Licences and Documents
You can drive in Spain on your full UK driving licence for visits that are less than six months (provisional licences are not valid). You must carry documentation at all times including a valid driving licence, a copy of the contract from the car hire company with proof of insurance and one other form of identification preferably with a photograph.
Minimum age of driving
The minimum age for driving cars in Spain is 18. Most car hire companies will only rent to people aged 25 and over.
Children under the age of 12 or under 1.35m in height are required by law to use an approved child safety seat and must be positioned in the back seat. Children are only permitted to travel in the front seat of the car if the rear seats are already occupied by other children or if the vehicle does not have rear seats. Car hire agencies can provide child seats, so let them know you need one when you reserve the car.
Most towns have parking areas denoted by a white P on a blue background. Yellow lines on the kerbs mean parking is prohibited. Many parking areas are marked with blue road markings and you will find parking meters nearby. In the main resorts there are blue parking bays. There are pay machines located at the side of the road with instructions how to use them in English. If cars are parked illegally they will be towed away and impounded until the driver has paid the fine, which in most cases is substantial.
Right of way
In all cases give way to the right. On roundabouts you will need to give way to the left.
As most cars now carry the spare tyre under the rear chassis, always check this is still in place before embarking on a journey. If this is stolen, a police report must be obtained, otherwise you will be charged the cost of the replacement by the hire Car Company.
In the event of car theft, the local car hire company (or the emergency assistance numbers if out of office hours) and police must be contacted immediately.
In the event of an accident involving other vehicles, it is of vital importance that the accident form supplied with the car documents is filled out with full details of the vehicles involved, including a number plate and model of car. Both parties must sign an accident form. Do not move the car until the police arrive. You must carry two red warning triangles which, in the event of an accident or breakdown, should be placed in front of and behind the vehicle at least 50 metres away from the vehicle. You must have a spare wheel and the tools to change it. If at any time you have to leave your vehicle due to an accident or breakdown or while waiting for the arrival of the emergency services, you must wear a reflective vest or you may face a heavy fine.
Police can impose on-the-spot fines for a variety of driving offences including exceeding the speed limit. Should you choose to accept the fine and pay within 15 days, it will be reduced by 50%. Like anywhere the police are particularly hot on speeding, parking illegally and drink driving. The police must give you a receipt for the amount of fine along with instructions to pay.
Talking on a mobile phone when driving is forbidden, even if you have pulled over to the side of the road. You must be completely away from the road. Using an earpiece is also prohibited but you’re allowed to use a mobile phone with a completely hands-free unit.
Spain has strict drink driving laws. Police regularly carry out roadside checks for alcohol and drugs. Penalties include heavy fines, loss of licence and imprisonment.