representative for your destination.
Other travel documents
Different entry rules may apply when travelling with a temporary passport or an emergency travel document. Before you leave, check with the closest foreign representative for your destination.
Tourist visa: not required for stays up to 90 days in any 180-day period
Business visa: not required
Student visa: required
Other entry requirements
Customs officials may ask you to show them a return or onward ticket and proof of sufficient funds to cover your stay.
Children and travel
Learn more about travelling with children.
Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).
This section contains information on possible health risks and restrictions regularly found or ongoing in the destination. Follow this advice to lower your risk of becoming ill while travelling. Not all risks are listed below.
Consult a health care professional or visit a travel health clinic preferably 6 weeks before you travel to get personalized health advice and recommendations.
Some of these vaccinations include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, varicella (chickenpox), influenza and others.
Pre-travel vaccines and medications
You may be at risk for preventable diseases while travelling in this destination. Talk to a travel health professional about which medications or vaccines may be right for you, based on your destination and itinerary.
Yellow Fever - Country Entry Requirements
Yellow fever is a disease caused by a flavivirus from the bite of an infected mosquito.
Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.
- There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
- Proof of vaccination is not required to enter this country.
- Vaccination is not recommended.
* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease. It can spread quickly from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air..
Anyone who is not protected against measles is at risk of being infected with it when travelling internationally.
Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are fully protected against measles.
Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious viral disease. It can spread from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air.
It is recommended that all eligible travellers complete a COVID-19 vaccine series along with any additional recommended doses in Canada before travelling. Evidence shows that vaccines are very effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. While vaccination provides better protection against serious illness, you may still be at risk of infection from the virus that causes COVID-19. Anyone who has not completed a vaccine series is at increased risk of being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 and is at greater risk for severe disease when travelling internationally.
For destination entry and exit requirements, including for COVID-19 vaccination requirements, please check the Entry/exit requirements section.
Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are adequately protected against COVID-19.
Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Get the flu shot.
Safe food and water precautions
Many illnesses can be caused by eating food or drinking beverages contaminated by bacteria, parasites, toxins, or viruses, or by swimming or bathing in contaminated water.
- Learn more about food and water precautions to take to avoid getting sick by visiting our eat and drink safely abroad page. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
- Avoid getting water into your eyes, mouth or nose when swimming or participating in activities in freshwater (streams, canals, lakes), particularly after flooding or heavy rain. Water may look clean but could still be polluted or contaminated.
- Avoid inhaling or swallowing water while bathing, showering, or swimming in pools or hot tubs.
Insect bite prevention
Many diseases are spread by the bites of infected insects such as mosquitoes, ticks, fleas or flies. When travelling to areas where infected insects may be present:
- Use insect repellent (bug spray) on exposed skin
- Cover up with light-coloured, loose clothes made of tightly woven materials such as nylon or polyester
- Minimize exposure to insects
- Use mosquito netting when sleeping outdoors or in buildings that are not fully enclosed
To learn more about how you can reduce your risk of infection and disease caused by bites, both at home and abroad, visit our insect bite prevention page.
Find out what types of insects are present where you’re travelling, when they’re most active, and the symptoms of the diseases they spread.
- In this country, risk of dengue is sporadic. It is a viral disease spread to humans by mosquito bites.
- Dengue can cause flu-like symptoms. In some cases, it can lead to severe dengue, which can be fatal.
- The level of risk of dengue changes seasonally, and varies from year to year. The level of risk also varies between regions in a country and can depend on the elevation in the region.
- Mosquitoes carrying dengue typically bite during the daytime, particularly around sunrise and sunset.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against dengue fever.
Some infections, such as rabies and influenza, can be shared between humans and animals. Certain types of activities may put you at higher risk of contact with animals, such as travelling in rural or forested areas, camping, hiking, and visiting wet markets (places where live animals are slaughtered and sold) or caves.
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, livestock (pigs, cows), monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats, and to avoid eating undercooked wild game.
Closely supervise children, as they’re more likely to come in contact with animals.
Stay home if you’re sick and practise proper cough and sneeze etiquette, which includes coughing or sneezing into a tissue or the bend of your arm, not your hand. Reduce your risk of colds, the flu and other illnesses by:
- washing your hands often
- avoiding or limiting the amount of time spent in closed spaces, crowded places, or at large-scale events (concerts, sporting events, rallies)
- avoiding close physical contact with people who may be showing symptoms of illness
Medical services and facilities
Health care is excellent. Service is available throughout the country but may be limited in certain rural areas.
Private healthcare is also widely available. Upfront payment may be required.
Make sure you get travel insurance that includes coverage for medical evacuation and hospital stays.
Keep in Mind...
The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.
Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.
Laws and culture
You must abide by local laws.
Learn about what you should do and how we can help if you are arrested or detained abroad.
Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons
Canada and Spain are signatories to the Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons. This enables a Canadian imprisoned in Spain to request a transfer to a Canadian prison to complete a sentence. The transfer requires the agreement of both Canadian and Spanish authorities. This process can take a long time, and there is no guarantee that the transfer will be approved by either or both sides.
Local authorities may ask you to show ID at any time. You must carry an adequate ID, such as a passport, to show upon request. You could be detained until you can prove your identity.
Keep a photocopy or digital copy of your passport’s photo page in a safe place should your passport be lost or seized.
In Spain, foreign visitors must present a passport upon check-in at a hotel. Restaurants, hotels, shops and other such establishments also routinely request passports or other pieces of government-issued photo identification, such as a driver’s licence, to process credit card transactions.
- Don’t leave your passport or any other ID document with anyone
- Wait until they have taken the details or made a copy of it and have given the document back to you
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences or heavy fines.
