Spain - General Information

Passports/Identification

If you or any member of your party is not a British Citizen or holds a non-British passport, you must check passport and visa requirements with the Embassy or Consulate of the country to or through which you are intending to travel. 

Please note it is a requirement in Spain to carry your passport at all times, and this must be produced immediately if requested by the police or judicial authorities.  You should be prepared to be accompanied by the police to collect your passport if this is not in your possession. Your passport is the only officially recognised form of identification in Spain. We also advise you to keep a photocopy of the data page of your passport in a safe place as this will be required to apply for a replacement passport if you lose your original.

Currency Information

The currency in Spain is the Euro, which is widely available in the UK.

Sterling cash and travellers cheques can be exchanged at hotels, banks and exchange offices in Spain. Major credit cards are accepted in hotels, larger shops and restaurants. We also recommend that you inform your bank/card company of your trip to  Spain, in order to avoid any problems when withdrawing cash from ATM’s; as a security method on your behalf, banks occasionally stop withdrawals in the event that they are being used fraudulently abroad.

Currency Restriction:

There are no restrictions on the import or export of local or foreign currency. However, amounts exceeding €10,000 or equivalent must be declared if travelling from or to a country outside the European Union

Means of Payment

When travelling outside of the UK, you should take more than one means of payment with you (cash, debit card, credit card). Make sure you have enough money to cover emergencies and any unexpected delays.

Duty Free

Spain is within the European Union. If you are travelling from the UK, you are entitled to buy fragrance, skincare, cosmetics, champagne, wine, selected spirits, fashion accessories, gifts and souvenirs – all at tax-free equivalent prices.

Free import with goods purchased in the EU for personal use for passengers aged 17 and older: Tobacco: 800 cigarettes; 400 cigarillos; 200 cigars; 1kg of smoking tobacco.

Alcoholic beverages: 10 litres of spirit over 22%; 20 litres of alcoholic beverages less than 22%; 90 litres of wine (no more than 60 litres of sparkling wine); 110 litres of beer.

If you are arriving from a non-EU country, the following goods may be imported into Spain by persons over 17 years of age without incurring customs duty: Tobacco: 200 cigarettes or 100 cigarillos or 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco.

Alcoholic beverages: 4L of wine, 1L of spirits or 2L of alcoholic beverages not exceeding 22% vol, 16 litres of beer (only for VAT and excise duty).

Other goods (including perfume, coffee, tea, electronic devices) of €430 for air and sea travellers; 300 for other travellers.

Please check these allowances prior to travel as they are subject to change.

Banned Imports:

Products of animal origin not from an EU-member are not permitted to be imported into Spain, with exception of limited amounts.

Firearms and ammunitions are prohibited unless you have obtained authorisation from the local police in Spain. For hunting firearms, temporary import is allowed without special authorisation, but they must be declared on arrival.

Banned Exports:

There are no restricted export items but there is a limit to the quantity of tobacco and alcoholic products you are exporting.

Tipping

Tipping has not been part of the British way of life but it is a common practice in most holiday destinations.  It is a way of saying thank you to someone who has given good service or for a job well done.  It is also an important source of income for people working in the tourism industry, whether it is the driver, local guide, hotel staff or in local bars and restaurants.  Your Tour Manager will be able to advise you of what an appropriate amount is and when to give it. 

Where meals are not included in your holiday price, there may be an additional 10-15% service charge added to your final bill.  If a service charge is not added to your bill then you may wish to leave a tip for the service that has been given.

Tips or gratuities are not included in the holiday cost and are totally at your discretion.

Climate & Clothing

Spain is a surprisingly mountainous country with one of the highest average altitude figures in Europe, so temperatures can vary greatly depending on altitude, latitude and time of year.

Spring, early summer and autumn are the best times for touring as it is generally warm everywhere.

In the winter months from mid November to the end of March it can be very cold, especially inland, and even in Andalucia. For Christmas tours to Spain you should take plenty of warm clothing.

As Spain is such a large country with such varying temperatures it is best to check weather forecasts yourself just prior to travel. Information is readily available on the internet.

Some areas of Spain suffer from mosquitoes during hot weather so it is advisable to take insect repellent with you just in case.

Comfortable shoes are a must as there can be a lot of walking involved on some excursions.

Food & Drink

Eating out in Spain is a joy. There is a huge choice available, from the smartest, sophisticated restaurants to the simplest of cafes and bars.

