Country guides Europe
Electrical current is 230 volts, 50Hz. European-style two-pin plugs are standard.
Spanish is the official language, but English is widely understood in areas frequented by tourists. Catalan, Galician and Basque are spoken in the relevant areas.
Spain's official currency is the Euro (EUR). One Euro is divided into 100 cents. Money can be exchanged at bureaux de change and major hotels, but banks give the best rates. All major credit cards are widely accepted at most hotels, restaurants, and shops. ATMs are widespread and are generally the cheapest and most convenient method of obtaining money.
Hotel and restaurant bills usually include service charges, but additional tips are welcomed for services rendered. In established restaurants, tips of about 10 percent are expected. In Mallorca, value added tax is usually included in restaurant bills, designated IVA, and may be mistaken for a service charge. Drivers of metered taxis expect small tips and it is customary to tip about 5 to 10 percent for most services, including guides.
There are no health risks associated with travel to Spain, and no vaccination certificates are required for entry. Medical facilities are good in Spain, but comprehensive travel insurance is always advised. Spain has a reciprocal health agreement with most EU countries, providing emergency health care for EU travellers on the same terms as Spanish nationals. After Brexit, the Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) replaced the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) for UK citizens. The GHIC allows UK citizens access to state healthcare during visits to the EU. The GHIC is not valid in Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland, nor is it an alternative to travel insurance. EU travellers should take a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Travellers should take any medication they require along with them, in its original packaging and accompanied by a signed and dated letter from a doctor detailing what it is and why it is needed.
Most visits to Spain are trouble-free, except for occasional street crime, which is common in the big cities. Travellers are advised to take precautions to avoid theft of passports, credit cards, travel documents and money. Crime is usually petty and violent assault is rare. Visitors should be wary of strangers offering or asking for help of any kind, as it is often a distraction for accomplices. There are also scams involving letters for outstanding traffic fines or Spanish lottery winnings. If travellers exercise all the normal precautions they should have a trouble-free holiday in Spain.
Smoking in public places is banned and stiff fines will be imposed for smoking in areas such as enclosed public spaces, areas where food is prepared and sold, public transport, non-smoking areas of bars and restaurants, and any places that cater for children. Drinking alcohol in the streets of Madrid and the streets of the Canary and Balearic Islands is illegal.
The business culture in Spain is slowly shifting but, for now, it's entrenched in tradition and it can take some time for foreigners to gain a foothold in the Spanish working world. It is important never to undermine authority, with hierarchy central to Spain's business world. Managers often tend to make decisions without considering input from their colleagues.
A strong emphasis is placed on social status, character attributes, and personal pride. Success is often hinged upon being well-dressed, honourable, and dignified, while also exhibiting great social skills. Business meetings are generally conducted face-to-face and can go on for long periods, as Spaniards prefer long deliberations in order to avoid uncertainty in corporate dealings. Business meetings in Spain tend to tread a fine line between personal and formal.
Conducting business in Spain can entail navigation through a lot of red tape and bureaucracy. Spanish is the language of business, but some of the larger multinationals conduct meetings in both English and Spanish. Business hours are often quite varied, but generally open by 9am and close in the mid-evening with a two-hour lunch break during the early afternoon.
Business attire is quite conservative with dark or linen suits, with shirts and silk ties for men. Women should wear modest dresses or tailored suits. Brand names or labels attract affirmation from colleagues and associates.
After the conclusion of successful negotiations, gifts are appropriate. Gifts should be of high quality and, when receiving a gift, it should be opened in front of the giver. Business cards are important and should be bilingual. Meetings are best scheduled for mid-morning, in which establishing a formal yet personable environment is important before beginning. Meetings often occur over lunches and dinners and may be characterised by several speakers.
Travellers form EU countries are allowed the following items duty free: 800 cigarettes or 400 cigarillos or 200 cigars or 1kg tobacco; 110 litres beer; 90 litres wine; and 10 litres spirit. Travellers from non-EU countries may have 200 cigarettes or 100 cigarillos or 50 cigars or 250g tobacco; 1 litre spirits, 4 litres wine, and 16 litres beer.
The international access code for Spain is +34. WiFi is widely available; travellers can purchase local SIM cards for unlocked phones.
Passport & Visa
The borderless region known as the Schengen area includes the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden. All these countries issue a standard Schengen visa that has a multiple entry option, allowing the holder to travel freely within the borders of all. Non-EU nationals must hold a return or onward ticket, all necessary documents for onward travel and sufficient funds. It is highly recommended that passports have at least six months' validity remaining after the intended date of departure from Spain. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.
United States citizens require a passport valid for three months beyond the period of intended stay. No visa is required for stays of up to 90 days within a 180 day period.
United Kingdom citizens require a passport valid for at least three months beyond period of intended stay, with the exception of passports marked 'British Citizen', 'British Subject' (containing a Certificate of Entitlement to the Right of Abode issued by the United Kingdom), and 'British Overseas Territories Citizen' issued by Gibraltar, which will be accepted if valid on arrival.
No visa is required for passports endorsed 'British Citizen', 'British Overseas Territories Citizen' issued by Gibraltar, Identity Cards issued by Gibraltar, and 'British Subject' (containing a Certificate of Entitlement to the Right of Abode issued by the United Kingdom) for a maximum stay of 90 days. All other British nationals are entitled to a maximum stay of 90 days without a visa within a 180 day period.
Canadian citizens require a passport valid for at least three months beyond period of intended stay. No visa is required for stays of up to 90 days within a 180 day period.
Australian citizens require a passport valid for at least three months beyond period of intended stay. No visa is required for stays of up to 90 days within a 180 day period.
South African citizens require a passport valid for at least three months beyond period of intended stay. A visa is required.
Irish nationals require a valid passport, but a visa is not necessary.
New Zealand citizens require a passport valid for at least three months beyond period of intended stay. No visa is required for stays of up to 90 days within a 180 day period.
Spanish Tourist Office, Madrid: www.spain.info.112 (General).
Embassies / consulates in other countries
Spanish Embassy, Washington, United States: +1 202 452 0100.
Spanish Embassy, London, United Kingdom: +44 0207 235 5555.
Spanish Embassy, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 747 2252.
Spanish Embassy, Canberra, Australia: +61 02 6273 3555.
Spanish Embassy, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 012 460 0123 (ext. 116/117).
Spanish Embassy, Dublin, Ireland: +353 01 283 9900.
Spanish Consulate, Wellington, New Zealand: +64 04 802 5665.
Embassies / consulates in Spain
United States Embassy, Madrid: +34 91 587 2200.
British Embassy, Madrid: +34 91 714 6300.
Canadian Embassy, Madrid: +34 91 382 8400.
Australian Embassy, Madrid: +34 91 353 6600.
South African Embassy, Madrid: +34 91 436 3780.
Irish Embassy, Madrid: +34 91 436 4093.
New Zealand Embassy, Madrid: +34 915 230 226.