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Spain is one of the world's most popular countries for tourism: It
provides the traveler a choice
of numerous world-class attractions. Spain has been a buffer zone between
Europe and Africa throughout much of history and has benefited from its
unique combination of cultures. Its history is classic study in
confrontation between religions and much of the country continues to bear
the imprint of its interesting history
- Spain offer sun drenched beaches, marvelous cities, interesting
countryside, and a well preserved history. If you choose to visit, you
will be surrounded by unique culture, icons of Christian and Moslem
history, art, and a warm and friendly people. In addition, Spain is
a country that provides wonderful locations for vacations focused on rest
and relaxation. Curiously, Spain's cuisine is not among the best.
Oh, you will find a lot to eat, but, probably, will not "eat well".
- Spain is a terrific destination
- ThereArePlaces recommended destinations in Spain can be found at
Spain: Best Places To Visit.
- Additional information on travel to Spain can be found at the
country's official tourism website
Additional information on Spain may be obtained from the Tourist Office of
Spain, telephone (212) 265-8822. The website
of the Spanish Embassy in the United States is
- When planning your travel, be sure to review the
Travel Planning Guides for insights on
how to "travel well" and "travel safe".
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Spain shares the worldwide threat of
Spain and Andorra share with the rest of the
world an increased threat of international terrorist incidents. Like
other countries in the Schengen area, Spain's open borders with its
Western European neighbors allow the possibility of terrorist groups
entering and exiting the country with anonymity. Spain’s proximity to
North Africa makes it vulnerable to attack from al-Qa’ida terrorists in
the Maghreb region. We remind U.S. citizens to remain vigilant with
regard to their personal security and to exercise caution.
In the deadliest terrorist attack in recent
European history, in March 2004, Islamist extremists bombed four
commuter trains entering Madrid, causing 191 deaths and over 1,400
injuries. Spanish authorities tried the suspected terrorists and their
co-conspirators in February 2007 and they were convicted in October
The Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA)
terrorist organization remains active in Spain. Although ETA, in
September 2010, publicly indicated that that it will no longer conduct
“offensive attacks” and that it is willing to explore international
mediation to the Basque conflict, the group has not specifically
declared a ceasefire, renounced violence, or laid down its arms. ETA has
not publicly addressed whether it will cease to conduct extortion or
theft. ETA has historically avoided targeting foreigners, instead
directing their attacks against the police, military, local politicians,
and Spanish government targets as well as towards disrupting
transportation and daily life.
However, foreigners have been killed or injured
collaterally in ETA attacks. Two examples of this are the Barajas
Airport bombing in December 2006, in which two Ecuadorian nationals were
killed, and the bombing at the University of Navarre in October 2008, in
which 17 students were injured, including one American student. In
addition, bombs have been used as part of criminal extortion of
businesses, particularly in the Basque region. The risk of being in the
wrong place at the wrong time in event of an ETA action is a concern for
foreign visitors and tourists.
U.S. tourists traveling to Spain should remain
vigilant, exercise caution, monitor local developments, and avoid
demonstrations and other potentially violent situations. Bombings in
Burgos and Palma de Mallorca in August 2009 highlight this need.
No health or specific travel warnings are in effect at this time. Before you depart, always
check with the Department of State and
to insure that these conditions have not changed. In
Foreign & Commonwealth Office
of the British Government provides excellent travel advisories.
- The State Department's Overseas Citizens Services call center at
1-888-407-4747 can answer general inquiries on safety and security
overseas. This number is available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern
Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Callers who
are unable to use toll-free numbers, such as those calling from
overseas, may obtain information and assistance during these hours by
you have an emergency in Spain, call 112. 112 is a European Economic
Community initiative to provide a one telephone number contact for
ambulance services, the police, the fire service, air and sea rescue and
other emergency services available within a specific country (such as
mountain patrol). The 112-telephone number is designed for use in
emergencies only. Calls are answered in Spanish and in English, French,
or German in tourist regions. Direct numbers are: 191 for police,
061 for an ambulance, and 080 to report a fire.
