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Car Hire in Spain - Guide to driving on Spanish Roads

Car Hire Spain

Driving in Spain**

If you're booking your Spain car hire with Holiday Extras, then we won't just bring you great deals on cheap rental cars, but lots of handy information too. We realise that driving a car that is not your own can often be an unnerving experience, particularly when abroad. We've put together the following information on traffic laws and driving customs in Spain that may help you make driving your car hire in Spain as hassle-free as possible.

  • Left hand drive - Drive on the right-hand side of the road, overtake on the left.
  • Minimum car hire age - 18 years old. Under 25's may have to pay a young driver surcharge.
  • Seatbelt - Spanish law requires all car occupants to wear a seatbelt.
  • Children under 12 or under 1.35m - Must not travel in the front of a vehicle, unless in a specially adapted rear-facing seat for children.
  • Unleaded petrol - Sin plomo 98 or Eurosuper 95.
  • Diesel - gasoleo.
  • Leaded - super/super 97.
  • Petrol stations - Garages are rarely open 24hours, and are often closed for 2 hours at lunchtime and all day on a Sunday.
  • Mobile phones - It is illegal to use a mobile phone while driving unless using a completely hands-free kit (earphone kits are not allowed)
  • Toll Roads - Cash and credit cars are accepted

Spanish roads

Spanish toll motorways (autopistas de peajes - prefixed with AP) have undergone major improvements in recent years and if you plan on covering significant distances quickly they are ideal. If you fancy taking the slower, more scenic route, Spanish dual carriageways (autovias - prefixed with E), are seldom busy, well maintained and toll-free.

Road safety laws

Speed limits

  • Toll motorways (autopistas de peajes) - 120kph/75mph
  • Dual carriageways (autovias E) - 110kph/68mph
  • Out of town roads - 90kph/56mph
  • Built up areas - 50kph/31mph

Always keep a close eye on your speed, as penalties may be issued for violations as little as 1kph over the speed limit

On-the-spot fines

Fixed and mobile speed cameras are very common throughout Spain and are not as clearly marked as in the UK. If caught, Spanish authorities can issue expensive, on-the-spot fines.

All on-the-spot fines must be paid in cash, to the arresting officer. Credit cards and travellers cheques are not accepted, and cash must be in the local currency. If you do not have cash, you will be taken to the nearest ATM.

If the Guardia Civil observe a driving offence, you may not be stopped. Merely noting the license number provides sufficient evidence to prosecute.

Drinking and driving

Spanish authorities have clamped down heavily on drinking and driving across the country. Severe penalties are imposed if the driver is found to have 0.05% or more alcohol in their blood, or 0.03% or more alcohol in the bloodstream if the driver has had a full licence for 2 years or less.

It is important to note that drinking alcohol and then driving may invalidate your car rental insurance, irrespective of local drink driving laws. Check your policy for full details.

Driving licence

Important Information - Changes to the UK Driving Licence

In general, UK licences are accepted in other EU countries, however, if you are travelling to Spain, we recommend that you obtain an International Driver's Permit (IDP) as a precaution.

Spanish driving etiquette

Joining a dual carriageway or motorway - Merging onto a road in Spain can be a difficult process. Be prepared to stop, even at the end of an entry slip road and wait until there is a clear space to join these roads safely.

Flashing headlights - If another driver is flashing their headlights at you they want you to give them right of way.

No honking your horn - In urban areas it is illegal to use your horn; doing so could result in an on-the-spot fine. You are only permitted to do so in an emergency.


**This information should be considered as a broad overview of things to remember when hiring a car. It is therefore very important that you read the rental terms and conditions and associated policies for your own specific policy as well as doing your own research into the motoring laws of the country in which you will be driving.

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