Driving in Spain: tips and regulations

Let’s take a look at some tips and rules for driving in Spain. The summer holidays are approaching, and Spain is one of the most visited European countries during these months: its history, gastronomy, good weather, incredible natural landscapes and thousands of kilometres of beaches are just some of the reasons. The best alternative for visiting distant places is by car, which offers freedom of timetables and the possibility of changing plans at any time.

What documents do I need to drive in Spain?

Those over 18 who hold a driving licence issued in any EU country can drive in Spain with their driving licence. Holders of a licence from a third country will need their national driving licence, an international driving licence and a passport, all of which are valid, although there are exceptions for long-term residents in Spain. The Spanish embassy or consulate nearest to your home will be able to advise you of the requirements in special cases.

Is it a good idea to drive in Spain?

In Spain, people drive on the right-hand side of the road. Spanish roads and road regulations are similar to those in countries such as France and Ireland, and very similar to those in the UK. In this article we are going to look at the rules that are important to remember before setting off on a car journey in Spain.

Spain has modern and safe roads. There are high-capacity toll roads (called “autopistas” and recognisable by their short name, AP-X), but most Spanish roads, including many high-capacity roads, are free. Toll roads are well signposted and payment can be made by credit card. Users of French and Portuguese automatic toll payment systems can pay with this device on some Spanish “autopistas”. The supplier of your device can provide you with an updated list prior to your journey.

Driving rules in Spain

Mobile phone: The driver is not allowed to manipulate the mobile phone or other electronic devices, including GPS, while driving. The fine is €200, and must be paid on the spot if officers stop the vehicle.

Alcohol at the wheel: the alcohol level cannot exceed 0.5 grams per litre of blood. The alcohol limit is lower for professional drivers and novice drivers (0.3 g/l). The fine will be 500 or 1000 euros, and in very high rates can be punished with the withdrawal of the driving licence and imprisonment.

It is forbidden to overtake on the right, to ride on continuous white lines and to exceed the established speed limits. These and other rules, such as the mandatory use of helmets on motorbikes, are common in most European countries.

Two emergency warning triangles and at least one reflective waistcoat must be carried in the car. Transport vehicles and any vehicle with a trailer must also carry a fire extinguisher.

Speed limits in Spain

The most common speed limits on Spanish roads are as follows:

  • 30 km/h in urban areas.
  • 90 km/h on national roads.
  • 120 km/h on motorways.

Speed limits on national roads and motorways are lower for heavy vehicles such as vans, motorhomes, buses and lorries.

Excessive speeding is punishable by fines of 100 to 600 euros.

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