- The U.S. Embassy in Madrid, Spain, is located at Serrano 75;
telephone (34)(91) 587-2240, and fax (34)(91) 587-2303. U.S. citizens
who register in the Consular Section at the U.S. Embassy, Consulate
General, or one of the Consular Agency listed below can obtain updated
information on travel and security within Spain or Andorra. Additional
information is available through the U.S. Embassy’s Internet homepage at
- When planning your travel, be sure to review the
Travel Planning Guides for insights on
how to "travel well" and "travel safe".
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A passport is required for entry to Spain, but a visa is not required for tourist
or business stays up to 90 days
(that period begins when entering any of
the following countries which are parties to the Schengen agreement:
Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece,
Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway,
Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia Spain, and
American citizens planning to study in Spain should be aware that
Spanish immigration regulations require applications for student visas
to be submitted 60 days before anticipated travel to Spain.
you do not have a passport, see our article on the
Outs of Passports. Other
important travel documents, including visas are covered in our
Information Guide on Passport, Visas, Customs.
Individuals who enter Spain without a
visa are not authorized to work. American citizens planning to study in
Spain should be aware that Spanish immigration regulations require
applications for student visas to be submitted 60 days before anticipated
travel to Spain.
Beginning January 1, 2011, individuals wishing to stay in Spain for
six months or more must present FBI criminal record check documents at
Spanish consular sections in the United States in order to apply for
visas to Spain. Until December 31, 2010, individuals wishing to visit
Spain for six months or more can present either their state criminal
record checks (as in the past) or an FBI criminal record check. Both
types of documents must be apostilled: by the state authority for state
criminal records and by the Department of State for the FBI records.
For further information concerning entry requirements for Spain,
travelers should contact the Embassy of Spain at 2375 Pennsylvania
Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. 20037, telephone (202) 452 01 00, or the
nearest Spanish consulate in Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles,
Miami, New Orleans, New York, San Francisco, or San Juan. Additional
information about entry requirements
can be found at the
Embassy of Spain’s website. Additional information can be found on
Spanish government website or obtained from the
Tourist Office of Spain which has offices in
several U.S. cities.
In an effort to prevent
international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures
at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence
of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parents or
legal guardian not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not
required, may facilitate entry/departure
In addition to being subject
to all Spanish laws affecting U.S. citizens, dual nationals may also be
subject to other laws that impose special obligations on their citizens. In some
instances, dual nationality may hamper U.S. Government efforts to provide
protection abroad. For additional information, please see the State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet home page at
http://travel.state.gov for an
dual nationality issues.
U.S. citizens who are also citizens of
any other nation are reminded that U.S. law requires they enter and
depart the United States documented as U.S. citizens.
Avoiding Petty Theft
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Before you travel,
read our articles on Pickpockets, Con Artists, and ATM safety in the
Information Guide on Personal Safety for travelers.
While most of Spain has a moderate rate of crime
and most of the estimated one million U.S. citizen tourists have
trouble-free visits to Spain each year, street crimes against tourists
occur in the principal tourist areas. Madrid and Barcelona, in
particular, report incidents of pick-pocketing, mugging, and occasional
violent attacks, some of which require the victim to seek medical
- Although crimes occur at all times
of day and night and to people of all ages, older tourists, and Asian
Americans seem to be particularly at risk.
- Criminals frequent tourist
areas and major attractions such as museums, monuments, restaurants,
outdoor cafes, Internet cafes, hotel lobbies, beach resorts, city buses,
subways, trains, train stations, airports, and ATM machines.
