Official advice for New Zealanders living and travelling overseas

  • Reviewed: 6 November 2018, 16:15 NZDT
  • Still current at: 24 February 2020

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Exercise increased caution

Exercise increased caution in Spain due to the ongoing threat of terrorism. 

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Terrorist groups, including those based in Syria and Iraq, continue to pose a threat to Spain and wider Europe. There is also a threat from domestic-based extremists, including plots that may involve foreign fighters returning to Spain and Europe from the conflicts in Syria and Iraq. Spain has been a target for mass casualty terrorist attacks in the past, and remains a subject of terrorist activity.

On 17 - 18 August 2017, two terrorist related incidents occurred in Las Ramblas, Barcelona, and Cambrils, approximately 120kms south west of Barcelona. These events resulted in a number of fatalities and injuries.

The Spanish government maintains a national terrorism alert level in response to terrorist attacks in Europe and elsewhere, as well as information held by its security agencies. Since 2015 the Spanish authorities have assessed the threat level as “high”, the second highest level (Level 4 out of 5). This remains unchanged after the Barcelona attack in August 2017. The current alert level is available on the Spanish Interior Ministry's website (in Spanish).

The Basque terrorist organisation Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA) announced a ‘definitive cessation of armed activity’ in October 2011, and a full disarmament took place in April 2017. ETA announced its full dissolution effective from 2 May 2018. 

New Zealanders in Spain are advised to keep themselves informed of potential risks to safety and security by monitoring the media and other local information sources. We recommend following any instructions issued by the local authorities and exercising a high degree of vigilance in public places, particularly at tourist sites, shopping areas and transport hubs, such as airports and railway stations.

Petty crime such as bag snatching and pick pocketing is common in Spain, and is particularly common in tourist areas and on public transport, especially in Barcelona and Madrid. Foreign tourists are targeted by professional thieves in Spain, and this regularly includes New Zealanders. We advise New Zealanders in Spain to maintain a high level of personal security awareness at all times and take steps to safeguard and secure personal belongings.

There are a wide variety of scams in operation, involving various forms of distraction to tourists while they are being pickpocketed. These distractions can be elaborate and involve accomplices. For example, an accomplice will “accidentally” dirty your clothing by spilling coffee or food on you to allow a seemingly helpful bystander to offer assistance in cleaning it while they pick the pockets of your clothing. Bags, wallets and purses are frequently stolen from restaurants, street side tables, and other crowded locations, such as beaches.

Thieves have been known to pose as police officers, asking to see wallets for identification purposes – if approached by someone claiming to be a police officer we recommend you show only your ID and not your wallet or other valuables. Thieves have also been known to target hotel rooms and safes.

Thieves are known to target motorists, especially in rental cars. Service stations are a popular area for thieves and they may try to convince you there is damage to the car, or in some cases, tourists have had their cars physically damaged e.g. punctured tyres – then had their belongings stolen whilst investigating. New Zealanders are advised to be wary of anyone who approaches or offers assistance and if you decide to stop and get out of the car to investigate, we advise you to lock all the doors and keep valuables in a safe place.

The New Zealand Embassy website provides advice on what to do if your New Zealand passport is lost or stolen.

Civil unrest
There have been large gatherings of people in Barcelona and other areas of the Catalonia region in relation to the political developments there. While these have been largely peaceful so far, there is a risk that they could possibly escalate. Further gatherings and demonstrations are likely to continue, with potential to disrupt traffic and travel, leading to delays and the cancellation of services. New Zealanders in Spain are advised to avoid all demonstrations and protests.

General travel advice
The New Zealand Embassy website provides information on the assistance and guidance which can be provided to New Zealand citizens who are in serious distress.

New Zealanders travelling or living in Spain should have a comprehensive travel insurance policy in place.

New Zealanders in Spain are encouraged to register their details with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Travel tips

The New Zealand Embassy Madrid, Spain

Street Address Calle del Pinar, 7, 3rd floor, 28006 Madrid, Spain Telephone +34 915 230 226 Fax +34 915 230 171 Email Web Site Hours Mon-Fri 0900-1400, and 1500-1730, July and August: Mon-Fri 0830-1330 and 1400-1630

New Zealand Honorary Consulate Barcelona, Spain

Street Address C/Balmes 188 6º2ª, 08006, Barcelona, Spain Telephone +34 93 209 5048 Hours Monday – Thursday: 09:00-14:00 and 15:00-18:00, Friday: 09:00-15:00

See our regional advice for Europe

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New Zealand Embassy Spain

Street Address
Calle del Pinar, 7, 3rd floor, 28006 Madrid, Spain

Telephone: +34 915 230 226

Fax: +34 915 230 171



Hours: Mon-Fri 0900-1400, and 1500-1730, July and August: Mon-Fri 0830-1330 and 1400-1630

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