Driving in Spain

Published 30/06/2009

Apart from driving on the opposite side of the road compared to the UK, there are other rules in Spain that differ to that of other countries, including the minimum age for car rentals...

If you are a resident, non-resident, E.U. citizen or from outside the European Community and you are intending to drive in Spain there are some basic rules you should be aware of. You may have already noticed that we Spaniards park our cars wherever it suits us, on zebra crossings, on pavements, on roundabouts etc. but please do not copy our bad habits or you could receive an expensive fine!

The first point to note is that the minimum age to drive in Spain is eighteen. However, it is not possible to rent a car under the age of twenty one and this rule applies to everyone, residents and holiday makers. Apart from being the correct age all E.U. citizens need to be able to drive in Spain is a current driving license. Non E.U. citizens require an international license, valid for one year, that is issued in their home country but is not valid for driving in that country. It is a special license which allows them to be able to drive outside their home country.

Non-resident E.U. citizens can drive freely in Spain using their European license for a period of six non-consecutive months in any given year without any further procedure.  After the maximum six  months period  they  will  have  to  register  their driving  licence   at  the  corresponding Traffic Authority: 

To do this one has to present the following documents:
• Original driving license
• Passport
• Residency Certificate
• Padron Certificate 

Residents can continue driving with their registered European license until it expires. Close   to  the expiry date   there are   two   different  possibilities regarding  how   to  proceed:  They  can  apply for a Spanish driving license at their nearest Jefatura Local de Tráfico (Traffic Office) or it is possible to renew their European license by presenting it at the Embassy or Consulate. 

If  the   choice  is  to  obtain  a Spanish  licence,  the  documentation to  be produced  is  the  following:  
• Original  (valid) driving license
• Medical certificate
• 2 passport  photographs
• administration   charge  (currently 18.40€) 

Non E.U. citizens, resident in Spain, should apply for a Spanish driving license within one year of obtaining the Spanish residency certificate. Only citizens of the E.U., Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland will be able to change their license to a Spanish one without having to re-take their driving test.

Fines and parking
• Non-residents driving in Spain should be aware that if they are stopped by the Guardia Civil or the police due to a traffic infringement they must pay the fine on the spot. Residents have the option to pay later but will have points deducted from their license. 
• It is totally prohibited to park on a yellow line or in prohibited zones, generally where there is a vehicle entrance/exit. In the larger cities there are blue line areas where you can park for a maximum of two hours when purchasing a ticket. 
• If you park your car in a prohibited place it will be towed away and you will find a sticker in its place indicating the telephone number and address of the car compound. A fine and towing costs will be charged on collection of the vehicle. 
• It is important to note that the alchohol limit in Spain is 0.5 gms per litre and exceeding the limit results in the loss of license or even a prison sentence.
• If you are caught using your mobile whilst driving   you will receive a substantial   fine.  
Speed limits
Residential zones   20km per hour
Urban roads           50km per hour
National highways   90km per hour
Major highways      100km per hour
Motorways             120km per hour

Seat belts
All occupants of the vehicle, whether seated in the front or the rear, must wear seat belts. The driver is not responsible for any passenger not wearing a seat belt and the passenger has to pay the fine if they are caught by the Guardia Civil or police.

Children under twelve years of age must be seated at the back. The front seat can only be used in conjunction with a special baby seat.

Vehicle Insurance and Road Tax
It is obligatory to have a minimum of 3rd party cover vehicle insurance.

The Road Tax is paid annually to the corresponding Town Hall or collected by SUMA (tax collecting agency). The cost depends on the area and the make of vehicle.

What should be carried in the vehicle
Current driving license
Insurance certificate
Vehicle registration documents (including MOT/ITV certificate)
Current Road Tax receipt
Set of replacement light bulbs and tools to change them
2 warning triangles
Fluorescent jacket
First aid kit
Spare set of spectacles
Spare wheel and necessary tools

It is permissible to drive a vehicle in Spain registered in any other E.U. country for a maximum period of six months. Any further length of time then the owner of the vehicle is considered resident and has two months from obtaining the Spanish Residency Certificate to import the vehicle and change the registration plate to a Spanish one.

Article origin - Abaco news