COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Spain and Andorra are both advanced stable democracies and modern economies. Spain is a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union. Read the Department of State Background Notes on Spain and Andorra for additional information.Back to Top
SMART TRAVELER ENROLLMENT PROGRAM(STEP) / EMBASSY LOCATION: If you are going to live in or visit Spain or Andorra, please take the time to tell our Embassy (and/or Consulate) about your trip. If you enroll, we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements. It will also help your friends and family get in touch with you in an emergency. Here’s the link to the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.
Calle Serrano, 75
28006 Madrid, Spain
Telephone: (34) 91 587 2240
Emergency after-hours telephone: (34) 91 587 2200
Ask to speak to the duty officer if you need emergency assistance outside business hours.
Facsimile: (34) 91 587 2303
Website: U.S. Embassy Madrid
Paseo Reina Elisenda de Montcada, 23-25
08034 Barcelona, Spain
Telephone: (34) 93 280 2227
Emergency after-hours telephone: (34) 91 587 2200
Ask to speak to the duty officer if you need emergency assistance outside business hours.
Facsimile: (34) 93 280 6175
Website: U.S. Consulate General Barcelona
You need to make an appointment for routine consular services. Additional information and appointments for routine services
are available through the U.S. Citizen Services page on the embassy’s website. To make an appointment, please visit the U.S. Embassy's online appointment system.
There are six consular agencies in Spain, which provide limited services to U.S. 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. The agencies’ contact information is below. 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 hours.
The U.S. Consulate General in Barcelona provides many services for U.S. citizens, including emergency passport services. The U.S. Citizens Services Unit’s assistance also includes, but is not limited to, routine passport services, notary services, and Consular Reports of Births Abroad. The Consulate General also assists in emergencies, including deaths, arrests and crisis situations. You need to make an appointment for routine consular services. For assistance regarding Andorra, please contact the U.S. Consulate General in Barcelona.
Avenida Juan Gómez "Juanito", 8
Edificio Lucía 1º-C
29640 Fuengirola (Málaga), Spain
Telephone: (34) 95 247 4891
Facsimile: (34) 95 246 5189
Hours: 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Website: U.S. Consular Agency Fuengirola (Málaga)
Calle Juana de Vega 8
Piso 5, Izquierda
15003 La Coruna, Spain
Telephone: (34) 98 121 3233
Facsimile: (34) 98 122 2808
Hours: 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Website: U.S. Consular Agency A Coruña
Calle Los Martinez de Escobar 3, Oficina 7
35007 Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, Spain
Telephone: (34) 92 827 1259
Facsimile: (34) 92 822 5863
Hours: 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Website: U.S. Consular Agency Las Palmas
at Edificio Reina Constanza
Porto Pi, 8, 9-D
07015 Palma, Islas Baleares, Spain
Telephone: (34) 97 140 3707 or (34) 97 140 3905
Facsimile: (34) 97 140 3971
Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Website: U.S. Consular Agency Palma de Mallorca
Plaza Nueva 8-8 duplicado
2nd Floor, Office E-2 No.4
41101 Sevilla, Spain
Telephone: (34) 95 421 8751
Facsimile: (34) 95 422 0791
Hours: 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Website: U.S. Consular Agency Seville
Doctor Romagosa 1, 2-J
46002 Valencia, Spain
Telephone: (34) 96 351 6973
Facsimile: (34) 96 352 9565
Hours: 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Website: U.S. Consular Agency Valencia
For assistance regarding Andorra, please contact the U.S. Consulate General in Barcelona.
ENTRY / EXIT REQUIREMENTS FOR U.S. CITIZENS: Spain is a party to the Schengen Agreement. This means that U.S. citizens may enter Spain for up to 90 days for tourist or business purposes without a visa. Your passport should be valid for at least three months beyond the period of stay. You need sufficient funds, evidence of hotel reservations or an official letter of invitation if you will stay with family or friends, and a return airline ticket. For additional details about travel into and within Schengen countries, please see our Schengen Fact Sheet. For details regarding what is required for an official letter of invitation please visit the website of the Spanish Embassy in the U.S.
The Spanish Government scrutinizes visitors who overstay their visas or their visa-free entry per the Schengen Agreement. Immediate deportation after spending a number of days in jail is not uncommon. You should leave Spain promptly at the end of the 90-day visa-free travel period or at the end of the time stated on your visa.
U.S. citizens who wish to stay in Spain for longer than three months or who wish to apply for residency in Spain will also need to supply local authorities with an official criminal records check from their state of residence or from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Criminal Justice Information Services office (CJIS). 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..
The embassy does not take fingerprints for the purpose of criminal records checks; rather, U.S. citizens can obtain a letter from the U.S. Embassy asking local police to take their fingerprints. Individuals need to make an appointment for notarial services to obtain the letter.
