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Rules for driving in Spain

If you’re relocating to the Costa del Sol, you’ll need a car to get around. Public transport outside the larger towns and cities is patchy, so you will rely on your car or motorbike to get around. The roads are generally good and modern, with a network of toll roads, as well as the coastal road (N340) which links up the main towns by the sea and then smaller roads heading inland to the towns and villages in the hills.

Here are ten things you need to know about driving in Spain –

  1. We drive on the right here in Spain, take extra care when overtaking if you are in a right hand drive car, as visibility can be restricted.
  2. Alcohol limits are very low – You are allowed to drink less here in Spain than in the UK, with a limit of 0.5 milligrams of alcohol per millilitre of blood. In practice, this means a man can have three small glasses of wine or small beers and women only two.
  3. When driving, you should always carry your driving licence, proof of insurance, an ID card or passport and a proof of ownership or rental.
  4. Drivers must carry reflective jackets and a warning triangle and always wear the reflective jackets if you get out of the car onto the road or hard shoulder.
  5. Children must use suitable car seats such as booster seats up to the age of 12, or the height of 135cm.
  6. Seat belts are required for the driver and all passengers.
  7. You are not permitted to drive and speak on a mobile phone.
  8. Stop signs are common when you join a motorway or main road, which can be a surprise if you are just used to merging. Joining a fast road from a standing start isn’t easy, but be patient and you’ll find a gap you can safely pull into.
  9. Speed limits are usually 50 kilometres per hour in urban areas, 80 kilometres per hour on the N340 coastal road and in tunnels and 120 kilometres per hour on the toll road. The limits change quite regularly along the toll road in particular, but don’t worry, they are well sign-posted.
  10. Call 112 if you require emergency help.

If you have any doubts about bringing your car over to Spain and the rules around driving on UK plates and changing your driving license, we can put you in touch with our legal advisors for the latest advice.

We can help you with all aspects of living in Spain and find you a quality long term rental which will be the perfect base to start your new life on the Costa del Sol. Browse properties on our website, or contact us with your requirements and we’ll send you a list of properties that would suit you.

The law on expat driving licences

There has been a growing amount of confusion recently regarding expat driving licences and their validity in Spain. This week’s Sur in English newspaper tells us the full facts on the matter, but in case you haven’t seen it, here is a quick update on the requirements.

The law currently states that, driving licences issued by any EU member state or countries that are part of the European Economic Area are valid in Spain and they remain valid under the terms of the country in which they were issued. However, when someone becomes a resident in Spain, they then become subject to the Spanish regulations.

If you are living in Spain and have an expiry date on your driving licence, it needs to be renewed before that date. If you don’t have an expiry date, you must renew within two years of becoming a Spanish resident. Drivers who became a Spanish resident before 19th January 2013 however, do not have to do anything until 19th January 2015. A foreign resident who doesn’t renew their driving licence when required will be treated the same as Spanish nationals and given a €200 fine.

From the 19th January 2015, all foreign residents and Spanish drivers are going to have to renew their driving licence whether it has an expiry date or not. The original licence will be replaced by a European version after a medical test at an authorised centre. Validity period for the new licences (either five or 10 years) will depend on the age of the driver and whether he or she has any illness or physical disability. You can find more information on the AEA’s website.

You can read more about driving in Spain, buying second hand cars, and lots of other road and travel related information on our blog.

Spanish traffic laws explained

If you’ve relocated to Spain permanently, are renting long term in Spain, or simply on holiday and will be driving here, you need to understand the traffic laws relating to foreign plated cars, driving licences and how to deal with the situation when you have broken one of the rules and been caught.

This is the subject of a lot of debate in the expat community and you will often see contradictory information on forums and websites.

To help you get to grips with these laws and keep you out of trouble, website Family Life in Spain is producing a series of posts about different aspects of the Spanish traffic laws.  Including, How to Pay Traffic Fines in Spain, Spanish ITV (MOT) on UK Registered Vehicles, Buying and Selling a Spanish Plated Vehicle in Spain and Driving Licences in Spain. They are supported by the Costa Advice Bureau, which offers invaluable support to expats living on the Costa del Sol and has all the latest information on the rules and regulations applying to drivers in Spain.

One very useful post is about the Spanish ITV for UK plated cars and whether you can get this whilst still being on UK plates or not. They will be writing more posts on this subject over the next few months, so make sure you ask your questions on their website, or contact the Costa Advice Bureau for more information.

Driving in Spain

If you’re moving to Spain or looking at Long-term rental property in Spain you need to consider how you will get around once you’re here. Public transport is good in the major cities, but even in tourist areas such as the Costa del Sol, you can be stuck if you’re relying on public transport alone.

The easiest way to get around is to drive, but make sure that your driving licence is valid here before you arrive. EU citizens are fine, but those who are from outside the EU should check before they arrive. AngloInfo has an excellent page all about Foreign driving licences in Spain which is a good start. Continue reading “Driving in Spain”