In several autonomous regions and municipalities, including Madrid, Barcelona and the Balearic Islands, alcohol consumption in the street is prohibited. If you don’t comply, you could be fined.
It is illegal to photograph military installations.
Some municipalities, including Barcelona, have banned beachwear outside of local beaches, including on beachfront promenades.
If caught, you could face on-the-spot fines.
It is illegal in certain municipalities to buy counterfeit merchandise from street vendors, such as sunglasses or purses.
Local authorities may impose heavy fines on tourists caught buying counterfeit merchandise.
Dual citizenship is not legally recognized in Spain.
If local authorities consider you a citizen of Spain, they may refuse to grant you access to Canadian consular services. This will prevent us from providing you with those services.
International Child Abduction
The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is an international treaty. It can help parents with the return of children who have been removed to or retained in certain countries in violation of custody rights. The convention applies between Canada and Spain.
If your child was wrongfully taken to, or is being held in Spain, and if the applicable conditions are met, you may apply for the return of your child to the Spanish court.
If you are in this situation:
- act as quickly as you can
- contact the Central Authority for your province or territory of residence for information on starting an application under The Hague Convention
- consult a lawyer in Canada and in Spain to explore all the legal options for the return of your child
- report the situation to the nearest Canadian government office abroad or to the Vulnerable Children’s Consular Unit at Global Affairs Canada by calling the Emergency Watch and Response Centre
If your child was removed from a country other than Canada, consult a lawyer to determine if The Hague Convention applies.
Be aware that Canadian consular officials cannot interfere in private legal matters or in another country’s judicial affairs.
- List of Canadian Central Authorities for the Hague Convention
- International Child Abduction: A Guidebook for Left-Behind Parents
- Travelling with children
- The Hague Convention - Hague Conference on Private International Law
- Canadian embassies and consulates by destination
- Emergency Watch and Response Centre
You can drive in Spain with your valid Canadian driver’s licence and an international driving permit for up to 6 months. For stays longer than 6 months, you must obtain a local driver’s licence.
Vehicles must be equipped for emergency situations. You must carry the following items:
- 2 red warning triangles, of which one must be placed in front of the vehicle and one behind in case of accident or breakdown
- a reflective jacket, kept inside the car (not in the trunk), that you must wear when leaving a vehicle stranded or involved in a highway accident
- a spare tire and a repair kit
- a full set of spare light bulbs, plus the tools to change them
- snow chains if travelling in adverse winter conditions
You may be subject to on-the-spot fines if you fail to comply with these laws.
Certain cities have put in place low-emission or zero-emission zones (Zona de Bajas Emisiones [ZBE] and Area Central Cero Emisiones [ACCE]) to reduce air pollution. Access to these zones is restricted, and speed limits are lowered.
You may need to obtain a permit to prove that your vehicle responds to environmental standards.
- Driving in Spain - European Commission
- Obtaining a Spanish licence - General Traffic Directorate (in Spanish)
- More about the International Driving Permit
The currency of Spain is the euro (EUR).
If you are carrying €10,000 or more, or the equivalent in other currencies, you must make a declaration to customs when you enter or leave the European Union. It includes sums in:
- banknotes and coins
- bearer negotiable instruments such as cheques, travellers’ cheques, promissory notes and money orders
- bonds, shares
- gold coins with a gold content of at least 90 %
- gold bars, nuggets or clumps with a gold content of at least 99.5 %
- any other convertible asset
This does not apply if you are travelling within the European Union or in transit to a non-EU country.
EU cash controls - European Commission
Natural disasters and climate
Torrential rainfall and storms are common during the fall on the Mediterranean coast, particularly in the Valencian Community and the Balearic Islands.
Winter storms and heavy snowfall may also occur, particularly in northern and mountainous areas.
Latest weather warnings - Spanish government’s meteorological agency
High temperatures create dry conditions, which can lead to large fires throughout Spain, particularly during summer. Fires can lead to railway and road closures, including major highways, and affect air traffic.
The air quality in areas near active fires may deteriorate due to heavy smoke and affect travellers with respiratory ailments.
In case of a major fire:
- avoid areas affected by active wildfires
- follow the instructions of local emergency services personnel, including any evacuation orders
- monitor local media sources for up-to-date information
Civil protection - Spanish Ministry of the Interior (in Spanish)
The weather in mountainous areas can be unpredictable. If you plan a mountain or skiing holiday, stay informed of the latest weather and safety conditions.
Hazardous winter conditions, such as heavy snowfall, blizzards and freezing temperatures, may put pilgrims at risk on the French route of St. James Way (“Camino de Santiago”). As a result, between November 1 and March 31, the East access through Navarra via Lepoeder is closed.
Follow signage and take the West route (Luzaide/Valcarlos) during this period.
Dial 112 for emergency assistance.
A hotline service to file a police report with a translator is available from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays.
Dial 902 102 112
The service is not available on weekends and public holidays.
Hotline service to file a police report with a translator - Policía Nacional
Madrid - Embassy of Canada
Spain, Andorra, and Canary IslandsAppointment Book your appointment online
Barcelona - Consulate of Canada
Málaga - Consulate of Canada
For emergency consular assistance, call the Embassy of Canada in Madrid and follow the instructions. At any time, you may also contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.
The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. We take the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provide credible and timely information in our Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad.
The content on this page is provided for information only. While we make every effort to give you correct information, it is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, expressed or implied. The Government of Canada does not assume responsibility and will not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided.
If you need consular assistance while abroad, we will make every effort to help you. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
Learn more about consular services.
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