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Advice for travelling safely

Driving. How do you drive in Spain?

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If you are thinking of driving in Spain, you will surely be interested in finding out beforehand how to rent a car and whether your driving licence is compatible in this country, and what is required to get valid international insurance. Find out all about it below.

  • What driving licences can you use in Spain?

    All European Union driving licences and international driving licences are valid in Spain. Remember that the latter is only valid for one year and to get one you must have a licence to drive in your country. The minimum age for driving in Spain is 18 years of age.

    If you are coming to Spain in your own car, you will have to ask for a temporary circulation permit for the vehicle at Customs. It is valid for six months, after which you must register your car in Spain. In all cases, the vehicle’s number plate should include an oval sticker indicating the country it comes from (for cars from the European Union, the EU flag on current number plates is sufficient).

    Also, remember that it is absolutely necessary to have valid international insurance. With regard to driving insurance, if you're from the European Union, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Andorra or Croatia, you'll need to have the insurance policy with you together with the receipt justifying its validity. If you are from Albania, Azerbaijan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Byelorussia, Iran, Israel, Macedonia, Morocco, Moldavia, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, Russia or Montenegro, you must get a Green Card or International Civil Liability Insurance Certificate. For all other cases, it will be necessary to take out Border Insurance.

    Since conditions may vary, we suggest that you contact the Spanish Embassy or Consulate to verify these requirements before you start your trip.

  • How do you rent a car?

    To rent a vehicle in Spain, you must be at least 21 years old and have a valid driving licence. Many companies also require you to have had your driving licence for a minimum of one or two years. To complete the car hire process, you will need a credit card.

    Remember that if more than one person is going to drive, the others must appear as additional drivers on the contract. Also, the rate tends to be higher for those under the age of 25.

    In Spain, it is usual for rental cars to have manual transmission and the rate for those with automatic transmission tend to be higher.

  • What are the most important rules?

    In Spain, we drive on the right, safety belts are mandatory for all the occupants of the vehicle and there are speed limits on all roads. These are 120 km/h on dual carriageways and motorways, 90 km/h on all other roads and 30 km/h in built-up areas.

    Other important rules are:

    It is forbidden to talk on a mobile phone without a hands-free device or to handle one while driving.

    Overtaking can only be done on the left side of the car which you wish to pass.

    Children under 135 centimetres in height cannot sit in the front seat and they must always use an approved restraint system. It is recommended to use a restraint system with a back until the child is over 150 centimetres tall. These instructions also apply to taxis, so if you want to travel with a baby in a taxi, you must carry an approved restraint system.

    If you drink, don’t drive: blood alcohol levels must not exceed 0.5 g/l (0.25 mg/l in exhaled air).

    Helmets must be worn on motorbikes, mopeds and bicycles.

    Parking in public thoroughfares is not always permitted or free. In many cities the parking areas are regulated and subject to payment. Normally these can be identified by the presence of parking meters in the vicinity.

  • Which roads have tolls and which do not?

    In Spain, the vast majority of roads in the national network are free to use. These include motorways (independent roads in each direction and with no intersections at the same level).

    Nevertheless, there is a series of roads that may require the payment of a toll. These are the motorways. The cost varies in each case, but there are generally alternative routes that are free to use.

    You can check the highways that require toll payment on this website.

    Tolls may be paid in cash, by credit card or using electronic toll services (requires the installation of a device in the car)

  • What should you do if you get a fine?

    Traffic violations sanctioned in the Road Safety Act must always be paid. There are two possibilities when you receive a traffic fine:

    If you are informed of the fine when the violation is committed, it can be paid on the spot. If it is not possible to pay it, the Civil Guard may impound the vehicle until it is paid.

    If you are informed of the fine by post, you will have various options to pay:

       Using the telephone number 060 (from Spain): the service is in Spanish only. Payment is made by credit card.

       Online: from the General Directorate of Traffic of Spain

       At branches of La Caixa (Caixabank).

       At Spanish post offices. At Provincial Traffic Offices using a credit or debit card.

    Remember: if the fine is paid within 20 calendar days, there is a 50% reduction on the amount of the fine.