Why Is the Government Making Testing for Travel More Difficult Than It Needs to Be?

A reader has got in touch to highlight the Government’s confusion over testing requirements for people travelling to Spain. Visitors must either show proof of vaccination (with two doses) or of a recent Covid test to be granted entry to the country. The reader hopes to travel to Spain with their 16 year-old child, ruling out the vaccine option. This is where they noticed an error on the Gov.uk website, which says:

[Arrivals must show] documentation issued within 48 hours prior to arrival in Spain, certifying that you have undertaken a Covid test, e.g. PCR, TMA, LAMP or NEAR, and tested negative. Antigen tests are not currently accepted. [Emphasis added]

The website tells readers to “see Spain Travel Health page for specific details regarding the documentation you must present to accredit your Covid test results and proof of vaccination”. But when you do this, you find that antigen tests are, in fact, accepted, so long as the providers are approved by the European Commission.

A number of the rapid antigen tests listed on the European Commission website are available in the U.K.

The reader even went to the trouble of contacting the Spanish health authorities to confirm that arrivals with proof of a negative result from an antigen test will be allowed entry. The response confirms that the information on the U.K. Government’s website is incorrect.

The diagnostic tests valid for travel to Spain are the NAAT (for instance, PCR, TMA or LAMP) and antigen tests, taken during the 48 hours prior to arrival in Spain.

So why is the Government telling Brits that proof of antigen testing is not accepted for travel, but that more time-consuming and, importantly, more expensive methods of testing are? The reader who contacted us seems to be on to something: “Our Government is doing everything it can to make life as awkward as possible for unvaccinated people.”

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