Top Ten Tips for Driving in Spain

You have probably driven in Spain on holiday but have you ever checked out the rules you should know before you set off? 


Certainly, if you plan to live in Spain, it is worth reminding yourself of new laws and general rules for driving in the country. Here are a few things to bear in mind.



If you are driving a right hand drive car, you will need to adjust your headlights for driving on the right side of the road, instead of on the left. You can do this temporarily with strips but if you import a car, you will need to have them properly adjusted.



As a resident or visitor you are required to carry the following documents in the vehicle:

  1. A full, valid driving licence.
  2. Proof of Insurance. Normally this is a photocopy of your car insurance payment plus the policy note.
  3. Proof of ownership (the car registration document).
  4. ITV (MOT) inspection certificate.
  5. If you don’t have a Spanish driving licence, you will need to show your passport if stopped by the police.



By law you are required to carry certain items in your vehicle and you will incur heavy fines if you are found not have complied.

  1. Reflective jackets for all passengers
  2. 2 warning triangles
  3. Crash helmets are compulsory for riders of mopeds, motorcycles, trikes and quads, unless these are equipped with seat belts. Motorcycles on the road must have their lights on at all times.
  4. Seatbelts must be worn by front and rear passengers and the driver. Children under 12 must be placed in a suitable car seat or booster seat and may not travel in the front passenger seat.
  5. A spare pair of spectacles if you use them for driving.



On autopistas (motorways), the limit is 120 kph, on autovias (roads with more than one lane in each direction) it is 100 kph, on side roads 90 kph and in urban areas it varies from 30 kph to 50 kph.


  1. FINES

In Spain, these can be on-the-spot for visitors to the country. Residents can have their fine reduced by 50% if the pay within 20 days, though this does not apply to serious offences. You can appeal against a fine within 15 days of issue. Ask for an official receipt if you have to pay an on-the-spot fine.



The Spanish government is keen to clamp down on these and the limits are extremely low. For drivers of private vehicles and cyclists it is just 0.05%. Don’t think about having that one for the road!


If you are found to be over the limit or to have drugs in your system, the police can immobilise or impound your vehicle, your licence may be suspended for 1 to 4 years and you could receive a prison sentence of 6 months to 1 year. You have been warned.



In towns blue zones are paid parking areas, except between 8.30 pm and 8.00 a.m. Where you see white lines, you may park for free. Car parks tend to have narrow spacing, especially those underground, so tricky for larger vehicles. As in the UK, illegally parked cars will be towed away by the police. You will need to go to the nearest Police station to get it back, and will have to pay the fine for the parking offence, plus the costs of towing together with a parking fee for the time during which the vehicle was impounded.


Foreign disabled permits are recognised in Spain.



Using a hand-held mobile phone whilst behind the wheel of a vehicle is illegal; ‘behind the wheel’ includes stationary at the side of the road. Only true hands free systems where the speaker is not attached to the ear are allowed. You will see many locals ignoring this law, but the police are becoming increasingly vigilant.



Unusually, cyclists have priority on roundabouts whichever direction they come from.


  1. RADAR

The use of radar detectors is illegal in Spain; however unlike in France, you may use your GPS to indicate speed cameras - at least for now!


Further reading for Living In Spain


Finding work

There are a number of ways that UK expats can fund their lifestyle in Spain.

Read more..


Social life in Spain

Find out as much as you can about your new community and find new friends.




Arrange health insurance and locate your new local hospitals and practices.



Education in Spain

Emigrating with school-age children? Learn more about schooling in your local area.