Driving in Spain is generally very easy, but you will need to be aware of certain regulations and requirements that will make the experience different from driving in the UK.

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Driving regulations are strict, and offences fall into three categories – minor, serious and very serious. Speed cameras are common, and some equipment will automatically alert local police if the caught motorist is driving a foreign-registered car. Foreign drivers who are not officially registered in Spain can be fined and will have to pay this on the spot.

All drivers start with 12 points on their license, although a good driving history may see this become 15. Points are removed when an offence is committed, and around 6 points can be removed in one go for a very serious offence.

Driving in Spain is on the right hand side. Drivers must be over 18 and in possession of a valid driver’s license. Seatbelts are compulsory.

There is certain documentation that must be carried at all times – driver’s license, passport/residency card, registration document for the car, inspection certificate, the receipt or road tax, and proof of insurance. All cars must carry a reflective rest, 1-2 warning triangles, a spare type and tyre changing equipment.

There are different types of roads in Spain:

  • Motorways, where the speed limit is 110-120kmph, and there will usually be a toll. Those who use the motorways on a regular basis can purchase a ‘tarjeta de la austopista’, which allows savings
  • Dual carriageways (autovias); these do not have toll booths and the speed limit is 100 kmph.
  • Main roads (carretera) have a 90 kmph speed limit.
  • Regional roads have white road signs and in built up areas the speed limit is 50 kmph. Some residential areas have dropped the limit to 20 kmph.

Road standards across Spain are very good, with poorer quality roads only in the more rural areas. The price of fuel fluctuates consistently with other countries, due to the global economy and other affecting factors.

Parking regulations in Spain can be fairly complicated. Some towns have regulations stating that if it is an even day of the month, you must park on the side of the street with even numbered houses. Other towns may have streets where you must park on one side for the first half of the month then for the rest of the month it changes to the other side. This is clearly indicated on the red and blue signs which can be found along the street. In some areas it may be necessary to have a permit to park (horas laborables) during office hours.

Parking meters are common but are being gradually replaced with ticket machines. You must pay using a machine if parking in a blue zone between 9am-2pm and 4pm-9pm on weekdays and 9am-2pm on Saturdays.

City centre car parks are usually underground, and there will be a sign outside which tells you if there are spaces available. There will usually be a cash desk or paying station where you can pay before you leave the car park. Cost of parking will vary depending on location. In some towns there is the ‘ora zone’ system and tickets for parking are sold at various retail outlets for 30, 60 or 90 minutes’ stay. No parking signs are blue with a red line. Be aware that a single yellow line is the equivalent of a double yellow line in the UK - so no parking! Regular parking fines will result in points being deducted from your license.

Spain has strict drink driving laws, only allowing 0.5 milligrams of alcohol per millilitre of blood - stricter than the UK where the limit is 0.8mg/l. New drivers are effectively forbidden to drink and drive, with a very low 0.1 mg/l limit.


Further reading for Living In Spain

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Finding work

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

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Social life in Spain

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

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Heathcare

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

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Education in Spain

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

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