Spain – COVID-19: Government Restricts Access through Country’s External Borders

Spain – Govt Restricts Access through External Borders

This GMS Flash Alert examines some of the key aspects of Spain’s Order INT/270/2020 (“the Order”) introduced on 21 March 2020, establishing criteria for the application of a temporary restriction on non-essential travel from third countries to the European Union (EU) and associated Schengen countries. These criteria took effect at midnight Sunday, 22 March 2020, at Spain’s borders. Access to Spain will only be granted to Spanish citizens and Spanish residents along with those individuals who fall into one of the “exception” categories noted.




The Spanish public administration is adopting necessary “containment” measures aimed at protecting the health of Spain’s citizens in the face of a growing COVID-19 crisis.1

One of the most recent measures, which we will be looking into in more detail here, is Order INT/270/20202 (“the Order”) from 21 March 2020, establishing criteria for the application of a temporary restriction on non-essential travel from third countries to the European Union (EU) and associated Schengen countries.  These criteria took effect at midnight Sunday, 22 March 2020, at Spain’s border posts at ports and airports.


The travel measures described in this newsletter will impact a large number of people traveling within Spain and traveling from abroad into Spain, and those who wish to travel out of Spain.  Companies that were in the process of sending assignees and business travelers or had been planning to send assignees and business travelers inbound to Spain or outbound from Spain will be affected.  Employees and their families who may have received offers for an international assignment to Spain may need to postpone the commencement of the assignment or may indeed already be there but on limited term visas.  This could cause some anxiety, stress, and inconvenience, especially where plans for relocation were already underway or where such individuals are already in Spain on temporary visas.

Companies with global presence and individuals operating across borders need to be increasingly aware of the relevant risks associated with travel, large-crowd events and conferences, and new work arrangements consequent to the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Who Is Affected?

Access will only be granted to Spanish citizens and Spanish residents along with those who fall into one of the following categories: 

(a) Residents of the EU or Schengen associated states, who are travelling directly to their place of residence.

(b) Holders of a long-stay visa issued by a member state or Schengen associated state who are travelling to this same state.

(c) Cross-border workers.

(d) Health-care or elderly-care professionals going to work.

(e) Personnel engaged in the transport of goods, in the course of their work, and flight crews required to carry out commercial air transport activities.

(f) Diplomatic and consular staff, staff of international and military organisations, and members of humanitarian organisations in the exercise of their duties.

(g) Persons travelling for imperative family reasons duly accredited.

(h) Persons who provide documentary evidence of force majeure or distress, or whose entry is permitted on humanitarian grounds.

Where Are Borders Being Affected?

The government has decided to close, on a temporary basis, the land posts that permit authorised entry into and departure from Spain through the enclave cities of Ceuta and Melilla located on the North African coast. The cities, which border Morocco, are closed to access by individuals in Morocco, with some exceptions.  Morocco, just a few days prior, had already closed its land borders to entry into the kingdom from Ceuta and Melilla.

This measure is in addition to the reintroduction of checks at internal land borders with Portugal and France.

The Order states that the Spanish authorities shall cooperate with foreign carriers and authorities to prevent the travel of those persons who, pursuant to the Order, are designated for “entry refusal” at the external borders.

This restriction does not apply to the transport of goods in order to help ensure the continuity of economic activity and to preserve the supply chain.

Where Are Borders Not Being Affected?

The measures in this Order shall not apply at the land border with Andorra3 or at the checkpoint for persons in the territory of Gibraltar,4 without prejudice to the possibility of carrying out police checks in their jurisdictions in order to verify compliance with the provisions of Article 7 of Royal Decree 463/2020 of 14 March on the limitation of movement (for prior coverage of this royal decree, see GMS Flash Alert 2020-114, 25 March 2020). 

How Long Will These Restrictions Be in Place?

The Order will be valid for an initial period of 30 days, with the possibility for an extension that may be agreed moving forward.


Employers and professional service providers should take note of the above-mentioned closures, service interruptions, and process and policy changes in light of the COVID-19 crisis.  It is possible this new situation may be temporary, but in the meantime, employers and service providers will need to adjust their expectations and operate within the restrictions of this “new normal.” 

Any questions or concerns should be directed to your qualified professional adviser or a member of the GMS/People Services team with the KPMG International member firm in Spain.


1  For information (in Spanish ) on measures taken and policies implemented to fight COVID-19 in Spain, see the Ministerio de Sanidad (Ministry of Health) webpage at: .

For some basic information on measures taken by the Spanish government to combat COVID-19, see this webpage of the Embassy of the United States in Spain: .

2  For the original Order in Spanish, please visit: .

3. See the 16 March 2020 press conference streamed live (on YouTube) with Minister of the Interior Fernando Grande-Marlaska (in Spanish) at: .

4  Ibid.  Also, see the press release on the treatment of Gibraltar (in English) from the Gibraltar government. 

KPMG in Australia is holding a webinar: “COVID-19: Managing Taxation Obligations – Employer Considerations”

Date: 2 April 2020

Time: 12:00pm – 1:00pm AES

Angela Wood, Partner and Regional Leader, Tax Dispute Resolution & Controversy with the KPMG International member firm in Australia will host a discussion with two Employment Tax Advisory partners, Nathan Hamilton and Hayley Lock, also with KPMG in Australia, to explore the different concessions in Australia currently available to taxpayers who may be experiencing difficulties with their taxation obligations because of COVID-19.

For more information and to register, click here.  

*  Please note that KPMG LLP (U.S.) does not provide any immigration services.  However, KPMG Law LLP in Canada can assist clients with U.S. immigration matters.   


The information contained in this newsletter was submitted by the KPMG International member firm in Spain.


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