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Question regarding Covid, Spanish border

ClintBallinger

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
2020. I used to live in Pamplona & did an archaeological dig in Roncesvalles, know many Camino towns
I am from the USA (USA passport) living in Australia. I am able to enter the Schengen area if I come from Australia (it is one of the 14 or so permitted countries right now).
I had thought to fly to Paris, then of course start from St Jean Pied de Port. I know there is usually no border check when crossing into Spain on the first leg, and bc I am coming from Australia/France, I should in theory be allowed to enter Spain. But I wanted to double check if they are checking passports or anything now - I am afraid a local border official might see the US passport and decline entry (as overall, the US is blocked from travel right now).
Similar question for entering Portugal after the Camino (I planned to fly out of Porto or Lisbon).
Random question I know, thanks for any input!
 

natefaith

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Sarria-Santiago (2009)
León-Ponferrada (2014)
Camino Inglés (2017)
Hi Clint and welcome to the Forum!

I'm not sure about actual border crossings on foot/ public transport within Schengen, but with just a US passport you very well may have trouble entering the Schengen area itself, unfortunately. (You don't have an Australian passport, correct?) My husband, Nate, and our son flew from Santiago (where we live) to Vienna a couple of weeks ago to visit friends. The Austrian military turned them away at the Vienna airport because of their US passports. They didn't even care that they had Spanish residency cards or that they were coming from Spain and hadn't been in America recently. So Nate and our son had to fly back to Santiago.

Our friends in Vienna called around and the authorities they spoke with said that the military should have allowed them in because of their Spanish residency cards, but in the moment there was no one for Nate to appeal to and the military was rushing them to book their return flights to Spain.

It may work out for you to enter Schengen *because* you're coming from Australia (although I just saw what @jungleboy posted above so you may want to confirm), but in our experience they may check your passport over and above where you're flying from.

Take care,
Faith
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
To Santiago and beyond (from home; Voie de Tours; Camino Francés; Biskaya; Manche; Via Brabantica)
Unless I am missing something here, you are not allowed to leave Australia
You probably missed what it says when you click on one of the links: Temporary visa holders do not need an exemption to depart Australia. They can leave at any time, as long as border restrictions in their home country allow them to return. In general, foreign residents can often leave their country of residence - the problems may start when they want to come back again.
Our friends in Vienna called around and the authorities they spoke with said that the military should have allowed them in because of their Spanish residency cards, but in the moment there was no one for Nate to appeal to and the military was rushing them to book their return flights to Spain.
This is shocking to read. So much ignorance and in an international airport such as Vienna! [see later post]
As to entering Schengen in connection with current Covid-19 travel restrictions: what counts is not the passport but the country of current residence. I would probably bring documentation such as my residency card or similar when coming from Australia as a US passport holder.
But I wanted to double check if they are checking passports or anything now - I am afraid a local border official might see the US passport and decline entry
I have no first hand knowledge. I've followed a few current blogs of people walking from SJPP to Roncesvalles. Not a single one said anything about temporary border controls still in place and I am 100% certain that people would have mentioned it because it would have been so exceptional. In any case, there are no border controls at the mountain pass and there have not been any such controls during the recent lockdown and other Covid-19 measures.

Given the current situation, there is always a possibility that quarantine measures or other measures restricting mobility (for ANYONE, independent of their passports or residency cards) will be put in place by Spain or by France and I see that as the only potential barrier to unrestricted movement on foot. At least in theory ...

Bon voyage and buen camino! And don't expect to meet many pilgrims this October and November ...
 
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ClintBallinger

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
2020. I used to live in Pamplona & did an archaeological dig in Roncesvalles, know many Camino towns
Hey everyone...thanks for the input! :) Walking in the rain at moment and on phone, still reading replies.
Jungleboy- you are correct ppl can't leave Australia now, even non Australian residents. However, I have obtained permission for other reasons. Thanks though :)
On some of the other replies (I only skimmed). I am almost sure whoever wrote that what matters is not passport but country of flight origin/residence is correct.
Anyway, I am also almost sure no one ever checks at the pass after Orisson. Just double checking.
My larger problem might be at the Portuguese border...(?)
 

