Travelling to Andorra With Restrictions

Steve on the mountain in Arinsal

After spending numerous winters living in Andorra, I’m now based at the Andorra Resorts office in Cardiff, however at the end of November I needed to make a trip out to Andorra to spend the week visiting our resort staff and partners, and spend the week working from our office in Arinsal. Obviously it was more of a challenge to make the journey this year, so I wanted to share a blog explaining what I needed to do and how I did it.

First up, before the trip I needed to have a PCR test to meet the entry requirements of both Spain and Andorra (as I was flying to Barcelona). The test needs to be done within 72 hours prior to arrival. The easiest option seemed to be a home-testing kit, which I purchased from Better2Know which came with a certificate required for the airport (we’re not affiliated with them, and this is not a recommendation). I ordered the kit around 10 days before travel, then took the swab test on Friday, posted it to their lab for analysis, and received the result and certificate by email on Sunday, ready to fly on Monday.

Covid-19 testing kit

Once I had my negative result, which also came with some relief, I had to submit my declaration of a negative result to the Spanish authorities prior to flying, which is done on their official website. This took around five minutes, and they email you a QR code which you’ll need to show at check-in in the UK as well as on arrival into Spain.

At the airport it felt so much easier than normal, with hardly a soul around, so getting through security was a breeze, although with pretty much everything closed (shops, bars & restaurants – even Starbucks was closed!) it was a case of making your own entertainment. So my suggestion would be to make sure you take snacks, an empty bottle to refill at the water fountain, and a tablet or Kindle, or maybe a good old-fashioned paper-back.

Waiting at the departure gate, and on the aircraft, wearing a mask was compulsory, and everyone on my flight appeared to be adhering to the rules. That being said, the usual tea and coffee routine was upheld, and Vueling appeared to be offering a pretty much normal range of snacks and meals, so whilst eating or drinking it was fine to take your mask off for a few minutes.

Landing into Barcelona the crew announced that disembarking would be row by row, instead of the usual free-for-all. It was actually a much nicer experience to do it this way, with far less pushing and shoving, and I would assume that it’s probably quicker in the long run – perhaps this could continue!

Heading into the terminal, before I got to the baggage reclaim, everyone was directed into very short queues, there were maybe three or four people in front of me, where thermal imaging cameras had been set up, my Covid-19 negative result was required, along with my Spanish government QR code (see earlier registration), and my passport. This part of the process took no more than five minutes.

After collecting my suitcase I headed for the car rental desk, and everything went smoothly, although there were a few more people around at Barcelona airport than there were at Gatwick. After collecting my car I was out the airport and continued my journey to Andorra, just three hours later checking in to an apartment in Arinsal.

When I arrived the rules for showing the PCR test result hadn’t been finalised, however since Wednesday 9th they are now required on check-in at any accommodation, if you’re staying in Andorra for at least three nights.

It was great to be back in Arinsal, a village I fondly regard as my second home, having lived there for a good number of ski seasons, and whilst I was there the snow arrived in earnest so I was able to head up the mountain with snow shoes to take in the beautiful scenery. Aside from the mountain, shops, bars, and restaurants are all open, plus there are still plenty of activities to enjoy in Andorra, even when the ski lifts are closed.

Steve snowshoeing in Arinsal
Heading up the mountain on show shoes

Everyone is taking Covid-19 very seriously, and there are strict rules in place along with heavy fines if you don’t follow them. A face mask is required at all times when you’re out and about, whether that’s walking through the village or going into a shop or restaurant. Inside a bars and restaurants it’s seating only, and only maximum four per table (excluding children), and once you’re sat down you can remove your mask. Just like in the UK, you’ll also need to leave your name and contact details whenever you visit a bar or restaurant.

There are hand sanitiser dispensers available too, and opening times are restricted depending on the type of establishment to allow for additional cleaning throughout the day. Generally you’ll find plenty of places open between 12:00 and 16:00 and from 19:00-midnight.

Amazing ribs at Cisco’s in Arinsal

For the return trip, Spain doesn’t currently (and it not expected to) have any restrictions or checks on the border related to Covid-19, however they did stop me in the car to ask where I was going, and as transit through Catalunya is permitted it was no problem to be driving to the airport. Prior to checking in I had to complete the UK’s passenger locator form, which is available online, takes less than five minutes, and results with a QR code being emailed for presentation at check-in.

Landing back in the UK, Gatwick was again deserted, disembarking again row by row (amazing) and with only a couple of people in front of me in the passport queue it was very quick and easy. At the passport desk they also scanned my UK locator QR code, then it was returning home to begin my quarantine.

So, I’m now back in the UK, and my 10-day quarantine/working from home is almost up. Whilst is might seem a daunting prospect having to get all your testing and paperwork in order, I thought that the whole process of getting my PCR test and result, as well as the government forms for Spain and the UK was very straightforward. Yes, it adds a layer of expense to the trip, and the 10-day quarantine isn’t ideal, however for a visit to the mountains it was well worth it.

I hope you found this interesting and useful if you’re planning on a ski trip to Andorra this winter – we’re on hand to help you plan and book your trip both from our UK office as well as from our office in Andorra, not to mention the helpful snow reports, photos, and videos brought to you by our local resort team, and you can also stay up-to-date with restrictions and entry requirements on our Covid-19 page here.