Customs in Madrid Airport: Average Wait Times (+Tips)

Navigating customs and border security through any airport can be time-consuming and stressful – and Madrid Airport is no exception! 

Since Madrid Airport is the most active airport in all of Spain, both EU and non-EU citizens can benefit from effective strategies for navigating customs. 

In this article, we’ll provide critical information when it comes to customs guidelines and citizenship-based discrepancies, as well as helpful tips on ways to get through customs with ease.

We’ll cover: 

  • The optimal timing to clear customs at Madrid Airport
  • Tips for making declarations (and what should be declared) 
  • Restrictions and regulations 
  • Tips for purchasing items abroad.

Let’s get straight into it!

passengers wait for Departure in Madrid Airport

Average Wait Times for Customs in Madrid Airport, Spain 

The average wait time to clear customs in the airport can vary. However, it typically takes around 20 to 30 minutes to pass through customs at Madrid-Barajas Airport, depending on several factors such as your EU status, time of the day, and whether you have items to declare before the customs.

Time of Day

Madrid Airport is the busiest airport in Spain. As such, expect there to be plenty of people queuing alongside you at customs. 

Generally, there are fewer flights scheduled to arrive after midnight, so you may have an easier time with customs clearance during these hours.

Day of the Week

The airport is busy virtually every day of the week, but it’s particularly crowded around the holidays and during the months when it’s best to visit Spain (from March to May, and from September to November).

Flight Origin and Volume

Since Madrid Airport welcomes arrivals from Asia, America, Africa, the Middle East, and Europe all year round, expect that there to be plenty of people queuing for customs clearance.

Passenger Types: Different Queues for EU Citizens, Non-EU Citizens, and Connecting Flights

Exact wait times can vary depending on EU status; EU citizens can expect a queue time of about 20 minutes, while non-EU passengers wait for about half an hour.

Customs Declarations

If you’re bringing certain items with you, you may need to declare them during customs. Note that since Spain is part of the EU, there are certain items you can’t bring into the country such as animal food products, unauthorized weapons, and drugs.

Security and Health Measures

You can expect typical security measures, but this is more prominent when departing the country. As of June 2023, COVID-19 tests are not required to travel to Spain.

Tips for Getting through Customs Quickly

Organize Travel Documents Beforehand

Place your passport, visa documents, plane ticket(s), customs report, and other travel documents into a separate folder that is easy to access during the customs process. 

Declare Items Truthfully and Openly

Nearing the end of a flight into Madrid Airport, a document will be allocated to each passenger (or family) that clearly outlines the items that require declaration. 

Filling this document out honestly and thoroughly will inform the customs officer adequately, resulting in an easier experience for the traveler. 

TIP: Bring a pen for customs forms!

Be Aware of Restrictions

Restrictions vary depending on the country of origin and destination, so gaining information specific to Spain and Madrid Airport is essential. 

In most cases, countries will reject perishable food, any risks to biosecurity (such as plants and animals), some drugs and medications, and weapons.

Should you have any uncertainty, visit this website to learn more.

Follow Customs Officers’ Instructions 

As stated previously, preparing documents (as well as all travel information) properly will make any instructions from the customs officer easier to follow. Following rules and requests will help you gain faster clearance.

Select Appropriate Queue 

It is recommended that non-EU citizens look for the queue that is the furthest on the right, as Madrid airport has been reported to open EU citizen queues for non-EU citizens during busier times.

Being in close proximity to the new queue will dramatically reduce the time spent in customs for non-EU citizens.

Try to Avoid Peak Travel Times

In Madrid, the busiest times for traveling to the airport are between 7:30 to 9:30 in the morning and 6 to 8 in the evening. 

Therefore, it is best to book an early morning or afternoon flight whenever possible! 

Use “Nothing To Declare” Lane

Many European airports (including Madrid Airport) have specific lanes designed to cater to passengers who do not have any items to declare. 

However, if a passenger enters this queue and is carrying items that should have been declared, they will likely be forced to forfeit those items. If there are any uncertainties, it is better to declare than risk forfeiting items. 

Keep Proof of Purchase

If any times are purchased while abroad, keeping a financial record through digital or hard-copy receipts will allow the customs officer to have all of the necessary information regarding any purchases made while traveling.

Stay Informed about Rules and Current Regulations

For more specific information pertaining to Madrid Airport customs regulations – especially when it comes to items in your hand luggage – visit this website! It’s important to remember that every airport is different.

FAQs on Madrid Airport Customs

Do You Have to Go Through Customs on a Layover in Madrid?

Transit passengers may need to completely exit their terminal in Madrid to check in again for their flight at a different terminal. In this case, a layover may require going through customs as you are essentially entering the country.

How Long Does It Take To Get Through Passport Control at Madrid Airport?

It takes approximately 20–30 minutes to get through passport control at Madrid airport, but several factors (such as country of nationality and EU status) will affect these times. As such, it is advisable to allocate excess time for all border and passport-related procedures.

What Is Not Allowed at Customs?

As a general rule, weapons, biosecurity hazards (foreign plants, animals, etc.), perishable foods and beverages, and certain medications are not permissible in customs. However, as there are items within these guidelines that are permitted, it is encouraged that you read through current restrictions in customs.

What to Expect at Customs in Madrid?

Customs officers will request the declaration form and may ask for purchase information to understand any items that the traveler has declared. Then, the customs officer may ask questions about the nature of this visit and the approximate departure date. Once completed, approval will be stamped on your passport.

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