- In Barcelona, the largest number of incidents reported also occurred
in major tourist areas, on Las Ramblas, Barcelona’s El Prat airport,
Sants train station, and Metro stations, in the Sagrada Familia Area, in
the Gothic Quarter, in Parc Güell, in Plaza Real, and along Barcelona’s
beaches. There has been a rise in the number of thefts reported at the
Port Olimpic Area and nearby beaches
- In Madrid, incidents have been reported in all major tourist areas,
including the area near the Prado Museum, near Atocha train station, in
Retiro Park, in areas of old Madrid including near the Royal Palace and
in Plaza Mayor. There has been an increase in the number of passport and
bag thefts reported at Madrid’s Barajas Airport, as well as in El Rastro,
Madrid’s flea market and in the Metro.
Travelers should remain alert to their personal security and exercise
- travelers are encouraged to carry limited cash, only one credit
card, and a copy of their passport; leaving extra cash, extra credit
cards, passports and personal documents in a safe location. When carrying
documents, credit cards, or cash, you are encouraged to secure them in a
hard-to-reach place and not to carry all valuables together in a purse or
- Thieves often work in teams or pairs. In most cases, one person distracts
a victim while the accomplice performs the robbery.
- For example, someone
might wave a map in your face and ask for directions or “inadvertently”
spill something on you. While your attention is diverted, an accomplice
makes off with the valuables.
- Thieves may drop coins or keys at your feet
to distract you and try to take your belongings while you are trying to
- Attacks are sometimes initiated from behind, with the victim being
grabbed around the neck and choked by one assailant while others rifle
through or grab the belongings.
- A group of assailants may surround the
victim in a crowded popular tourist area or on public transportation, and
only after the group has departed does the person discover he/she has been
- Purse-snatchers may grab purses or wallets and run away, or
immediately pass the stolen item to an accomplice. A passenger on a
passing motorcycle sometimes robs pedestrians.
- There have been several reports of thieves posing as plainclothes
police officers sometimes beckoning to pedestrians from cars and
sometimes confronting them on the street and asking for documents or to
inspect their cash for counterfeit bills, which they ultimately
"confiscate" as evidence.
- The U.S. Embassy in Madrid has received several reports of cars on
limited access motorways being pulled over by supposed unmarked police
- The Spanish police do not operate in this fashion. American citizens
are encouraged to ask for a uniformed law enforcement officer if
- Tourists are encouraged to deal
with uniformed law enforcement personnel only.
- Theft from vehicles is also common. Items high in value like luggage,
cameras, laptop computers, or briefcases are often stolen from cars.
- Travelers are advised not to leave valuables in parked cars, and to keep
doors locked, windows rolled up, and valuables out of sight when driving.
- Good Samaritan" scams are unfortunately common. In these
situations a passing car or
“helpful” stranger will attempt to divert the driver’s attention by
indicating there is a flat tire or mechanical problem.
- When the driver
stops to check the vehicle, the “Good Samaritan” will appear to help the
driver and passengers while the accomplice steals from the unlocked car.
- Drivers should be cautious about accepting help from anyone other than a
uniformed Spanish police officer or Civil Guard.
- While the incidence of sexual assault is statistically very low, attacks
- Spanish authorities have warned of the availability and use of so-called
"date-rape" drugs and other drugs, including "GBH" and liquid ecstasy
on unsuspecting tourists.
- Do not lower your personal security awareness because they
are on vacation.
- A number of American citizens have been victims of lottery or advance fee
scams in which a person is lured to Spain to finalize a financial
- Often the victims are initially contacted via internet or fax
and informed they have won the Spanish Lottery (El Gordo), inherited money
from a distant relative, or are needed to assist in a major financial
transaction from one country to another.
- Avoid these types of invitations. If it sounds too good to
be true, it usually is a scam.
The loss or theft
abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local
police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of
any crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please
contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance.
If you are the
victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local
police, contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate for assistance. The
embassy/consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate
medical care, to contact family members of friends, and explain how funds
could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution for the
crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers
can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find
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1. It is unclear whether Spain's
recall of its troops from Iraq in 2007 resolved the threats issued by
Continued vigilance is recommended for tourists who choose to visit Spain.
