preloadTossal del Faig is beautiful plane over the cliffs in the Catalan Pyrenees with nice views.

Driving in Spain

Whether you’re considering taking your car or hiring a vehicle for your next trip to Spain, read on to find out all the requirements and get some useful tips for driving in Spain.

Requirements for driving in Spain

Before you head off on your holiday or business trip in Spain by car, make sure you have examined all the rules and requirements.

Documents & car equipment

The minimum driving age in Spain is 18 years and you must have a valid UK driving licence with you. If you are heading to Spain in your own car, you will also need a number of additional documents that you must keep with you at all times. These are as follows:

  • Valid UK photocard driving licence
  • Valid Proof of ID or National ID Card for EU citizens
  • V5 certificate
  • Car insurance certificate
  • A GB sticker

In addition to the above documents, your car should be equipped with the following items:

  • Warning triangle
  • High-visibility jacket
  • Spare bulbs for headlights and indicator lights
  • Headlight beam deflectors
Driving around in Spain
Driving on road between the cliffs over the sea with curves and extreme terrain in the south of Barcelona

Driving in Spain after Brexit

The UK is no longer a member of the European Union. For this reason, you will also also need to have an International Driving Permit which you can buy from the nearest post office if your driving licence was not issued in the UK. This refers to licences issued by the respective authorities of Gibraltar, Guernsey or the Isle of Man. More information can be found here. You will also require a Green Card for your car, which you can get from your car insurance company.

Hiring a car in Spain

Read on to learn all the ins and outs of hiring a car in Spain and get some useful tips on things to look out for.

A man looking for a car to hire for a road trip in Spain.

What do you need to hire a car in Spain?

While the minimum legal driving age in Spain is 18, most car hire companies will require drivers to be at least 21 years of age before they consider hiring them a car. In addition to meeting the age requirement, you will need to have a full UK driving licence, an International Driving Permit (if your UK licence was not issued by mainland UK authorities such as Gibraltar, Guernsey or the Isle of Man), and your valid passport or National ID card for EU citizens for identification. You will also need a credit card to pay for the car hire deposit, though a few car hire agencies will also accept debit cards. As a minimum requirement, you will need to have third-party liability insurance in order to hire a car in Spain.

Tips for hiring a car in Spain

When picking up your car hire, make sure you inspect it well and note down any existing marks and scratches. Then, when you return it, take some good photos of the outside and the inside of the car as proof of its condition. If you don’t have your own external insurance policy, make sure you double-check that insurance is included in the hire contract, and if you do have external insurance, make sure that you’re not paying twice for the same coverage.

If you plan on crossing the border and driving into other countries, you must tell the agency beforehand as they need to ensure you have adequate insurance for all the locations you’ll be visiting. Make sure you try to negotiate unlimited mileage to avoid paying money for driving a few extra miles, and if you’ve been asked to return the tank full, check that it is also full when you pick it up. Upon returning the car, stop at the closest petrol station to the agency to refuel it.

Tips for hiring a car in Spain

Search for hire cars

Rules on the road in Spain

Rules on the road in Spain

Minimum driving age

The minimum legal driving age in Spain is 18 for cars, but you can drive mopeds from the age of 15 and 125cc motorcycles from the age of 16.

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Speed limits

The speed limit in Spain is 50km/h (about 30mph) for cars and motorcycles driving on ordinary roads in built-up areas, while on motorways in built-up areas the speed limit is generally 80km/h (about 50mph). When you go outside these areas, the limit on ordinary roads is 90km/h (about 55mph), while on roads that have more than one lane for each direction you can drive as fast as 100km/h (about 60mph). On motorways the speed limit is 120km/h (about 75mph). Please remember that speed limits in Spain are displayed on the roads in km/h.

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Motorways & Road tolls

Only 20% of the motorways in Spain have toll fees associated with them, however they are not distributed equally between the regions: about half of the toll roads are in Catalonia. To pay for driving on a toll road you can use either cash or card; usually you will get a ticket upon entering the paid road. Upon exiting you then insert the ticket into the automated machine to have your fee calculated.

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Priority & roundabouts

When entering a roundabout, you must give priority to vehicles that are already on the roundabout, and once you are on it you must only exit from the outside lane. If you are entering a roundabout with multiple lanes, you must choose your lane according to where you will be exiting, starting from the right-hand lane if you are taking the next exit, with the leftmost lane for drivers who will be taking the last exit.

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Alcohol allowance & drink driving

For cyclists and drivers of private vehicles the limit for alcohol in the blood is 0.05%, which is lower than the UK limit of 0.08%. There are some cases where the limit is even lower, sitting at 0.03% for drivers of vehicles carrying eight or more passengers, vehicles transporting goods, vehicles used to transport children, and public and emergency service vehicles. In addition, this lower percentage applies to (young) drivers who have held their driving licence for less than two years.

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Child seats regulations

Children who measure less than 4.5ft (or 135cm) must travel in a child seat adapted to their size. Children who measure over 4.5ft and are under 12 years of age are allowed to use adult seat belts.

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Penalties & Fines

Speeding fines in Spain can range from €100 (about £90) to €600 (about £535) for more serious speeding offences. Other reasons you might get fined include not having the right paperwork in your car, parking offences and using a mobile phone while driving. If your driving license states that you must wear glasses or contact lenses while driving, and you do not, you will be breaking the law and will be fined €200.
It is possible to get fined on the spot by a police officer, and you can pay for your fine straight away or later at the post office. If you pay within 20 days, you might get the amount reduced by 50%.

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Means of payment

In Spain you can usually pay with cash in euros or with credit and debit cards.

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Paid parking spots are generally indicated by a blue zone and you will find a parking meter located within walking distance. You must purchase a ticket and display it clearly on your dashboard. Make sure you read the signpost for the maximum time allowed, as there is usually a limit of one to two hours. At some hours of the day, parking may be free, such as during siesta time or between 8pm and 8am. Other colours usually indicate residential car parks and you are not allowed to park there unless you have a resident’s permit. Disabled parking is available for those who have a permit issued by the municipality. Cars with the disabled permit can park in a wider range of spaces, such as loading zones for an unlimited time or pedestrian zones for a limited time.

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When refuelling your car in Spain, look for the words “gasolina sin plomo” if you are after unleaded petrol, while diesel is called “gasóleo A”, and LPG is indicated by “autogas”. You can usually pay in cash or by card at most petrol stations, and automatic petrol pumps can be found in the major areas.

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Driving in Spain – FAQs

In order to drive in Spain, you must be 18 years or over and have a valid UK driving licence and passport or National ID card for EU citizens, as well as an International Driving Permit if your UK licence was not issued by mainland authorities such as Gibraltar, Guernsey and the Isle of Man. In addition, your car needs to have car insurance, a V5C certificate and the GB sticker.

In order to hire a car in Spain you will need to have a full UK driving licence, an International Driving Permit (if your UK licence was not issued by mainland authorities), your valid passport or National ID card for EU citizens as identification and a credit card to pay for the car hire deposit.

The minimum legal age for hiring a car in Spain is 18, however most car hire agencies require drivers to be at least 21 years of age.

When looking at car hire online, cars in Spain might seem cheaper than other countries at first glance because only the basic price is quoted. Insurance and additional fees must be added before you get the final price.

British passport holders living in or wishing to travel to the EU and EU nationals living in or wishing to travel to the UK from the 1st January 2021 are to be advised that all travel-related information found on our website is based on current UK/EU relations and, therefore, may still be subject to change. Please visit this this official webpage to inform yourself about all and any information pertinent to Brexit when making travel decisions.