Full guide on driving in Spain for foreigners

Essential tips for foreigners renting a car in Spain. Speed limits, traffic rules, safety measures, tolls, and emergency numbers covered.
driving in Spain

Spain is a breathtaking country filled with diverse landscapes, picturesque coastlines, and charming villages waiting to be explored. To truly experience the beauty of this nation, renting a car can be an excellent choice. However, driving in a foreign country can be daunting, especially if you are unfamiliar with the local rules and regulations. Fear not! This guide will cover everything you need to know about driving in Spain as a foreigner, ensuring a safe and enjoyable journey.

driving in Spain

How to drive in Spain

  1. Traffic Side

    A person driving on the right side of the road

    In Spain, traffic drives on the right-hand side of the road. If you are coming from a country where traffic drives on the left-hand side, this change may take some getting used to. Always remember to stay on the right side of the road and overtake on the left.

  2. Speed Limits

    Road sign indicating speed limit

    Speed limits in Spain vary depending on the type of road and location. As a general guideline:
    – Urban areas: 50 km/h (31 mph)
    – Open roads: 90 km/h (56 mph)
    – Major roads: 100 km/h (62 mph)
    – Highways: 120 km/h (75 mph)

    Speed limits may change, so be attentive to road signs indicating speed restrictions.

  3. Traffic Lights

    Traffic lights on the pole

    Traffic lights in Spain follow the standard red, amber, and green sequence. Keep in mind that in some cities, traffic lights might be positioned horizontally rather than vertically. Remember to stop at a red light and proceed cautiously on a green light.

  4. Roundabouts

    Top view of a roundabout with cars entering and exiting

    Roundabouts are common in Spain, especially in urban areas. When entering a roundabout, always yield to traffic already in the roundabout. Vehicles inside the roundabout have the right of way. Indicate your exit and maintain a steady speed while inside the roundabout.

  5. Priority of Movement

    Top view of complicated road intersection

    In Spain, priority is given to vehicles coming from the right, unless otherwise indicated. Yield to vehicles approaching from the right at intersections and junctions without traffic lights or signs.

  6. Seatbelts use

    Close shot of unbuckled seat belt

    Seatbelts are mandatory for all occupants of a vehicle in Spain. Ensure that all passengers wear their seatbelts at all times while the car is in motion.

  7. Child Safety

    Child seat installed at a rear seat of a car

    If you are traveling with children, they must be seated in an appropriate child safety seat suitable for their age, weight, and height. Children under 12 years old are not allowed to sit in the front passenger seat unless they use a child restraint system.

  8. Headlights use

    Car with turned on headlights

    While driving in Spain, it is compulsory to use dipped headlights in tunnels and during adverse weather conditions such as heavy rain or fog. However, using high beams within city limits is not allowed.

  9. Phone usage

    Phone showing directions is installed in the holder next to steering wheel of a car

    Using a handheld mobile phone while driving is strictly prohibited in Spain. If you need to make a call, use a hands-free system. Breaking this law can result in severe fines.

  10. Alcohol limits

    Two beer bottles in light of the sunset

    Spain has strict laws regarding alcohol consumption while driving. The legal blood alcohol limit is 0.5 g/l (grams per liter) for regular drivers and 0.3 g/l for drivers with less than two years of experience, professional drivers, and public transportation drivers.

  11. Roads condition

    A car passing the road with signs of maintenance

    Roads in Spain are generally well-maintained, especially major highways and routes. However, in rural areas, roads may be narrower and winding. Exercise caution, especially when driving on unfamiliar roads.

  12. Tolls

    Toll gates on the road

    Spain has an extensive network of toll roads, particularly on major highways and expressways. Be prepared to pay toll fees, and keep some cash or a credit card handy for this purpose.

  13. Fuel Availability

    Close view of a person fuelling a erd car

    Finding fuel stations in Spain is relatively easy, particularly on main roads and highways. Most stations offer unleaded (sin plomo) and diesel (gasóleo) fuel types.

  14. Necessary documents

    Person checking a wallet for necessary documents

    As a foreigner driving in Spain, you will need the following documents:
    – Valid driving license (an international driving permit if your license is not in Spanish or English)
    – Passport
    – Car rental agreement
    – Proof of insurance (included with the rental car)

  15. Emergency numbers

    A vehicle with emergency lights on

    In case of an emergency, dial the following numbers:
    – General Emergency: 112
    – Police: 091
    – Medical Emergencies: 061
    – Roadside Assistance: 902 222 222

Now that you are equipped with the essential information, you can confidently embark on a memorable road trip in Spain. Enjoy the scenic drives, explore the cultural wonders, and create lasting memories on this beautiful Iberian adventure! Happy travels!

FAQ

Can I use my foreign driver’s license in Spain?

Yes, you can use your foreign driver’s license in Spain if it is written in Spanish, English, or any other official language of Spain. Otherwise, you will need an International Driving Permit (IDP) alongside your original license.

Are there any special requirements for child safety seats?

Yes, children under 12 years old and shorter than 135 cm must use an appropriate child safety seat. Ensure the seat complies with European safety standards and is suitable for the child’s age and size.

What should I do in case of a breakdown or accident?

If you experience a breakdown or accident, pull over to a safe spot, turn on hazard lights, and place a warning triangle behind your vehicle. Dial the emergency numbers provided in this guide and wait for assistance.

Can I use my mobile phone for navigation while driving?

Using a handheld mobile phone while driving is prohibited in Spain. Instead, use a hands-free system or a dedicated GPS navigation device for directions.

Are there speed cameras on Spanish roads?

Yes, Spain has speed cameras installed on various roads. Be vigilant about speed limits and road signs, as exceeding the limit may result in fines.

How do I pay toll fees on Spanish highways?

Toll booths on Spanish highways accept both cash and credit card payments. Keep some euros or a credit card handy to pay the toll fees.

What do I do if I get a traffic ticket?

If you receive a traffic ticket, it’s essential to pay it promptly. Check the instructions on the ticket for payment details. Failure to pay may result in additional fines.

Can I drink alcohol and drive in Spain?

The legal blood alcohol limit in Spain is 0.5 g/l for regular drivers. It is advisable not to drink and drive to avoid any legal repercussions and ensure road safety.

What is the standard fuel type available in Spain?

Unleaded gasoline (sin plomo) and diesel (gasóleo) are the standard fuel types available in Spain. Most fuel stations offer both options.

Are roundabouts common in Spain?

Yes, roundabouts are common in Spain, especially in urban areas. Familiarize yourself with the rules of entering and exiting roundabouts for a smooth driving experience.

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