A Holidaymaker’s Guide to Driving in Spain

6th August, 2021, in Travel Advice & Guides

Spain is a hugely popular tourist destination and it’s easy to see why. With a warm climate, historic cities and beautiful landscapes, there’s plenty for tourists to see and do across the country. Lots of holidaymakers in Spain find that driving is a great way to explore all of the charming rural areas that might be cut off from the urban hubs. No matter where you fly into, there are a host of options available to you across the country. Arrive at Barcelona airport and head out to experience Catalan culture or venture from Valencia airport to enjoy the stunning city, the choices are endless.

Hiring a car in Spain will give you the freedom to go wherever you’d like. Driving in Spain is relatively straightforward – as long as you remember to drive on the right-hand side of the road if you’re used to driving in countries where left is the norm. Even so, there are a few things you need to know about driving in Spain to ensure your holiday goes smoothly.

What Documents Do I Need When Driving in Spain?

If you are renting a car in Spain, you must be at least 21 years old. You will need to have a valid driving licence on you at all times when driving. You should also carry a proof of ID, like your passport.

If you are driving your own car in Spain, you will need to carry your driving licence and passport, plus the V5 registration document for your car and the insurance certificate.

What Do I Need in My Car in Spain?

To avoid a fine, you should always carry the following items in your car:

  • A warning triangle
  • Headlamp beam deflectors (these will either be deflector stickers, or you will need to manually adjust the beam yourself)
  • Reflective jacket (these aren’t mandatory to have in the car, but you could get a fine if you’re not wearing one whilst walking on the road or hard shoulder)

As of August 2021, drivers no longer need to have an insurance green card when taking their own vehicles to Spain. Unlike some other European countries, you do not need to carry a breathalyser with you in the car in Spain.

From 28th September 2021, the sticker displayed on cars to identify the nationality will change from GB to UK. If you are driving in Spain after this date, you should have a ‘UK’ sticker displayed clearly on your car, regardless of what is on your number place.

Spanish Tolls

There are many toll-free motorways in Spain, but the toll roads can sometimes provide a quicker option if you need to get to your destination quicker. The toll roads typically work by taking a ticket at a booth when you enter the road and then paying the sum at another booth when you leave at the other end. You can usually pay by cash or card and there will be separate lanes for each payment type.

What Else Do I Need to Know When Driving in Spain?

There used to be a law in Spain that people who need to wear glasses when driving must carry a spare pair with them in the car. This is no longer in place, but you should always make sure to wear your glasses if you require them to drive.

Seat belts are mandatory for everyone in the vehicle. You should not use a mobile phone when you drive unless you are speaking through a hands-free kit. The rules for drink driving are quite strict – your blood alcohol level should not exceed 0.5 g/l. It may be best to avoid alcohol even if you’re just having one drink.

Children under 135cm tall should not sit in the front passenger seat and a suitable child seat should be used until the child is over 150cm tall. These rules also apply to taxis, so you will need to carry an approved restraint system for your young children if you want to travel with them in a taxi.

If you are driving a vehicle that is longer than 10m or is heavier than 3.5 tonnes, you should keep at least 50m away from the vehicle in front of you.

What Should I Do If I Have an Accident?

You’ll find emergency telephones at 2km intervals along the motorways in Spain. These are all linked to an SOS telephone network so you can easily contact someone to get help in an accident.

If you’re not on the motorway, you can ring 112 from anywhere in Europe and an operator will connect you to the emergency services you require from the country you’re calling from.

It is mandatory to have valid international car insurance so you’re covered in an accident. If you’re renting a car, this should be included in your package and you should contact your car hire provider to let them know if you have an accident. You should make sure to check the contract before you travel -in the event of an accident, you could be liable to pay excess charges up to £2,000. Direct Car Hire Excess offers excess insurance for car hire abroad from just £0.12 / €0.14 / $0.16 per day, so you’ll be covered in the event of an accident and won’t have to pay out extreme excess charges.

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