Public transportation in large cities is generally excellent.
- All major
cities have metered taxis, and extra charges must be posted in the
- Travelers are advised to use only clearly identified cabs and
to ensure that taxi drivers always switch on the meter.
- A green light on
the roof indicates that the taxi is available.
- Rail service is
comfortable and reliable, but varies in quality and speed. Intercity
buses are usually comfortable and inexpensive.
makes every attempt to ensure that the travel information we present to you
is current. Before you depart, be sure to check with official government
sources to determine the status of critical information relating to a
Safety and Conditions
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While driving in Spain, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from
those in the United States.
The information below concerning Spain and Andorra is provided for
general reference only, and it may not be totally accurate in a
particular location or circumstance.
Safety of Public Transportation: Good
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Excellent
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Good
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Good
Traffic in Madrid and Barcelona is faster-paced than in U.S. cities and
can be unnerving due to unfamiliar signs or motorbikes weaving between
U.S. Citizens using U.S. issued drivers licenses must obtain
International Driving Permits if they plan to drive in Spain..
- Drivers should always obey the closest traffic light, as
there are separate pedestrian lights in the city.
- Drivers should be
alert when driving at night in urban areas, due to the possibility of
encountering drivers or pedestrians under the influence of alcohol.
- Night driving in isolated rural areas can be dangerous, because of farm
animals and poorly marked roads.
- Rural traffic is generally heavier in
July and August as well as during the Christmas and Easter seasons.
- All drivers are required to carry a reflective vest and to put it on
if they need to stop on the roadside and to use a reflective triangle
warning sign for a vehicle stopped on the side of the road.
- Those renting vehicles are encouraged to check with the rental
company about traffic regulations and safety equipment.
- Spain's traffic laws prohibit the use of a mobile phone without
a hands-free device while driving a car. There is a fine of 300 euros
for violation of this regulation and loss of driving privileges.
- If you need to use your mobile phone while on the road, stop your
car in a designated parking area and place your call.
- One of the facets of Spanish traffic laws that many U.S. citizens
find troublesome is traffic stops by the Spanish National Police or the
Guardia Civil. Unlike in the United States where drivers receive traffic
tickets and then pay the court via mail or in person, Spanish police
authorities may levy fines on the spot and issue a receipt for the
payment. This is done to ensure the traffic fine is paid by foreigners
who rarely come back to Spain to pay the fine.
that you do not drink and drive. In most foreign countries, especially in Europe
and the UK, the maximum permitted blood alcohol levels are lower than
those enforced in the United States. Penalties and punishments are significant. See our article on
drinking and driving in foreign countries for
rented vehicles should pay close attention to the provisions of their
rental contracts. Failure to do so could result in fines or
confiscation of the car during your travels. Make sure that you are
familiar with the terms, restrictions and costs related to your car rental (see our article on
Rental Car Costs).
Speed Limits in
- Built-up areas - 50 km/h
- Residential - 20 km/h
- Outside Built up areas
(including dual carriageways) - 90/100 km/h (as posted)
- Motorways - 120 km/h
Our information on speed limits is as current as possible. Always
confirm the speed limits with your rental car agent and observe the posted
speeds limits whenever and wherever you drive.
For information on obtaining international drivers licenses,
contact AAA or the American Automobile Touring Alliance. For
additional general information about road safety,
including links to foreign government sites, see the Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet home page at
For specific information concerning Spanish driving permits, vehicle
inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, please contact the Spanish
National Tourist Organization offices in New York via the Internet at
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Good medical care is available in Spain.
You shouldn’t assume your insurance will go with you
when you travel. It’s very important to find out BEFORE you leave whether
or not your medical insurance will cover you overseas. You need to ask your
insurance company two questions:
--Does my policy apply when I’m out of the United States?
