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Driving in Spain

General Info

Spanish flagPopulation: 46m

Area: 506,030 sq. km

Currency: Euro (100 cents) - EUR (€)



Top 10 popular attractions: 

  • Palacio Real
  • Running of the Bulls
  • La Concha
  • Aqueduct of Segovia
  • Cuenca
  • Ibiza
  • Sagrada Familia
  • El Escorial
  • Mezquita of Cordoba
  • Alhambra

Essentials

Driving licence:

Visitors riding or driving in Spain must have reached the minimum ages laid down for residents of Spain even if they are qualified to drive at a lower age in their country of residence.

A foreign driving licence does not entitle the holder to drive a motor vehicle in Spain until the age of 18yrs old.

Driving licences issued in EU and EEA countries are accepted.

International driving permits are recognised but not required.

Important documents:

Vehicles from the UK may be imported into Spain for up to 6 months in any period of 12 months. When driving in Spain the following documents should be carried:

  • Full, valid driving licence* (with paper counterpart)
  • Proof of insurance (third party or above)
  • Proof of ID (Passport)
  • Proof of ownership (V5C Certificate) 

*International Driving Permits are recognised but not compulsory

While driving in Spain you are required by law to carry the following items. Hefty on-the-spot fines can be issued for failing to carry specific items:

  • Reflective jackets (Although not mandatory to carry, someone walking on the road or hard shoulder can be fined if not wearing one)
  • Warning triangle (compulsory in every vehicle with 4 wheels or more) (Residents must carry 2)
  • Headlamp beam deflectors (Depending on your car, you will either need deflector stickers or have to adjust the beam manually)
  • Motorcyclists: Crash helmets are compulsory for riders of mopeds, motorcycles, trikes and quads, unless these are equipped with seat belts. Motorcycles on the road must have their lights on at all times.

    *Lights (It is no longer compulsory for vehicles to carry a set of spare bulbs and the tools to fit them)

Rules of the road & regulations

Rules of the road:

  • Overtaking & passing

    Vehicles and combinations of vehicles exceeding 10m in length and vehicles exceeding 3.5 t must keep a distance of at least 50m with the vehicle in front, except in built-up areas, on roads where overtaking is prohibited and when there are several lanes in the same direction or when the traffic is so heavy that it is not possible to overtake another vehicle.
  • Priority

    As a general rule, drivers approaching an intersection must give way to all vehicles coming from the right.

    At a roundabout, drivers already engaged in the roundabout have priority over drivers approaching the roundabout.

    Drivers on secondary roads must give way to vehicles coming from either direction when entering a main road.

    Vehicles on rails and emergency vehicles have priority over other road users.
  • Warning of approach

    Unnecessary use of audible warning devices is prohibited. Warning signals must be brief in built-up areas, and local authorities may prohibit the use of such signals completely. Signs indicate this prohibition. In urban areas it is prohibited to sound the horn at any time, except in an emergency. In places where audible warning is prohibited, drivers must flash their lights.

Towing:

In the case of a camper van exceeding 12m in length, and a car + caravan/trailer combination exceeding 12m, there must be 1 or 2 yellow reflectors (either one long reflector, size about 130 x 25cm, or two shorter 50 x 25cm reflectors) at the rear of the camper van or caravan/trailer.

Seat belts:

The wearing of seat belts is compulsory on the front seats of all private vehicles. Vehicles manufactured after 15th June 1992 must also wear seatbelts in the rear of the vehicle.

Travelling with children:

Children up to the age of 12 and measuring less than 135cm travelling on the front seat of a car must be seated in a child restraint system adapted to their size and weight. Children measuring more than 135cm may use an adult seat belt.

Children fewer than 135cm travelling on the rear seat must also be placed in a child restraint system adapted to their size and weight, except when travelling in a taxi in an urban area.

Speed limits:

The following national speed limits apply:

  Motorways & dual carriageways Roads with more than one lane in each direction Ordinary roads
Motorcycle & car 120 km/h 100 km/h 90 km/h

Drivers of cars and motorcycles may exceed the limits shown by 20km/h in order to overtake a slower vehicle outside built-up areas, on roads with one lane in each direction.

The use of radar indicators and detectors is still allowed in Spain, but the ownership, transport or use of a radar jammer is strictly prohibited.

Motorways and dual carriageways may not be used by vehicles which cannot reach a minimum speed of 60km/h.

Penalties:

  • On-the-spot fines

    Police can impose fines on the spot. Fines may be reduced by 50% if the motorist pays within 20 days (not applicable for major offences).A fine can be contested within 15 days.

