Country Reports

Spain Country Report

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Risk Level

Very High


Executive Summary

The minority coalition government led by Pedro Sanchez has adopted a tough coronavirus anti-contagion plan that entails the use of enforced "social distancing" measures and a national lockdown to prevent non-essential travel. As of late March, Spain was one of the epicentres of the pandemic, with Madrid especially badly affected. Most Spanish consumers are self-isolating, which alongside a catastrophic fall in the number of foreign visitors deep into the tourism high season through mid-2020, implies significant damage to consumer-facing services. This will push Spain into a deep recession during the second and third quarters of 2020, followed by moderate and uncertain recovery during 2021. The 7 January 2020 inauguration of the new minority coalition government led by Pedro Sánchez of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (Partido Socialista Obrero Español: PSOE) removes the near-term risk of a fresh general election. However, its weak congressional position makes its key objectives, including labour market reforms, vulnerable to blockage by other parties. The unresolved Catalan autonomy issue will remain a major ongoing challenge for Spain's new government, but the effectiveness or otherwise of its handling of the COVID-19 virus will be a key determinant of government stability through 2020.IHS Markit had already expected Spain's economic recovery to soften during 2019/20, with real GDP growth forecast down from 2.0% in 2019 to 1.5% in 2020 even before the economic consequences of the COVID-19 viru.
Last update: March 25, 2020

Operational Outlook

Spain ranks well overall compared with its regional peers in terms of doing business. However, obtaining licences, permits, and credit remains problematic. Corruption risks are likely to remain elevated, particularly during construction tenders. Labour strike risks will remain elevated nationally because of high unemployment and austerity measures, while in Catalonia labour unions continue to stage industrial action. Despite regular public transport strikes both in Madrid and Barcelona, industrial action does not usually cause severe disruption to businesses. Attempts to increase labour market flexibility will remain stagnant until a new government is installed following the 12 November 2019 election, which once again resulted in no single party winning a majority in parliament.

Last update: November 23, 2019



The August 2017 vehicle-impact attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils, indicated a significant degree of co-ordination and capability among Islamist militants and a wider jihadist support network. Urban areas (e.g., Madrid and Barcelona) are at particular risk. An attack would most likely be launched by lone actors with low capabilities, or by small terrorist cells, which are usually better organised. ETA's disbandment in May 2018 has significantly reduced the threat of nationalist/separatist attacks. The arrest of seven Catalan separatists in September 2019, accused of planning explosives attacks on public buildings in Barcelona, suggests a degree of emerging risk in Catalonia.

Last update: March 3, 2020


Violent crime rates in Spain remain generally low, although petty crimes such as theft rose in 2018. Barcelona displays higher crime rates across almost all categories, with the number of armed robberies rising by 19.4% in 2018, and a further 30% in January-September 2019. Other regions with above-average crime rates include the Balearic Islands, Malaga, and Madrid. Petty crime is likely in areas frequented by tourists and on public transport. Organised crime mainly relates to international drug trafficking, money laundering, human trafficking for prostitution, and property crime. Criminal groups are likely to continue to exert an influence over municipal politics.

Last update: March 3, 2020

War Risks

Inter-state war risks will remain low in Spain thanks to the country's friendly diplomatic and economic relations with most European countries and many other states around the globe. Spain is closely integrated in the European Union, NATO, and other international organisations. Diplomatic rifts with the United Kingdom over the sovereignty of Gibraltar during ongoing Brexit negotiations, minor occasional disagreements with Morocco over the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, and disputes with Portugal over the remote Savage Islands and the Olivenza region are highly unlikely to lead to armed conflict.

Last update: February 25, 2020

Social Stability


Catalan independence-related issues are likely to prompt disruptive protests mainly in Barcelona and other Catalan cities, as well as localised demonstrations around Catalonia, and sporadically in central Madrid. Unionist marches with a far-right presence are likely to turn violent, although fatalities are unlikely. Public meetings held by the far-right Vox party, which doubled its number of seats in parliament at the November 2019 election, are likely to provoke violent protests by radical anti-fascist groups in Andalusia, Catalonia, and the Basque Country. Other potential protest drivers include gender in-equality and climate change, anti-austerity, and taxi-driver opposition to protests against ride-hailing platforms.

Last update: March 3, 2020

Health Risk


Vaccinations required to enter the country

No vaccinations are required to enter the country.

Routine Vaccinations

Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.

Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).

Other Vaccinations

For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Natural Risks

Very high

Spain is located in an active seismic zone and earthquakes can impact the country, such as the 5.1-magnitude earthquake that hit Lorca (southeast) on May 12, 2011, leaving a dozen people dead. The Canary Islands (especially El Hierro Island) experience seismic activity as well. One of the most recent earthquakes occurred in January 2016, when a 6.1-magnitude quake was recorded off of the coast of Málaga. The worst hit area was Spain's North African enclave of Melilla, where around 26 people suffered light injuries.

From time to time, Spain also experiences summer forest fires, heavy rains, and flooding. Severe flooding occurred in Costa del Sol in December 2016, resulting in at least one death. Alicante experienced record amounts of rain in March 2017. According to media reports, the region suffered its worst amount of flooding in 20 years after it was hit by half the average annual rainfall in just one day. In June 2017, a forest fire led to the evacuation of at least 1000 people near the town of Moguer and spread to the Donana Nature Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of Spain's most important nature reserves.

Last update: April 5, 2019



Public transportation throughout the country is generally reliable and in excellent condition. All major cities have metered taxi services. In Madrid, official taxis have a flat rate of 30 euros between the city center and Madrid-Barajas Adolfo Suárez Airport (MAD).

Rail service is reliable but quality and speed varies by region. Public buses are also generally in good condition and inexpensive.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Practical Information


Spain is divided between three climatic zones. The north (Galicia, Cantabria, Basque country) has an oceanic climate characterized by regular rain and mild temperatures throughout the year; summers are usually not very hot. The center of the country (Castile, León, La Mancha, Aragon) experiences a continental climate: winters are cold and dry and summers very hot. Along the Mediterranean coast (from Catalonia to Andalucía), winters are mild and summers are often scorching, particularly in Andalucía. Rain is most common in the country in the spring and autumn months.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +34
Police: 112


Voltage: 230 V ~ 50 Hz


Last update: April 5, 2019