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 parent(s) or legal guardian not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Spain and Andorra.
Visit the Embassy of Spain's website for the most current visa information. For more information concerning entry requirements for Spain, travelers should contact the Embassy of Spain at 2375 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20037, telephone (202) 452-0100 or (202) 728-2340, or the nearest Spanish Consulate in Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, San Francisco, or San Juan. Information for the Spanish Embassy and consulates can be found at the Embassy of Spain’s website. Additional information can be found on the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs website or obtained from the Tourist Office of Spain which has offices in several U.S. cities.
Andorra does not have an airport, therefore all visitors to Andorra must enter via a land border with either Spain or France.
There are no visa requirements for entry into Andorra for stays of up to three months; however, the relevant regulations for
France or Spain should be followed, depending on which country is transited to reach Andorra. Andorra is not part of the Schengen
area. People entering Europe on a Schengen visa should therefore make sure that their visa entitles them to repeated visits
to prevent them from being refused entry to Spain or France following a stay in Andorra.
For more information on entry requirements to Andorra, travelers should contact the Andorran Mission to the UN, 2 U.N. Plaza, 25th floor, New York, NY 10018, telephone (212) 750-8064, email Andorra@un.int.
Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.
THREATS TO SAFETY AND SECURITY: 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 at all times .
IIn 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 2007.
In October 2011, the Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) terrorist organization publicly announced a “definitive cessation of armed activity” in the run-up to the November 20 Spanish general elections. While recent arrests have seriously weakened the organizationand despite the October announcement, ETA remains a threat and has not disarmed or disbanded. 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 Ecuadorian nationals were killed in the Barajas Airport bombing in December 2006 , and 17 students were injured, including one American, in the bombing at the University of Navarre in October 2008. Though extortion threats have recently ceased in the Basque region, in the past, bombs have been used as part of criminal extortion of businesses. 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 outside the Basque Country in Burgos and Palma de Mallorca in July 2009 underscore the importance of being vigilant.
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CRIME: Andorra has a low rate of crime. 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 attention. 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 tend to 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 ATMs.
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 have been a number of passport and bag thefts reported at Madrid’s Barajas Airport, local hotels, as well as in El Rastro (Madrid’s flea market) and in the Metro.
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, Metro stations, in the Sagrada Familia Area, in the Gothic Quarter, in Park Güell, in Plaza Real, and along Barcelona’s beaches. There have been a number of thefts reported at the Port Olimpic Area and nearby beaches.
Travelers should remain alert to their personal security and exercise caution. We suggest that travelers 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.
Be especially careful in crowds. Avoid placing passports, cash or other valuables in the outer pockets of backpacks or purses. Pickpockets often use the cover of a crowd to rob unsuspecting tourists and visitors. Do not leave belongings unattended in public areas. Do not put purses on the floor or on the backs of chairs at restaurants. Keep valuable belongings within sight and within easy reach at all times in public areas to reduce the risk of theft.
Thieves often work in teams of two or more people. In many cases, one person distracts a victim while the accomplices perform the robbery. For example, someone might wave a map in your face and ask for directions, ”inadvertently” spill something on you, or help you clean up bird droppings thrown on you by a third unseen accomplice. While your attention is diverted, an accomplice makes off with your valuables. Thieves may drop coins or keys at your feet to distract you and try to take your belongings while you are trying to help. Physical assaults rarely happen. In the past, such attacks were 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 robbed. 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 reports of thieves posing as plainclothes police officers, beckoning to pedestrians from cars and sometimes confronting them on the street 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 reports of cars on limited access motorways being pulled over by supposed unmarked police cars. The Spanish police do not operate in this fashion. We encourage U.S. citizens to ask for a uniformed law enforcement officer if approached.
Theft from vehicles is also common. “Good Samaritan" scams are unfortunately common, where 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. Items high in value like luggage, cameras, laptop computers, or briefcases are often stolen from cars. We recommend that travelers not leave baggage in open view inside parked cars, and keep doors locked, windows rolled up, and valuables out of sight when driving.
While the incidence of sexual assault is statistically very low, attacks do occur. We recommend that U.S. citizens remain aware of their surroundings at all times, and travel with a companion if possible, especially at night. Spanish authorities warn of the availability of so-called "date-rape" drugs and other drugs, including GBH and liquid ecstasy. U.S. citizens should not lower their personal security awareness because they are on vacation.
A number of U.S. citizens have been victims of various scams in Spain. One scheme involves a U.S. citizen receiving an email or telephone call requesting money to assist a relative or acquaintance who has been arrested, detained, robbed, or injured in Spain. If you receive such an email, we recommend that you not send money. Other scams include lottery or advance-fee scams in which a person is lured to Spain to finalize a financial transaction. 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. For more information, please see the Bureau of Consular Affairs’ web page on International Financial Scams.
Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal in the United States, if you purchase them you are also breaking local law.
VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. We can:
The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Europe, including in Spain and Andorra, is 112.
Please see our information on victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in Spain and Andorra, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different from our own and criminal penalties will vary from country to country. In Spain, driving under the influence could land you immediately in jail. There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States. You can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you buy pirated goods. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States. If you break local laws in Spain and Andorra, your U.S. passport or citizenship won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It’s very important to know what’s legal and what’s not wherever you go.
Persons violating the laws of Spain and Andorra, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Spain and Andorra are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.
The cities of Madrid and Barcelona and the Balearic Islands regional government have banned the consumption of alcohol in the street, other than in registered street cafes and bars. Visitors to Madrid, Barcelona, Mallorca, Ibiza, and Menorca should be aware that failure to respect this law might result in the imposition of fines. Throughout Spain and Andorra, driving under the influence could land you immediately in jail.
Spain takes illegal immigration seriously and police may stop people to ask for identification and proof of legal status. We recommend that you carry a copy of your U.S. passport at all times.
While some countries will automatically notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate if a U.S. citizen is detained or arrested in a foreign country, that might not always be the case here. To ensure that the United States Government is aware of your circumstances, request that the police and prison officials notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate as soon as you are arrested or detained overseas.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Accessibility: While in Spain, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation different from what you find in the United States. Spain has laws that prohibit discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, and mental disabilities in employment, education, access to health care, access to information technology and communication, including social media, and the provision of other state services. The law mandates access to buildings for persons with disabilities. While the government generally enforces these provisions, levels of assistance and accessibility differ between regions. Madrid, Barcelona and many of the other major citieshave made great strides in making public transportation, museums and other public buildings accessable to those with physical disabilities. Most buses have ramps to accommodate wheelchairs and many metro stations have elevators for the same purpose. Taxis are available which accommodate wheelchairs. However, in the downtown historic areas and in some other areas, sidewalks can be narrow and have uneven surfaces. Tourists should take this into account when planning their visit.
Andorran law prohibits discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual and mental disabilities in employment, education, access to health care, and the provision of other state services. These nondiscrimination laws help to protect travelers with disabilities. In practice, persons with disabilities have easy access to public buildings. The government continues to adapt infrastructure to the needs of disabled persons to ensure accessibility to public transportation, museums, commerce, restaurants, and other buildings in the country.
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: Good medical care is available in both Spain and Andorra. Regulations regarding medications may vary from those in the United States. Spanish regulations do not permit the international shipment of medication, so please do not ship medication from the United States to Spain. U.S. citizens who plan a lengthy trip to Spain should bring their medication or obtain a prescription for that medication from a Spanish physician.
You can find detailed information on vaccinations and other health precautions, on the CDC website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization (WHO) website. The WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: You can’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:
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 doctor’ 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 trip. For more information, please see our medical insurance overseas page.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in Spain and Andorra, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States.
Traffic in Madrid and Barcelona is faster paced than in U.S. cities and can be unnerving because of unfamiliar signs or motorbikes weaving between traffic lanes. Drivers should always obey the closest traffic light, as there are separate pedestrian lights in the cities. Drivers should be alert when driving at night in urban areas because of 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.
Traffic regulations in effect in Spain include the prohibition on 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. In addition, all drivers and passengers are required to carry a reflective vest and put it on if they need to stop on the roadside. A reflective triangle warning sign for a vehicle stopped on the side of the road is also mandatory. Those renting vehicles are encouraged to check with the rental company about traffic regulations and safety equipment. U.S. citizens must obtain International Driving Permits prior to their arrival if they plan to drive in Spain. You are not allowed to drive on your American license. While rental car companies may rent a vehicle to you without the International Driving Permit, this is illegal and, if pulled over for a traffic violation, your rental car may be detained and towed to the nearest impound lot. Pedestrians should use designated crossing areas when crossing streets and obey traffic lights.
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.
Public transportation in large Spanish cities is generally excellent. All major cities have metered taxis, in which extra charges must be posted in the vehicle. We advise travelers 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. If you have a problem or suspect you are being over charged, ask for an official receipt. The license number for the taxi should be located in a metal plaque by the passenger window. This number identifies a specific taxiand can prove useful in the event of forgotten property or if you decide to file a complaint. Rail service is comfortable and reliable, but varies in quality and speed. Intercity buses are usually comfortable and inexpensive.
Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information. 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. For information about driving in Andorra, refer to Andorra's Office of Tourism.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Spain’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Spain’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.
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This replaces the Country Specific Information for Spain and Andorra dated May 25, 2011, to update sections on Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)/Embassy Location, Entry/Exit Requirements for U.S. Citizens, Threats to Safety and Security, Crime, Victims of Crime, Criminal Penalties, Special Circumstances, and Traffic Safety and Road Conditions..