ClintBallinger

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
2020. I used to live in Pamplona & did an archaeological dig in Roncesvalles, know many Camino towns
Hey everyone...thanks for the input! :) Walking in the rain at moment and on phone, still reading replies.
Jungleboy- you are correct ppl can't leave Australia now, even non Australian residents. However, I have obtained permission for other reasons. Thanks though :)
On some of the other replies (I only skimmed). I am almost sure whoever wrote that what matters is not passport but country of flight origin/residence is correct.
Anyway, I am also almost sure no one ever checks at the pass after Orisson. Just double checking.
My larger problem might be at the Portuguese border...(?)
By everything I have read I am technically "legal" ...guess what I was afraid of was something like the Vienna experience above.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
To Santiago and beyond (from home; Voie de Tours; Camino Francés; Biskaya; Manche; Via Brabantica)
By everything I have read I am technically "legal" ...guess what I was afraid of was something like the Vienna experience above.
OK, although you are not travelling to Austria, I found some information online that may help to understand what happened at Vienna airport and alleviate your fears concerning entry into Portugal from Spain. Viennaairport.com has this to say (translated from German and dated 24 August 2020):

Persons who enter Austria from one of the following states and have their residence or habitual abode [...] in one of these states may enter without restriction. For this purpose, the person entering Austria must provide credible evidence that he or she has not been in any other country other than [...] the aforementioned countries in the last 10 days. The following countries are currently on this list: [...] Spain (Canary Islands) [...].
For entry from all other countries into Austria, either a negative COVID-19 test (not older than 72 hours) or a 10-day quarantine must be presented. When entering Austria from the following COVID-19 risk areas, there is no free choice between test or quarantine - a negative COVID-19 test must be presented upon entry. This applies to entry from: [...] Spain (mainland and Balearic Islands) [...]

The current situation in the EU and in Schengen and in the UK is quite a mess: hugely different rules about the obligation to have undergone a test, to undergo a test, to quarantine for 5, 7, 10, or 14 days etc etc when crossing internal EU borders, and every other day one or two of these rules seems to get modified. To my knowledge, you will currently not encounter anything of this sort at the Spanish-Portuguese land border. I guess you will walk or travel by bus or train from Spain to Portugal?
 
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ClintBallinger

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
2020. I used to live in Pamplona & did an archaeological dig in Roncesvalles, know many Camino towns
Wow-
OK, although you are not travelling to Austria, I found some information online that may help to understand what happened at Vienna airport and alleviate your fears concerning entry into Portugal from Spain. Viennaairport.com has this to say (translated from German and dated 24 August 2020):

Persons who enter Austria from one of the following states and have their residence or habitual abode [...] in one of these states may enter without restriction. For this purpose, the person entering Austria must provide credible evidence that he or she has not been in any other country other than [...] the aforementioned countries in the last 10 days. The following countries are currently on this list: [...] Spain (Canary Islands) [...].
For entry from all other countries into Austria, either a negative COVID-19 test (not older than 72 hours) or a 10-day quarantine must be presented. When entering Austria from the following COVID-19 risk areas, there is no free choice between test or quarantine - a negative COVID-19 test must be presented upon entry. This applies to entry from: [...] Spain (mainland and Balearic Islands) [...]

The current situation in the EU and in Schengen and in the UK is quite a mess: hugely different rules about requirements for test, quarantine etc etc when crossing borders, and every other day one or two of these rules seems to get modified. To my knowledge, you will currently not encounter anything of this sort at the Spanish-Portuguese border.
Wow- thank you so much! All these details are what kept me from pulling the trigger on expensive tickets. You have been an immense help- wisdom of the crowds.
I still may have to decide "not this year", but at least not for the wrong reasons
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
To Santiago and beyond (from home; Voie de Tours; Camino Francés; Biskaya; Manche; Via Brabantica)
Our friends in Vienna called around and the authorities they spoke with said that the military should have allowed them in because of their Spanish residency cards, but in the moment there was no one for Nate to appeal to and the military was rushing them to book their return flights to Spain.
Just to clarify: I don't know what the situation was like when they travelled but the current situation is clear: If you are a US passport holder and fly directly from Santiago to Vienna, you have to present a negative PCR test that is not older than 3 days or 72 hours and you have to start to quarantine for 10 days in Austria. (Erfolgt eine Einreise nach Österreich durch Drittstaatsangehörige direkt aus einem EU-/Schengenstaat, so haben diese einen negativen PCR-Test (nicht älter als 3 Tage bzw. 72 Stunden) vorzuweisen und zusätzlich eine zehntägige Quarantäne anzutreten). This is because mainland Spain is currently considered by Austria as a region without a stable Covid-19 situation.

Although this is not directly relevant for this thread, which is about travelling between France, Spain and Portugal, I mention it to point out how different the situations can be when travelling within the EU and/or within the Schengen area. There are currently considerable differences between the entry conditions of the various EU or Schengen countries when travelling between these countries.

It is important to consult official sources and preferably as close to departure time as possible. Unfortunately, a lot of the up to date information is often only available online in the country's language and not always easy to find.
 
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domigee

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2020? Looks like.... nowhere! 😁
I can’t help with the passport question but I do know that anyone entering Spain at the moment is required to have filled in a ‘health form’. You can do it online and they give you a code you have to show if asked. .. I don’t know how they check it if you’re entering on foot though... 🤔
Here are the details:
 

natefaith

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Sarria-Santiago (2009)
León-Ponferrada (2014)
Camino Inglés (2017)
Just to clarify: I don't know what the situation was like when they travelled but the current situation is clear: If you are a US passport holder and fly directly from Santiago to Vienna, you have to present a negative PCR test that is not older than 3 days or 72 hours and you have to start to quarantine for 10 days in Austria. (Erfolgt eine Einreise nach Österreich durch Drittstaatsangehörige direkt aus einem EU-/Schengenstaat, so haben diese einen negativen PCR-Test (nicht älter als 3 Tage bzw. 72 Stunden) vorzuweisen und zusätzlich eine zehntägige Quarantäne anzutreten). This is because mainland Spain is currently considered by Austria as a region without a stable Covid-19 situation.

Although this is not directly relevant for this thread, which is about travelling between France, Spain and Portugal, I mention it to point out how different the situations can be when travelling within the EU and/or within the Schengen area. There are currently considerable differences between the entry conditions of the various EU or Schengen countries when travelling between these countries.

It is important to consult official sources and preferably as close to departure time as possible. Unfortunately, a lot of the up to date information is often only available online in the country's language and not always easy to find.
Thanks, Kathar1na. As always you are the queen of research! I had not heard of today's requirements, but when they travelled it was August 13 (I guess that was more than just a couple weeks ago!), and Austria had just implemented new rules on August 10 saying that travelers from Spain would need to present a Covid test taken within the last 72 hours OR take a test upon arrival at the airport. They could also choose to quarantine for 10 days if they didn't want to be tested (if my memory serves). Our Austrian friends confirmed that other Americans with European residency cards had landed and then taken the test at the Vienna airport, so Nate and our son decided to go that route. When they landed in Vienna, the military had formed their Covid checkpoint and Nate didn't even make it as far as border control. As soon as the military saw they had US passports and did NOT have negative Covid tests in hand, they denied them entry and wouldn't budget from that. There was no option to get tested at the airport, nor an option to quarantine for 10 days...the military just wanted them out of the country as soon as possible. They were very professional, but it was a solid no from the get-go.

All that to say....even after doing all the research and being as prepared as possible, having Spanish residency cards and not having been in America for over a year, and even after receiving reassurances from friends in the country and having those friends phone the authorities for us and be told that technically Nate and our son should have been allowed in....we learned you really cannot count on anything right now. Nate's motto now is, "Just don't mess with Covid." For us, it wasn't worth it :). We'll try again when things settle down.
 
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Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
To Santiago and beyond (from home; Voie de Tours; Camino Francés; Biskaya; Manche; Via Brabantica)
anyone entering Spain at the moment is required to have filled in a ‘health form’. You can do it online and they give you a code you have to show if asked. .. I don’t know how they check it if you’re entering on foot though... 🤔
Here are the details:
This is only for people who fly to Spain and arrive at an international airport in Spain. It is explained under the link. Click on the large question mark in the top right corner or watch the explanatory video clip. Pilgrims who walk from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Roncesvalles do not have to fill in this Spanish health form.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
To Santiago and beyond (from home; Voie de Tours; Camino Francés; Biskaya; Manche; Via Brabantica)
Austria had just implemented new rules on August 10 saying that travelers from Spain would need to present a Covid test taken within the last 72 hours OR take a test upon arrival at the airport
I am really sorry that this happened. I see on the website that Vienna airport does have a PCR test station on site and it grandiosely says that it's for "all passengers". Nowhere does it say that some groups of passengers may have to present the test upon entry. The rules change so quickly that it is tricky to stay up to date, especially when a country or a region is suddenly declared to be a risk zone by another country.

As I said already a few times: all this is currently a huge mess within the EU, every country does what they see fit and sometimes they look like a bunch of chicken running in all directions. I know that the EU administration is trying to bring some order into all this but it's not for today or tomorrow and won't help in this case as it happened in the past.

The lesson for anyone planning to travel to France, Spain or Portugal: check, check and then check again and check for your own specific situation (nationality, residency, travelling from where to where ...).
 

jgiesbrecht

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances Sept-Oct 2020
This is only for people who fly to Spain and arrive at an international airport in Spain. It is explained under the link. Click on the large question mark in the top right corner or watch the explanatory video clip. Pilgrims who walk from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Roncesvalles do not have to fill in this Spanish health form.
Wonderful, I was just hopping on to figure that part out, as i should arrive in a few days
 

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