    Visiting motorists must pay their fines immediately (with this reduction) unless they give the name of a person or corporation in Spain willing to guarantee payment of the fine. Otherwise the vehicle will be confiscated until the fine is paid. They can then contest the fine through the legal system.
  • Criminal offences

    Some motoring offences are considered criminal offences and lead to much higher fines, as well as vehicle confiscation and possible prison sentences.
  • Confiscation of vehicles

    A vehicle can be immobilised because of mechanical defects, excess noise or pollution, lack of insurance or because the driver refuses to pay a fine, or is under the influence of alcohol.

Parking:

  • Parking regulations

    The blue parking zone ("zona azul" ou "zona O.R.A.") is indicated by signs. The maximum parking period is usually two hours during the day; there is no parking limit between 20:00 and 08:00 hours, depending on local dispositions.

    Vehicles parked during the night on inadequately lit streets must have their side lights illuminated.
  • Paid parking

    Road signs indicate the areas where parking is restricted and must be paid for, either at parking meters or automatic machines which issue tickets indicating the length of parking time which has been paid for.

    Some machines take debit/credit cards “stationnement à la carte”.
  • Enforcement of parking regulations

    Illegally parked vehicles may be towed away. This applies to temporarily imported vehicles as well as to those registered in Spain.

    A driver whose vehicle has been taken away must go to the nearest police station. In order to get his car back, he must pay the fine for the parking offence, plus the costs of towing together with a parking fee for the time during which the vehicle was impounded.
  • Disabled parking access

    Foreign disabled permits are recognised in Spain.

    Permits must be displayed on the inside of the windscreen, allowing the vehicle to be parked, with no time limit in zones which are for loading and unloading, and with a time limit in pedestrian zones, and at some places where parking is usually prohibited by signs, if permission has been granted by a traffic warden. 

Traffic lights:

  • Traffic lights

    The international 3-colour traffic light system is used.

    Green, amber and red arrows are used at some intersections

Drink/drug driving:

  • Legal limit

    General limit for drivers of private vehicles and cyclists: 0.05%

    After a traffic accident, all road users have to undergo a breath test.
  • Alcohol

    A driver (or cyclist) suspected of being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or who has committed a traffic offence must undergo a breath test for alcohol or a saliva test for drugs. If he/she refuses, the vehicle may be immobilised by the police, a 1 to 4-year suspension of the driving permit may be imposed, and he/she may receive a prison sentence of 6 months to 1 year.

Roads & fuel:

Tolls are levied on most Spanish motorways.

Most motorways have an electronic system of payment – “Telepeaje” or “Via T”.  Drivers can buy a small transmitter from banks or some petrol companies and fix it on the windscreen of the vehicle.

Service areas:

There are many services areas along the Spanish motorways.

Availability of fuel:

Unleaded petrol, diesel oil and lubricating oil are readily available throughout Spain.

The fuel SP95-E10, which contains up to 10% of ethanol and 90% of unleaded 95 petrol, is available. This fuel can be used in 60% of petrol-driven cars, especially in recent models.

  • Price of fuel (April 2014)

    Mainland Spain and Balearic Islands
Unleaded petrol (95 octane) 1.474 EUR per litre
Unleaded petrol (98 octane) 1.590 EUR per litre
Diesel 1.369 EUR per litre
LPG 0.736 EUR per litre

            Canary Islands


Unleaded petrol (95 octane) 1.056 EUR per litre
Unleaded petrol (98 octane) 1.123 EUR per litre
Diesel 1.031 EUR per litre
LPG 0.539 EUR per litre
  • Means of payment

Credit cards are generally accepted at petrol stations.

  • Automatic petrol pumps

Automatic petrol pumps are found in some large towns.

Emergencies:

Emergency telephones linked to an SOS telephone network are installed at 2 km intervals along the motorways.


Download  a copy of our Travelling in Spain guide.

Download  a copy of our full Driving Abroad report.


What RAC can do for you

RAC offers great-value, flexible RAC European breakdown cover tailored to meet your needs. We also offer comprehensive travel insurance, including cover for medical expenses, baggage, personal money and belongings. Whilst away, use our Route Finder for all your driving directions.


RAC can cover you against vehicle break down in Europe, with options available to suit your travelling requirements.

