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Spain – Driving

Spain is a popular destination for tourists, and many visitors choose to rent a car to explore the country’s beautiful landscapes and historic cities. However, before hitting the road, it is important to understand the rules and regulations of driving in Spain to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip.

Road Safety in Spain

Road safety in Spain is generally good, with well-maintained roads and strict traffic laws. However, like any country, there are certain risks associated with driving. The most common causes of accidents in Spain are speeding, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and not wearing a seatbelt.

In addition, drivers in Spain can be aggressive and impatient, especially in big cities. It is important to stay alert and focused while driving, and to obey traffic laws and signs at all times.

Quality of Roads and Local Driving Standards

The quality of roads in Spain is generally good, with well-maintained highways and main roads. However, some smaller roads in rural areas can be narrow and winding, so extra caution is required.

Local driving standards in Spain can vary, with some drivers taking a more relaxed approach to traffic laws. It is important to stay alert and follow the rules of the road to ensure a safe journey.

Required Equipment

When driving in Spain, it is mandatory to carry the following equipment in your car:


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  • A reflective jacket: This must be worn by the driver if they need to exit the vehicle on the side of the road in the event of a breakdown or accident.
  • A warning triangle: This must be placed at least 50 meters behind the vehicle in the event of a breakdown or accident.
  • Spare bulbs and fuses: It is recommended to carry spare bulbs and fuses in case of a light failure.
  • A valid driving license and registration: You must carry your original driver’s license and vehicle registration documents.

What to do in the event of an accident

In the event of an accident in Spain, the following steps should be taken:

  • Stop the car and turn on the hazard lights.
  • Check for injuries and call emergency services if necessary.
  • Exchange information with the other driver, including names, addresses, and insurance information.
  • Take photos of the scene and gather witness information if possible.
  • Fill out a European Accident Statement form, which can be obtained from your insurance company or the local police.

Driving Rules in Spain

In Spain, you must drive on the right-hand side of the road. The general speed limit on highways is 120 km/h, on main roads is 90 km/h, and in urban areas is 50 km/h. However, it is important to note that speed limits can vary depending on the road and location, so be sure to pay attention to signs.

Other important driving rules in Spain include:

  • Seatbelts must be worn at all times.
  • The use of mobile phones while driving is prohibited, unless using a hands-free system.
  • Children under 12 years old must ride in the back seat, and children under 135 cm tall must use a child seat.
  • Alcohol limits for drivers in Spain are lower than many other countries, with a limit of 0.5 grams per liter of blood.

Road Signs and Traffic Lights in Spain

Road signs in Spain are similar to those used in other European countries, with symbols and colors used to convey important information to drivers. Some of the most important signs to be aware of include:

  • Stop signs (alto)
  • Yield signs (ceda el paso)
  • Speed limit signs (limite de velocidad)
  • No parking signs (prohibido aparcar)

Traffic lights in Spain follow the same pattern as in many other countries, with green indicating go, red indicating stop, and yellow indicating caution.

Parking Rules in Spain

When it comes to parking in Spain, there are a few important rules to keep in mind. In general, parking is prohibited in places where it could cause an obstruction or where parking is explicitly prohibited by a sign. Here are some additional guidelines to keep in mind:

  • Blue Zones: Many cities in Spain have blue zones where you can park for a limited amount of time if you display a ticket purchased from a machine. These zones are often located in high-traffic areas and are designed to encourage turnover in parking spots.
  • Green Zones: Some cities also have green zones, which are designated for residents and require a permit to park in. If you are not a resident, you can face a fine or even have your car towed if you park in a green zone.
  • Disabled Parking: In Spain, there are designated parking spaces for people with disabilities. These spaces are marked with the international symbol for disability and are typically located near public buildings and other areas where people may need to access services. To park in a disabled parking space, you need to display a valid disability parking permit.

Parking Permits in Spain

If you plan to park in a green zone or need to use a disabled parking space, you may need to obtain a permit. Here is some information on how to obtain these permits:

  • Green Zone Permits: To obtain a green zone parking permit, you will need to provide proof of residency and your vehicle registration information. You can usually apply for this permit at your local town hall or city council office.
  • Disabled Parking Permits: To obtain a disabled parking permit in Spain, you will need to provide documentation from a doctor or medical professional confirming your disability. You can then apply for the permit at your local traffic department or town hall.

Parking for Expats in Spain

If you are an expat living in Spain, there are a few additional things to keep in mind when it comes to parking. Here are some tips:

  • Car Sharing: Many cities in Spain have car-sharing programs, which can be a good option if you only need a car occasionally. These programs allow you to rent a car by the hour or day, often with no minimum rental period. This can be a good alternative to owning a car if you live in an area with good public transportation.
  • Motorbikes and Scooters: If you are living in a city in Spain, you may want to consider getting a motorbike or scooter. These vehicles can be a great way to navigate traffic and find parking in busy areas where parking spots for cars may be limited.
  • Park and Ride: Some cities in Spain have park and ride facilities, which allow you to park your car on the outskirts of the city and take public transportation into the city center. This can be a good option if you are driving from outside the city and don’t want to deal with parking in the city center.

Driving in Spain can be a great way to explore the country and get around, but it’s important to understand the rules and regulations that apply to drivers. Whether you are a tourist or an expat, taking the time to familiarize yourself with the local driving customs and rules can help you stay safe and avoid fines and other penalties.


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