Speed limits in Spain – your complete guide

Speed limits in Spain – your complete guide
If you are looking at taking a trip to Spain this summer and are planning on driving while over there, it is important to know the speed limits and rules of the road.

According to Statista, more than 4.3 million Brits travelled to somewhere in Spain, so knowing what the laws are when you are behind the wheel is vital if you want to avoid any unwanted trouble on your vacation.

This guide looks at the current speed limits, the recent changes to the rules of foreign drivers, and what you’ll need to bring with you – along with some helpful tips that can help make your next trip to Spain an unforgettable experience.

Preparing for your trip to Spain

Packing the car for a European road trip is an important step if you are to have an enjoyable holiday.

Whether you are planning to drive from the UK to Spain, or are looking at hiring a car when you are in the country, make sure the vehicle is up to the task for you and your passengers. You could consider taking our car hire excess insurance to cover you for the excess fee that car hire companies can charge you if the hire car is damaged or stolen. If you decide to share a car with multiple drivers, by law you must be insured. RAC Temporary Car Insurance provides cover from a minimum of one hour to a maximum of 30 days.

Before heading off on any long journey it’s always a good idea to carry out some quick checks that you can do on a vehicle to make sure your car is good to go.  

Also, before you set off on your journey, make sure you take out European Breakdown Cover. Check out our annual or single trip cover, you can also see how the RAC European Breakdown Cover compares to providers such as the AA and Greenflag.

The driving specifications across Spain and the rest of Europe are different to those in the UK, meaning you need more items in your safety kit than usual.

Grab a European Driving kit to make sure that you have everything you need to comply with the different driving requirements. It also includes items that can ensure your safety in case of an emergency so that you have peace of mind.

Also, make sure you have important documents with you at all times if you are behind the wheel - like your travel insurance

What documents will you need to drive in Spain?

Now that your car is packed and ready to go, there is one last check you need to make.

In order to drive in Spain, you will need a full, valid UK driving licence, your UK passport, your car insurance certificate, and V5 registration form. The final two will only be needed if you are driving your own vehicle while in the country. You must be over the age of 18 to drive in Spain.

RAC European Breakdown Cover provides a wide range of benefits should you breakdown in Spain to ensure you stay safe. 

The RAC also offers travel insurance. Cover will include medical expenses, baggage, personal money, and belongings, among many other benefits.

Finally, the distinguishing mark (or national identifier) displayed on vehicles registered in the United Kingdom that are driven abroad have changed from GB to UK. 

This means that vehicles registered in the UK must display the letters “UK” when driven in Spain.  

In Spain, the sticker must be visible no matter what is on your number plate.

Speed limits in Spain

Like most of Europe, Spanish speed limits are measured in km/h rather than mp/h – so make sure you are reading your dashboard correctly.

Motorway speed limitsUrban rural road speed limits
Cars and motorbikes120 km/hCars and motorbikes90
Vans and mini-buses100 km/hVans and mini-buses80
Vehicles with trailers weighing less than 750kg90 km/hVehicles with trailers weighing less than 750kg70
Vehicles with trailers weighing more than 750kg80 km/hVehicles with trailers weighing more than 750kg60

Built-up areas with urban roads in Spain come with a speed limit that applies to all types of vehciles. They can travel 50 km/h on roads with two lanes per direction, 30 km/h for one lane per direction, and 20 km/h on roads shared with pedestrians.

Like many countries around the world, the speed limit on motorways in Spain can be changed via smart motorways and variable speed limits. Be aware of the signs and adjust your speed limit accordingly.

Weather condition, accidents, roadblocks and more can all impact the limits on the motorways.

If you are towing a caravan, then the speed limits are slightly different compared to normal vehicles.

Drivers must adhere to a speed limit of 80km/h on motorways and 70 km/h on single lane carriageways.

Finally, if you are travelling on Spanish motorways – there is a minimum speed limit of 60mp/h. This is reduced by 10km/h in difficult driving conditions.

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Spanish speeding fines

The speed limits outlined above were updated in 2019, so for anyone who thinks they are prepared for the laws on Spanish roads, beware of the current limits.

Otherwise, you could face a heavy fine! However, unlike some countries, if you are caught speeding in Spain, it is unlikely you will get any points on your UK Licence (unless you break a more serious law while behind the wheel).

Fines range from €100 to €600 – and a short summary can be seen below.

Speed limitExceeding by (up to xx km/h)Fine in €
50 km/h20100
80 km/h30100
100 km/h30100
120 km/h30100

Changes to driving laws

For Brits that have made their trip to Spain a permanent one – there have been some drastic changes to driving laws since Brexit came into effect.

In May 2022, new rules came not force in Spain that now means that expat British drivers are now banned from driving in the country.

If you have been resident for more than six months and have not exchanged your UK licence for a Spanish one, you will no longer be able to drive using your UK licence.

However, if you moved south after January 1st 2022, your UK licence will only be recognised for another six months from the date you took up residence in Spain.

The law applies to UK, Gibraltar, Jersey, Guernsey, or Isle of Man licence.

Following the announcement, a Foreign Office spokesperson said: "An agreement to swap UK driving licences for Spanish licences has not yet been reached. From May 1st, UK licence holders who have been resident in Spain for more than six months and did not exchange their licence during the transition period will no longer be able to drive legally in Spain.

“We have agreed to rapidly accelerate talks, and are urging the Spanish government to bring forward interim measures."

Learn more about the announcement here.

Driving in Spain

Before you set off on your Spanish adventure, there are some important things to remember when driving across the country.

In addition to required documents, British motorists in the country are required by law to carry the following items when driving to avoid hefty on-the-spot fines from the police.

In your car, you will need reflective jackets for yourself and all passengers. However, these might not be mandatory in some places, but you will be fined for walking on the road or hard shoulder if not wearing one if your car does breakdown.

You will also need a warning triangle and headlamp beam deflectors with you on your journey.

For anyone driving a motorbike or taking a bicycle on the road, crash helmets are compulsory. Motorcycles on the road must have their lights on at all times.

Finally, around 20% of Spanish motorways will have tolls that cost up to €30 – so keep an eye out for the ‘autopistas’ and get in the correct lane.

Have an amazing Spanish road trip!

FREE car health check*

FREE car health check*

For a limited time, get FREE car health check with European breakdown cover.

FREE car health check*

*Ends 13/12/23. 9am. Bookings subject to garage availability.