RAC European breakdown cover Basic and Comprehensive cover provides you with a wide range of benefits


Useful guides and maps

Michelin - National Map Spain & Portugal
Michelin Motoring Atlas: Europe
RAC Route Planner


Source: All information in this document is sourced from the AIT (Alliance Internationale de Tourisme) & the FIA (Federation Internationale de l'Automobile) and, to the best of the RAC’s knowledge, is correct at the time of publication (August 2013).


1 10% of all customers buying car insurance with us from 1st April 2014 to 30th September 2014 paid less than £149. Based on comprehensive car insurance, excluding any additional products and upgrades, with payment on an annual basis. Your premium will depend on your circumstances and the level of cover you choose.

Liverpool take on Real Madrid in the Champions League on 4 November. See this information and advice page for travelling fans.

A strike is affecting lifeguard services in the area of Arona, South Tenerife. Take extra care if there are no life-guards, flags or signs on beaches. See Outdoor activities

Over 12 million British nationals visit Spain every year. Most visits are trouble-free.

There have been several deaths as a result of falls from balconies. Don’t take any unnecessary risks, especially when under the influence of drink or drugs. See Balcony falls

There is a general threat from terrorism. See Terrorism

You should apply for a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before you travel. If you already have an EHIC, make sure it hasn’t expired. See Health

Some medical costs aren’t covered by the EHIC so you should also take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel.

On 6 October, the Spanish Ministry of Health confirmed that a nurse in Madrid had tested positive for Ebola. Although the chances of being infected remain very low, there are measures you can take to prevent catching Ebola. You should follow the health advice issued by the National Travel Health Network and Centre.

If you’re concerned that you might have been exposed to Ebola, or are showing symptoms, seek immediate medical advice. If you’re in the UK, call NHS 111. Information from the Spanish health authorities may be obtained via: + (34) 91 4000001 or sanidadinforma@salud.madrid.org

Be alert to the existence of street crime. Thieves tend to target money and passports so don’t keep them all in one place. Keep a copy of your passport somewhere safe. See Crime

The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks.

FCO TRAVEL ADVICE - know before you go - fco.gov.uk/travel

Office: British Embassy Madrid
Street Address: Torre Espacio
Postal Address: Paseo de la Castellana 259D
ZIP Code: 28046
City: Madrid
Country: Spain

Telephone: +34 917 146 300
Fax: +34 917 146 301

Email: Info.consulate@fco.gov.uk


Office: British Consulate Alicante
Street Address: Edificio Espacio
Postal Address: Rambla Méndez Núñez 28-32
ZIP Code: 03002
City: Alicante
Country: Spain

Telephone: +34 913 342 194
Fax: +34 965 14 05 28

Email: Info.consulate@fco.gov.uk


Office: British Consulate-General Barcelona
Street Address: Avda Diagonal 477 – 13
Postal Address:
ZIP Code: 08036
City: Barcelona
Country: Spain

Telephone: +34 913 342 194
Fax: +34 933 666 221

Email: Info.consulate@fco.gov.uk


Office: British Consulate Ibiza
Street Address: Avenida Isidoro Macabich 45
Postal Address: 1º1ª (corner with Calle Canarias)
ZIP Code: 07800
City: Ibiza
Country: Spain

Telephone: +34 913 342 194
Fax: +34 971 301 972

Email: Info.consulate@fco.gov.uk


Office: British Consulate Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
Street Address: Calle Luis Morote 6-3º
Postal Address: E-35007 Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
ZIP Code:
City: de Gran Canaria
Country: Spain

Telephone: +34 913 342 194
Fax: +34 928 267 774

Email: Info.consulate@fco.gov.uk


Office: British Consulate Malaga
Street Address: Calle Mauricio Moro Pareto, 2
Postal Address: Edificio Eurocom
ZIP Code: 29006
City: Malaga
Country: Spain

Telephone: +34 913 342 194
Fax: +34 95 235 9211

Email: Info.consulate@fco.gov.uk


Office: British Consulate Palma de Mallorca
Street Address: Carrer Convent dels Caputxins, 4
Postal Address: Edificio Orisba B 4ºD
ZIP Code: 07002
City: Palma de Mallorca
Country: Spain

Telephone: +34 913 342 194
Fax: +34 971 71 75 20

Email: Info.consulate@fco.gov.uk


Office: British Consulate Santa Cruz de Tenerife
Street Address: Plaza Weyler, 8, 1º
Postal Address:
ZIP Code: 38003
City: Santa Cruz de Tenerife
Country: Spain

Telephone: +34 913 342 194
Fax: +34 922 289 903

Email: Info.consulate@fco.gov.uk


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