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Advice for Driving in Spain

Driving in Spain

Updated: 14 June 2024



Tips, Checklist & Legal Requirements

You should take particular care when driving in Spain, as regulations and customs are different from those in the UK. You drive on the right in Spain (opposite to the UK), and it is a legal requirement for motorists travelling to or transiting Spain to carry certain equipment with you in your vehicle. Make use of the comprehensive guide below or skip to our checklist and ensure you get to grips with the rules of driving in Spain.


What do you need to drive in Spain?

You must be at least 18 years old if you are planning to drive in Spain, and you must hold a valid UK driving licence, insurance and vehicle documents. Failure to do so can result in a fine. You are not permitted to drive at 17 even if you hold a valid licence.

Driver's checklist:

  1. Valid driving licence
  2. Proof of identification (passport)
  3. Certificate of insurance
  4. Hire car documentation (if applicable)

If you have hired a car and have purchased the insurance, you should be given documentation. If you are using your UK domestic car insurance, carry your certificate with you at all times. Keep in mind that this is generally only good for a stay of shorter than three months. If you are staying longer, contact your broker.


Driver safety

Spain’s road incident rate is slightly higher than that of the UK. In 2011 there were 4.5 road deaths in Spain per 100,000 of population and compares to the UK average of 3.1 road deaths per 100,000 of population in 2011.


Spanish Driving Laws

Strict driving laws in Spain affect both rules of the road and equipment that you are required to have with you while driving. For example, it is a legal requirement for motorists travelling to or transiting Spain to carry two red warning triangles to be placed, in the event of an accident or breakdown, in front of and behind the vehicle.

Seat belts are required for all passengers, whether in the front or back seat of the vehicle. No children under the age of twelve should be in the front seat. Spain also has laws requiring small children to be in an approved child safety seat in the back seat. Your car hire agency can provide a seat for you; just let them know at the time your reserve the car.


Equipment required by drivers:

  1. Spare pair of glasses (if needed for driving)
  2. Spare wheel
  3. Full set of spare bulbs
  4. Tools to change bulbs
  5. Certificate of insurance
  6. Two red warning triangles
  7. Approved reflective jacket (chaleco)
  8. Hire car documentation (if applicable)

It is important to wear your reflective jacket if at any time you have to leave your vehicle due to accident or breakdown, or whilst awaiting the arrival of emergency services. Failure to do so could result in a heavy fine.

Radar Detectors:

Radar detectors are banned and can carry fines up to 200 euro. More serious fines are imposed upon radar jammers, or inhibitors, with fines up to 6,000 euro.


Speed Limits

Standard speed limits (km/h) unless otherwise stated by traffic signs:

50Kmh Urban roads (31 mph).

70Kmh 100Kmh Non-urban roads (43 mph - 62 mph) with no/narrow hard shoulder (<1.5 m).

80Kmh 100Kmh Non-urban roads (50 mph - 62 mph) with hard shoulder at least 1.5 m wide or with two lanes or more in each direction.

120Kmh Motorways / expressways (74 mph).



50Kmh Urban roads (31 mph).

70Kmh Non-urban roads (43 mph) with no/narrow hard shoulder (<1.5 m).

80Kmh Non-urban roads (50 mph) with hard shoulder at least 1.5 m wide or with two lanes or more in each direction.

90Kmh Motorways / expressways (56 mph).


Alcohol Consumption

Spain has strict drink driving laws and they have even stricter controls now to detect drivers affected by alcohol or other drugs. The legal limit is 0.05%, and 0.01% for new drivers. They are very serious about drink driving and driving under the influence of drugs, having strict penalties such as heavy fines, loss of licence and imprisonment.


Mobile Phones While Driving

Talking on mobile phones when driving is forbidden by Spanish law, this includes talking in your car when pulled over to the side of the road. You must be completely away from the road. Using an ear piece is also prohibited and headphones are banned except for hearing aids. If you do need to use a mobile phone, you are only able to talk with a completely hands-free unit.


General Driving Advice

  • · Overtaking or crossing lanes is not permitted when the lines on the road are solid, you must wait for broken lines.
  • · Lines are usually white but they can be yellow when there are works on the road. Be careful with your speed if you find yellow lines and signs on the road.


Getting to Spain

Eurobreakdown clients have a range of choices available to them when deciding the best  options for getting to Spain.

The Principal ports in Spain are Bilbao, Gijon and Santander and they are served by Brittany Ferries and LD Lines.

Prices are similar. The price of a return ticket is dependent on a number of factors including the time and date of travel, the vehicle size and the number of occupants and whether you require the use of a cabin or club lounges. Crossings durations vary between 20 and 26 hours.


To sum up, here is our essential checklist for driving in Spain:

  1. Be sure to carry appropriate documents with you: valid driving licence, proof of ID, certificate of insurance, hire car documentation (if applicable).
  2. Ensure all passengers are wearing seat belts and bear in mind that no child under 12 should be sitting in the front seat. Small children should also be sat in approved child safety seat in the back seat.
  3. The following safety equipment should be in the car while driving: Two warning triangles, approved reflective jacket, spare pair of glasses (if needed for driving), spare wheel, full set of spare bulbs, bulb changing tools.
  4. Do not drink and drive.
  5. All mobile phone equipment is illegal while driving. Only use a completely hands-free unit.
  6. Observe local speed limits and road markings.
  7. In car radar detectors are prohibited.


  • · The Guardia Civil doesn't need to stop a vehicle to be able to register a motoring offence. If they observe and offence, noting the vehicle registration is sufficient to prosecute.
  • · The speed limit has been increased to 130 km/h (80 mph) but you can be fined if you exceed this limit but just 1km/h! On the other hand, in specific one way streets in some towns the speed limit has been reduced to 20 km/h (12 mph).
  • · The minimun fine for drivers doubling the alcohol limit or under the influence of drugs has been doubled to a minimum of 1,000 €.
  • · Children under 12 or 135cm in height cannot travel in the front seat unless all rear seats are occupied by smaller children, and they must do it using legal child restraints. The vehicle can be seized if the Guardi Civil observes an offence to this law.
  • · Only cyclists under 16 years of age must wear helmets and fines up to 200 euros can be imposed.
  • · You can be fined if the police finds you driving in flip-flops or open-backed sandals.


The team at Eurobreakdown.com hope that you find this information useful for your travels and wish you "Buen Viaje" for your visit to Spain!

Driving from Spain to another destination? You might like to read our other guides:

Need breakdown cover for Spain? Eurobreakdown.com can provide you with comprehensive single trip breakdown cover or annual multi trip breakdown policies with a best price guarantee.


Reference: The statistics mentioned on this page were sourced from the International Transport Forum’s Road Safety Annual Report 2013 and, to the best of Eurobreakdown.com’s knowledge, are correct at the time of publication (May 2014).


For general European driving tips click here