--Will it cover emergencies like a trip to a foreign hospital or a medical
In many places, doctors and hospitals still expect payment in cash at the
time of service. Your regular U.S. health insurance may not cover doctors’
and hospital visits in other countries. If your policy doesn’t go with you
when you travel, it’s a very good idea to take out another one for your
Regulations regarding medications may vary from those in the U.S.; Americans
with need for specific medications are encouraged to bring a supply
sufficient for their anticipated period of stay as the medication may not be
available and customs regulations do apply to medications mailed to Spain.
We strongly urge you to
consult your medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to
confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover
emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. U.S. medical insurance
plans seldom cover health costs incurred outside the United States unless
supplemental coverage is purchased. Further, U.S. Medicare and Medicaid
programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United
States. However, many travel agents and private companies offer insurance
plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas including
emergency services such as medical evacuations.
When making a
decision regarding health insurance, you should consider that many foreign
doctors and hospitals require payment in cash prior to providing medical
service and that a medical evacuation to the U.S. may cost in excess of
$50,000. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas often face
extreme difficulties. When consulting with your insurer prior to your
departure, please ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas
healthcare provider or if you will be reimbursed later for expenses you
medical insurance carrier may cover "customary and reasonable" medical
care while you are abroad. Usually, if reimbursement is provided, it is
paid at a reduced rate (due to the use of an "out of system" provider). Check with your
insurance carrier before you depart to determine the type and amount of
coverage that may be provided. If coverage is provided, be sure to ask how
claims should be filed and ask them to send some claim forms, in case you
require any medical treatment while on vacation.
Read our article on
insurance to learn the factors
that you should consider before you purchase or decline to purchase a
travel related insurance policy.
Information Guide on Health contains
valuable health related advice for the traveler considering a trip abroad.
||The U.S. Consulate in Barcelona is located at Paseo Reina Elisenda
23-25; telephone (34)(93) 280-2227 and fax (34)(93) 205-5206. Visitors to
Barcelona can access additional information from the Consulate General’s web
There are six consular agencies in Spain, which provide limited services
to American citizens, but are not authorized to issue passports. Anyone
requesting service at one of the consular agencies should call ahead to
verify that the service requested will be available on the day you expect to
visit the agency. Please note that the emergency after-hours telephone
number for all of Spain is: (34) 91 587 2200. Ask to speak to the duty
officer if you call this number for emergency assistance outside business
Fuengirola (in Malaga Province), at Avenida Juan Gomez Juanito #8, Edificio Lucia
1°-C, 29640 Spain, Fuengirola, telephone (34)(952) 474-891 and fax (34) 95
247 4891. Hours 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.;
La Coruna, at Calle Juana de Vega 8, Piso 5 Izquierdam La Coruna 15003 Spain. Telephone (34)
98 121 3233 and fax
(34) 98 122 2808, Hours 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.;
Las Palmas, at Edificio Arca, Calle Los Martinez de Escobar 3, Oficina 7,
Las Palmas, Gran Canaria 35007 Spain. Telephone telephone (34)(92 827 1259 and fax (34) 92 822 5863,
Hours 10:00 a.m. to
Palma de Mallorca, Edificio Reina Constanza, Porto Pi, 8, 9-D,
07015 Palma 07015, Islas Balerares, Spain. Telephone (34) 97 140-3707 or
(34) 97 140 39054 and fax
(34) 97 140 3971. Hours 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Seville, Seville, at Plaza Nueva 8-8 duplicado, 2 nd Floor, Office
E-2 No.4, Sevilla, 41101 Spain. Telephone: (34) 95 421 8751 and fax (34) 95
422 0791. Hours: 10:00
a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Valencia, at Doctor Romagosa #1, 2-J, 46002, Valencia, Spain.
Telephone (34) 96 351 6973 and fax (34) 96 352 9565, Hours 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Places to Visit
Country Facts Other
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