Driving to Spain – What you Should Know

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Driving to Spain from the UK through France can be a long haul, but also fun if you have the time to spare, not so much if you were one of the unlucky ones who recently spent an entire day sat in nose to nose traffic piled up en-route to Dover however.

Either way, driving is a great way to visit one of Britain’s favourite holiday destinations, but thousands more people hop on flights to Spain each week. With so much to see and do, from stunning landscapes to vibrant cities, it’s no surprise that people, who don’t want the hassle of taking their own car, choose the rental option instead. There are plenty of hire cars with a range of budgets to choose from if you want to drive in Spain… just Google ‘car rental Spain’ and you’ll see what I mean!

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As you would expect you can drive in Spain on a UK licence, but just like every other European nation where that applies, there are unique rules, regulations and customs to contend with. Not to mention the Spanish road signs and toll roads.

Which Documents Do I Need for Driving in Spain?

To drive in Spain you will need a full and valid UK driver’s licence. You will also need proof of ownership (V5C) and insurance, as well as a passport or a national identity card.

What Do I Need to Carry in my Car?

All cars driving in Spain are required to carry two warning triangles to be placed at the front and back of the car in the event of a breakdown.  Headlamp beam deflectors are another must for UK drivers venturing into Spain in their right hand drive cars. Spanish law does not require drivers to carry reflective jackets, but anyone found walking on the motorway hard shoulder without one will be fined.

Spain recently issued a law banning the use of radar detectors, with users facing a €200 fine. However, a sat-nav with speed camera location warnings have yet to be outlawed.

The use of mobile phones while driving is also on the banned list, but hands-free devices are still allowed within Spanish road laws.

Driving in Spain Checklist:

  • • Full and valid driver’s licence
  • • V5C
  • • Proof of Insurance
  • • Passport/national ID
  • • Reflective jackets
  • • Warning triangles
  • • Spare pair of spectacles (for those who use glasses while driving)
  • • Headlamp beam deflectors
  • • GB sticker (non GB-euro symbol cars only)

What is the Alcohol Limit for Driving in Spain?

The blood alcohol limit is Spain is 0.05 percent and an even lower 0.01 per cent for drivers with less than three years experience. (That’s driving experience, not drinking).

Spanish Tolls

Like most other central European countries, Spain houses an impressive motorway network complete with tolls to charge you for the privilege, and there’s no way of getting away from paying for that privilege either. The fees are in a similar class to France and Italy, with the 136km coastal route from Malaga to Gibraltar costing around €10.00.

Cars towing a caravan or a trailer will pay the same fees as normal cars for motorway use in Spain. The tolls are only on A-signed roads, and anyone wishing to save a little money can use the E-signed roads, these are the Spanish equivalent of UK A roads.


Most UK insurance companies allow for 90 days of cover in EU countries – but the majority will only provide third party cover. Confirm the type of insurance cover you will have in Spain before you leave. Unlike insurance, breakdown cover is not a mandatory requirement in Spain. Check with your provider about the type of cover you have, and if necessary, purchase a single trip cover.

When Overtaking

The national speed limit on motorways is 120km/h, and those looking to overtake you will often flash their lights in anticipation. On smaller roads with one lane in each direction, drivers are allowed to exceed the speed limit by 20km/h when overtaking a slower vehicle.



Spanish authorities have also started to enforce indicating while changing lanes or road position – this is something some UK drivers need to readjust to – and maybe a few Spanish too may I add.

Driving in Towns

Unless the traffic signs say otherwise, the speed limit drops to 50km/h when you reach most cities and towns. Spanish cities are often congested and it’s not unusual to be surrounded by mobs of scooters edging into the oncoming traffic. At first the driving style can take some getting used to, but on the whole, Spanish drivers are friendly and courteous, although you may find some that double park just to stop and say hola to a passing friend. Toot toot all you want, it won’t make a difference – it’s just another small part of Spanish life that you will have to get used to.

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