There is something for everyone whether you want a sandwich, snack, full meal or the very popular tapas, and often all these things can be had at the same eating place. Tapas are side plates of many types of fish, meat, eggs and vegetables prepared in a vast variety of ways.  Two or three tapas often make an ideal lunch, especially if you are having a full dinner later.

There are many local specialities but there are some dishes found throughout Spain such as ‘Serrano’ ham, similar to Parma ham, ‘Manchego’ cheese, made from sheep’s’ milk, and ‘Paella’, rice with fish or meat and vegetables.

Seafood appears on most menus in one form or another and all types of Atlantic and Mediterranean fish and shellfish (mariscos) are seasonally on offer.

Spaniards are also very fond of meat. Fish and meat are served in many different ways but usually with very little garnishing, just a few potatoes or chips and maybe a small amount of lettuce. Vegetables tend to be served as a dish on their own, e.g. peas with ham, green beans with ham or mushrooms, bean stew, chick peas etc.

Sweets in most places are fairly limited in Spain, the most popular being flan (crème caramel), ice cream, fresh fruit, and mousse.

Just about all bars, cafes and restaurants in Spain are licensed so you can always have a beer or wine even with a simple sandwich. Practically every region of Spain produces its own wine. Rioja is generally considered the best region. Spain also produces some good beers, mainly lager types of beer, and what we used to call ‘Spanish Champagne’, now called ‘Cava’, is also very popular.

Dinner is mainly served in the late evening in Spain, especially in the hot months, though of course many hotels catering for northern visitors will serve dinner earlier.

Voltage

The electricity supply is similar to the rest of Europe and 2-round pin sockets operate on 220 volts AC. 

Please note that travel electrical equipment such as kettles or irons should not be used in your hotel room as they can be a fire hazard.  In most Spanish hotels, rooms have hair driers.

Safety

Problems of pick-pocketing of handbags and passports can be common in Spain especially in the major cities, as in any major tourist destination.  We would warn you always to be careful of your personal belongings and take extra care with your passports. Where possible we would recommend that you do not carry extra cash/credit cards etc and these should be left in a hotel safe unless necessary. 

You should be particularly careful of handbags and wallets - where you need to carry money and documents it is advisable to use a money belt under your clothes rather than an exposed one.

Please note it is a requirement in Spain to carry your passport at all times, and this must be produced immediately if requested by the police or judicial authorities.  You should be prepared to be accompanied by the police to collect your passport if this is not in your possession. Your passport is the only officially recognised form of identification in Spain. We also advise you to keep a photocopy of the data page of your passport in a safe place as this will be required to apply for a replacement passport if you lose your original.

Immunisations

There are currently no compulsory vaccinations for travel to Spain however we strongly recommend that you consult with your General Practitioner or Practice Nurse who will assess your particular health risks before recommending vaccines. This is also a good opportunity to discuss important travel health issues including safe food and water, accidents and insect bites. Many of the problems experienced by travellers cannot be prevented by vaccinations and other preventive measures need to be taken.

Mosquito Advice

As you are travelling to a region where mosquitoes are present, we strongly recommend you are adequately prepared before you start your holiday.  While the risk of you becoming infected by a mosquito is extremely small, we would not want your holiday spoiled by a nasty bite or illness that is easily preventable with some simple pre-cautionary steps.

We therefore advise (subject to consultation with a qualified pharmacist or your doctor) you purchase high performance mosquito repellent before your trip and apply this regularly during your holiday, including when you go to bed.  We would also suggest that you take with you a ‘plug-in’ mosquito repellent device for your hotel room as an extra measure. These, along with DEET based repellents, are available from most pharmacies.

The National Advisory Committee on Malaria Prevention recommends using DEET based repellents with a concentration of over 20% as these give a longer duration of protection than other types currently available. Repellents with a concentration of 50% DEET have the longest duration of protection and require fewer applications per day. It is extremely important to re-apply throughout the day, particularly in hot or humid conditions or after swimming.  When both sunscreen and DEET are required, DEET should be applied afterwards.

Mosquitoes are active close to any open water, but their biting habits vary between species, so it’s best to assume you are at risk of being bitten at any time throughout the day or night. Remember to adequately cover your arms and legs – long trousers and sleeves are definitely a good idea. You can also spray your clothing with DEET products, but their effectiveness is shorter on clothing than on skin.

If you are bitten by a mosquito and develop a high fever for two consecutive days, you should seek urgent medical assistance.

