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Security Briefing

United States: Department of State International Travel Information

Latest advice,

Reissued with obsolete COVID-19 page links removed.

Exercise increased caution in Spain due to terrorism and civil unrest.

Country Summary: Terrorist groups continue plotting possible attacks in Spain. Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, local government facilities, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, parks, major sporting and cultural events, educational institutions, airports, and other public areas.

Demonstrations are common. They may take place in response to political or economic issues, on politically significant holidays, and during international events.

Read the country information page for additional information on travel in Spain.

If you decide to travel to Spain:

  • Avoid demonstrations and crowds.
  • Be aware of your surroundings when traveling to tourist locations and crowded public venues.
  • Follow the instructions of local authorities.
  • Monitor local media for breaking events and adjust your plans based on new information.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Review the Country Security Report for Spain.
  • Visit the CDC page for the latest Travel Health Information related to your travel.
  • Prepare a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist.

Australia: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Travel Advice

Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade does not issue travel warnings for specific countries, but issues travel advice for every country. The information below is excerpted from its summary assessments of Spain

Current as of: 12 December 2022
Last Reviewed: 22 October 2022
Latest Advice: Exercise normal safety precautions in Spain.

Terrorist attacks are likely.

The national terrorism alert for Spain is 'high'.

In recent years, terrorists have staged attacks in European cities. Targets have included:

  • public transport
  • transport hubs
  • places of worship
  • sporting venues
  • public places popular with tourists

In August 2017, vehicle attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils killed 16 people and injured many more.

The Spanish Government has increased security in public places, such as:

  • shopping areas
  • tourist sites
  • transport hubs
  • major events that attract large crowds

Security services have stopped some planned attacks.

To stay safe, you should:

  • be aware of possible threats when planning activities
  • be alert in public places known to be possible terrorist targets
  • monitor the media for updates
  • don't ignore official warnings
  • follow the advice of local authorities

If there is an attack, leave the area as soon as it's safe. Avoid the affected area in case of secondary attacks.

Terrorism is a threat worldwide.

More information:

  • Terrorism
Civil unrest and political tension

Demonstrations occur regularly, particularly in Barcelona and the Catalan region. 

Demonstrations and strikes can disrupt traffic and transport, including air and rail.

Some demonstrations held close to tourist areas in large cities have ended in clashes with police and resulted in injuries.

Public protests and events that draw large groups of people can turn violent.

To stay safe:

  • monitor local media for possible strikes and unrest
  • avoid affected areas
  • follow the advice of local authorities

Contact your travel agent or tour operator about your transport bookings. Be ready to change your plans.

More information:

  • Demonstrations and civil unrest
Petty crime

Petty crime is common in large cities. It's a serious problem in Barcelona, especially on public transport and in tourist areas.

Petty crime includes:

  • bag snatching
  • pickpocketing
  • theft from cars

Thieves are very active during the peak summer tourist season. They target:

  • tourist attractions
  • public transport, railway stations and cruise terminals
  • museums
  • beaches
  • hotel foyers
  • car parking areas or car hire companies

Take care when placing bags on chairs or on the ground in restaurants and outdoor cafes.

Thieves often work in gangs. Thieves try to distract you by:

  • asking for help or directions
  • deliberately spilling something on you

While you're distracted, another thief steals your belongings.

To avoid petty crime:

  • take care of your personal belongings, especially in crowds
  • leave your passport and other valuables in a safe location
  • avoid walking in quiet, poorly lit streets
  • monitor the media for news on crime.

Keep your passport and other ID separate. Carry a copy of your passport for ID, either in hardcopy or as a photo on your phone.

Road crime

Road crime occurs throughout Spain.

Take care when driving from Marseille in France to Valencia in Spain along the Mediterranean coast. Cars with foreign number plates are often targets.

Thieves working in pairs may convince you to stop because of a 'problem' with your vehicle, then offer to help with a flat or slashed tyre. While one helps, the other steals your belongings.

Keep luggage and personal belongings out of sight.

To stay safe when on the road:

  • be wary of offers of help
  • always keep car doors locked, even when driving
  • use secure parking facilities when you can, especially overnight
  • don't leave your vehicle unattended for long periods

Thieves also break into caravans and motor homes, particularly in public parking areas.

Credit card fraud

Credit card and ATM fraud can occur.

Avoid using ATMs that open onto the street, especially at night. Use ATMs in banks, shops and shopping centres.

Drink spiking

Cases of drink spiking, followed by theft and sexual assault, are reported.

To protect yourself from crime:

  • stick with people you trust in bars and nightclubs
  • never accept food or drinks from strangers
  • don't leave your food or drink unattended

More information:

  •  Partying safely

Scams are common.

Be aware of the latest scams. Don't become a victim.

Some complex scam operations are based in Spain. Inheritance scams are the most common.

Inheritance scams involve receiving an email from someone claiming to be a lawyer. They tell you an unknown Spanish relative has died and left you money.

If you've been a victim of a scam, don't travel to Spain. Seek legal advice.

Climate and natural disasters

Spain experiences natural disasters and severe weather.

If there's a natural disaster, follow the advice of local authorities.


Spain experiences earthquakes, but major quakes are rare.

Volcanic eruptions occurred in 2021 on La Palma in the Canary Islands. There's lots of seismic activity on the Canary Island of El Hierro. The risk level set by local authorities is Green, which is level 1 of 3.

More information:

  • Canary Islands Government
Severe weather

Sometimes Spain experiences extreme storms, especially along the northern coast and islands.

Heavy snow in winter (December to February) can affect northern areas.

Forest fires

Forest fires can occur in summer, from July to September. The risk is higher in rural areas.

Strict fines apply for any actions that could start a fire. If camping, ask local authorities for advice on fire danger and fire restrictions.

If there's a forest fire:

  • follow the advice of local authorities, including evacuation orders
  • keep in contact with family and friends
  • monitor the media for updates
Adventure travel
Running of the Bulls

The annual Running of the Bulls takes place in Pamplona in July.

Taking part is dangerous. Every year, people are badly injured and sometimes killed.

People are also killed or badly injured jumping from fountains during the festivities in Pamplona.

Your travel insurance may not cover you if:

  • you take part in the Running of the Bulls
  • jump from fountains
  • take other risks

Medicare doesn't cover you if you're in Spain.

Check the details of your travel insurance policy. Don't take unnecessary risks.

United Kingdom: Foreign and Commonwealth Office Foreign Travel Advice