We advise you to take normal precautions.
Latest travel alert
During the past year the number of public gatherings and demonstrations in Barcelona and other parts of Catalonia has increased. There is a possibility of further spontaneous gatherings and protests. These may affect local transport and other services. You should avoid areas where demonstrations are taking place, monitor local media and follow the advice of the local authorities and your tour operator. Be prepared to adjust your travel plans at short notice if necessary. See also the 'Social unrest' section below.
The best help is often close at hand so if you have problems, try talking to your local contacts, tour operator representative or hotel management. You can also contact the Spanish Emergency Services by calling 112. The operators speak English.
Our tips for Safe Travels:
- Purchase comprehensive travel insurance which covers all your intended activities.
- Get a European Health Insurance Card
- Add an alert for your destination within the Travelwise App.
- Register your details with us so that we can contact you quickly if there’s an unforeseen crisis like a natural disaster or a family emergency.
- Follow us on twitter @dfatravelwise for the latest travel updates.
- Read our ‘Know Before You Go’ guide.
Safety and security
There is a general threat from terrorism in Europe, and the threat in Spain is considered to be high. While there is a risk of indiscriminate attacks, targets could include areas frequented by tourists. Since 2015 the Spanish Government’s national anti-terror alert level is at four (high) on a scale of 1 to 5; this has not changed following the attacks of August 2017 (see below). Irish citizens should increase their security awareness and exercise heightened caution in popular tourist locations and crowded places, as terrorists are likely to attempt further attacks. In case of any security incident, you should follow the instructions and advice of the local police and your tour operator.
On 17 and 18 August 2017 two related terrorist attacks took place in the Las Ramblas area of Barcelona and in the town of Cambrils, approximately 100km of Barcelona. These incidents, in which vehicles deliberately targeted pedestrians, resulted in 16 deaths, and injuries were sustained by over 100 people, including several Irish citizens. Many of those who died or were injured were foreign tourists. These events have now concluded and those who are thought to be responsible for the attacks were either killed during police operations or are in police custody.
In March 2004, bombs exploded on commuter trains in Madrid, killing 192 people. This attack was attributed to the Al Qaeda terrorist network. In 2007, a Spanish court found 21 people guilty of involvement in the bombings.
The Basque terrorist organisation, ETA, announced its dissolution in May 2018. It had not carried out any attacks in recent years.
There has been an increase in public demonstrations, which can affect local services or public transport and disrupt traffic, particularly in major cities such as Madrid and Barcelona. Strikes can also take place at short notice.
We recommend that you stay clear of demonstrations, as even gatherings that are peaceful have the potential to turn confrontational. When a demonstration is planned or in progress, avoid the routes marchers plan to take. You should also check for travel updates or transport delays before and during your trip to Spain.
Safety on balconies
There have been a number of serious accidents in recent years involving falls from balconies. Several of these have resulted in the death or serious injury of an Irish citizen. It is important to exercise caution when using hotel and apartment balconies, particularly if you have consumed alcohol or drugs, and to avoid taking unnecessary risks. If you suffer a balcony fall while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, your insurance company may refuse to cover any resultant costs. You should also be aware that the Spanish authorities may impose fines on those engaged in risky behaviour on balconies, including climbing over them or jumping from them.
Most of Spain has a moderate rate of crime. However, you should be aware that in areas such as airports, bus stations, railway stations, tourist areas and major cities such as Madrid and Barcelona, there is a much higher risk of pickpocketing and muggings. We advise you to take basic precautions:
- Don’t carry your credit card, travel tickets and money together - leave spare cash and valuables in a safe place
- Don’t carry your passport unless absolutely necessary and leave a copy of your passport (and travel and insurance documents) with family or friends at home
- Avoid showing large sums of money in public and don’t use ATMs after dark, especially if you are alone. Check no one has followed you after conducting your business
- Keep a close eye on your personal belongings and hold on to them in public places such as internet cafes, train and bus stations
- Avoid dark and unlit streets and stairways, arrange to be picked up or dropped off as close to your hotel or apartment entrance as possible
Be vigilant about petty crime: many of the cases we encounter involve stolen passports and credit cards.
In metro stations, avoid boarding the train near the exit/entrance to the platform, as this is often where pickpockets position themselves. Thieves may work in teams and a person may attempt to distract you so that an accomplice can rob you more easily.
Date rape drugs
The Spanish authorities have warned of date rape drugs, including GBH and liquid ecstasy, being used. Don’t inadvertently lower your alertness to these risks simply because you are on holiday.
There are several lottery scams being run from Spain. We advise you to be cautious if you’re contacted by an organisation claiming to be a Spanish lottery. Don’t give out personal details or pay any money, which may be described as an ‘advance fee’, a ‘tax’, or ‘insurance’. It’s likely to be a scam if you have entered a lottery and are asked to pay anything up-front or if the contact telephone number is a mobile phone.
According to the Spanish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Spanish Lottery prizes are always free of taxes, and the Spanish police have already arrested and subjected to legal procedures some of the members of groups who were operating from Spain.
Therefore, when you’re offered ‘prizes’ that seem to be linked to the Spanish Lottery, don’t pay any amount. Also, please send a copy of the false documentation to the following address:
Loterías y Apuestas del Estado - Legal Advice Service
c/ Guzmán el Bueno nº137
28003 Madrid, Spain
Or to fax number 34 91 533 51 36
There are two main police forces in Spain:
- The Policía Nacional (National Police) is the nationwide metropolitan police agency of Spain. It deals with criminal, judicial, terrorism and immigration matters. They can be contacted by dialling 091.
- The Guardia Civil (Civil Guard) operates mainly in rural areas. It has both military and civilian functions. They can be contacted by dialling 062.
In most urban areas, there is also the Policia Local (dial 092), which is responsible for traffic inside the cities and minor crime.
Reporting a crime
If you’re a victim of a crime while in Spain, report it to the local police immediately by calling the emergency services on 112 - responding operators all speak English.
Make sure you get a copy of the ‘denuncia’ (police report) when you report the crime. For example, if you’ve had belongings stolen, you’ll need the police report for insurance purposes. If your passport is lost or stolen, keep the police report for your insurance claim, to apply for an emergency travel certificate and to apply for a replacement passport when you return to Ireland.
Make sure that it’s a ‘una denuncia’ not a sworn declaration (‘una declaración judicial’), as the latter may not be accepted as evidence of the crime for insurance purposes, or when applying for your new passport.
Making a police report
You can make a police report in three different ways:
- In person: Check this list of police stations in the different regions of Spain to find the nearest one to you. English language interpreters are not always available at short notice so you should consider bringing a Spanish-speaking person with you.
- By phone: You can make a police report by phone in English by phoning 901 102 112. The English language service is available from 9am – 9pm, seven days a week. Once you’ve made your report, you’ll be instructed to pick up a signed copy of the report at your nearest police station. However, some crimes, particularly more serious crimes or those involving violence, can only be reported in person.
- Online: You can also make a police report online, but in Spanish only. Some crimes, especially more serious crimes involving physical violence, must be reported in person.
Read further safety advice from the Spanish police.
Arrest and detention
If you’re arrested by the Spanish police at any stage, please ensure that all judicial matters against you are resolved before you leave Spain and that you have paid any fines. Otherwise, you may be detained when you come back to Spain and you may incur further fines or even a prison sentence.
You can contact us at the Irish Embassy or one of Ireland's Honorary Consulates if you need help.
Tue, 16 Oct 2018 15:28:27 BST