Rabies The risk of rabies in travellers to Spain is low, however you should contact your GP around 8 weeks before you travel to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures.

All travellers should avoid contact with wild and domestic animals. Following an animal bite, scratch, or lick, wounds should be thoroughly washed with soap and water and urgent medical evaluation should be sought.

Travellers who have been bitten, scratched or licked by a dog in the areas of increased risk since 1 May 2013 should seek urgent medical assessment, either in Spain or on return to the UK (if their return is imminent), from their GP or NHS Direct/NHS 111 to assess the risk of rabies, even if the wound appears trivial.

Areas of increased risk for rabies are now considered to be:

A perimeter of 20-km radius around the city of Toledo, Region of Castilla-La Mancha;

The province of Huesca, Region of Aragón;

The provinces of Girona and Barcelona, including Barcelona city, Region of Catalonia.

We don’t recommend you rely on pharmacies in Spain having specific, prescribed medicines so please make sure to pack more than enough for the duration of your holiday.

Prescription medicines are normally required to be declared at check-in and your Tour Manager can help you with this if needed.

EHIC

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) allows you to get state-provided healthcare in all European Economic Area (EEA) countries and Switzerland at a reduced cost or sometimes free of charge.

In order for the EHIC to be accepted, you must attend a hospital or health centre that provides state healthcare. It is not accepted in a private hospital or clinic. Policy holders are under no obligation to provide insurance details in a state hospital or health centre. You have the right to insist that your EHIC is accepted for all necessary state-provided medical treatment. If you do not have your EHIC with you then you can call the Overseas Healthcare Team in Newcastle who will be able to provide you with a Provisional Replacement Certificate. They can be contacted on +44 191 218 1999.

Accommodation & Bathrooms

You will find that in some hotels in Spain there is not always uniformity of rooms, so size and shape may vary a great deal.  We cannot therefore guarantee that all rooms for our customers will be the same in each property. 

Please also note that Spanish hotels do not usually provide tea/coffee-making facilities in their rooms.

In some Spanish hotels you may find there is no shower curtain or screen, in which case please be extra careful in case of slippery floors. Bathmats are not always provided.

Please be aware there are often charges for Safety deposit boxes at Spanish hotels.

Tap Water

Tap water everywhere contains some bacteria and different minerals. You are used to the tap water back home but when you travel, the water is different and it may upset you. For this reason it is safer to drink the bottled water. It is safe to clean your teeth with tap water, but it is advisable to ask for drinks without ice.

Hand Sanitizers

It may be prudent to carry a hand sanitizer for use overseas, especially after handling money. 

Air Conditioning/Heating

In Spanish hotels which are equipped with air conditioning, the period in the season and times of day when it is operational are at the discretion of the management. The provision of central heating is also at the discretion of the management but in compliance with the current fuel saving requirements in Spain, this is normally limited to the period from Nov-March. 

Swimming Pools

Where hotels have their own swimming pools, you may wish to arrange to take your own towels, as some hotels do not provide these.  Always familiarise yourself with the depth of the pool before swimming.  Diving is not recommended.

Time Zones

Local time in Spain is 1 hour ahead of that in the UK throughout the year.

Coaches

Some coaches used on our European flight holidays may be equipped with WC and washbasin however this cannot be guaranteed.  In all cases, regular comfort stops will be made to ensure a relaxing journey.

Please note that smoking is not permitted on any of our coaches.

Extra Charges

Please note that payment for any extras such as drinks, laundry, telephone calls and meals other than those included in your tour price, must be made directly to your hotel prior to departure.

Lost Property

We will endeavour to trace any lost property and provide you with contact details in order that you may recover your property.

Shopping

Many of our tours take in local shops and markets and some will visit factory shops or outlets, selling a range of goods.  

However we cannot accept responsibility for the quality of the goods you have purchased or for any costs you may incur in having them delivered to your home address. 

Please ensure you have a clear understanding of the price you have agreed with the vendor and the conversion rate of local currency to sterling pounds, before signing for the sale either in cash or using your credit card.  Please exercise care when using your PIN number abroad making sure it is not visible to others. 

Spain – FCO Travel Advice Update

The FCO travel advice for Spain has been updated with an amendment to the Health section – rabies. The overall level of the advice has not changed. There are no travel restrictions in this advice.

Health

Contact your GP around 8 weeks before you travel to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures