Essential rules of the road for Spain – Part 2
Welcome to part two of our driving in Europe guide. In part one we covered what you need to think about when you’re driving through France, now we’re going to tell you what you need to know about driving in another favourite summer destination for Brits - Spain.
As with any law, ignorance is no defence for breaking it, so it's important to make sure you brush-up on the essentials. Below we've given you some of the main rules and laws you'll need to know, but this is not a full list of the rules and regulations. So once you’ve read this, we suggest you do further research and check out Spanish road signs too.
What you need to know about driving in Spain
Whether you're hopping on a ferry direct to Bilbao, or meandering your way down through France, there are some things you’ll have to keep in mind when you’re driving through Spain. The first is what wonderful sights you'll stop off at on the way.
The second is that, if you get caught doing something illegal, you will have to pay any traffic fines immediately by cash or credit card. That is unless you have someone who lives in Spain who’s willing to guarantee they’ll pay you fine if you don’t – like a guarantor. If you can’t pay and you don’t have anyone to guarantee your fine, the police can confiscate your car. So it might be worth taking this into account in your budget.
Important documents for driving in Spain
You need to carry your:
• Driving licence – you can use your driving licence legally in Spain. An international drivers permit will be recognised, but it’s not a requirement. Unlike the UK, you have to be 18 to drive in Spain, so even if you’ve passed your test in the UK and have your full licence, you won’t be able to drive.
• Proof of ID – your passport is acceptable.
• V5 certificate – you’ll need this in case you have to prove the car is yours.
• Your hire documents – if you’ve hired a car in the UK, you’ll need to take all of your car hire documents with you. Make sure you ask for continental cover when you book your vehicle.
These documents are not essentials, but it’s highly recommended that you have them anyway:
• Proof of insurance – a minimum of third-party insurance or above is required. It’s also worth taking your receipt of payment for this too. Cover for travel within the EU for a certain number of days is usually already included in your policy. However, if you’re not able to find out how many days you’re covered for on your policy, it’s a good idea to call your insurer and ask. While you’re on the phone let them know you’ll be travelling into Spain and you may want to ask if there’s the option to have upgraded cover too, there’s usually a fee for this.
• A receipt proving you’ve paid road tax – this is not obligatory, but is highly recommended.
Important Kit for driving in Spain:
The kit you need to drive in Spain is detailed below, and is much the same as what you need to drive in France. So if you've ever been there, you'll most likely have most of these items already.
These are the items you need to carry at all times while travelling in Spain:
• A warning triangle – this is compulsory for all cars with four wheels and should be placed in the road to warn other drivers if you have to stop.
• Reflective jackets – although they are not a legal requirement, if you breakdown and have to get out and walk down the hard shoulder or on the road, you could be fined for not wearing one. So, probably best to have a couple in your car just in case.
• Headlight deflectors – you’ll need to adjust your headlights so as not to dazzle drivers in Spain. Check to see if you need stick on reflectors, you can adjust the lights manually or you need to visit a garage.
• GB sticker – if you don’t have euro plates, you’ll need to get yourself a GB sticker.
Note: A spare set of bulbs and the tools to change them used to be a legal requirement, but has now been changed to a recommendation.
Rules of the Road
There are a few unfamiliar rules that will most likely catch UK drivers out in Spain. Here’s a list of the main differences, but we’d certainly advise that you take some time to read up more thoroughly before you go.
• In Spain drivers are expected to give priority to cars coming from the right when approaching an intersection. And those already engaged in the roundabout have priority over those entering. If you’re on a secondary road, you must give way to drivers on the main road, whether they are coming from the right or the left.
• Trams and emergency vehicles have priority over other road users in all cases.
• Use of the horn is only allowed in urban areas when there’s immediate danger.And, if you do need to sound your horn, it must be brief. Some local authorities have banned the use of horns outright. If this is the case, you’ll see picture a bugle or horn inside a red circle with a bar across it. When you see this, you must use flash your lights as a warning instead.
• If you have children under the age of 12, who are less than 135cm tall, travelling in the front seat of your car, they’ll need to be restrained in a seat that’s suitable for their height and weight. The same child sitting in the rear seat would also need a child seat to travel legally.
• The drink drive limit for motorists in Spain is 0.5 gram per litre. If you’re a novice driver, that’s when you’ve been driving for less than three years, the figure drops to 0.3 grams per litre. If you’ve been involved in an accident, you will be automatically tested.
• The use of headphones or earphones is not allowed.
• The use of mobile phones is illegal, unless you have a hands-free device. Even then, it must be a hands-free device with no headphones attached.
• Car radios and mobiles must be switched off when you stop to refuel.
• You must use dipped headlights all the time in poor visibility.
• If you are the driver, it is your responsibility to make sure the cars number plates are visible.
• The use of equipment that detects speed cameras is still legal, but the use of any kind of radar jamming equipment is strictly banned. And it’s also illegal to warn other drivers of the presence of police officers too.
• The speed limits in Spain for standard cars, that are not towing anything, are below. They can be exceeded by 20km/h for passing slower moving vehicles.
20km/h in residential areas
50km/h in most towns and built-up areas, unless otherwise stated
62mph or 100km/h standard roads, one way roads, or those with dual carriage ways
55mph or 90km/h other standard roads
74mph or 120 km/h on motorways, there’s also a minimum speed limit on motorways of 37mph or 60km/h
Part two – done! Come back for Part three, which will cover the rules of the road for Italy.
Sources: The research for Zuto was carried out by Opinion Matters between: 26th May, 2016 and 02nd June, 2016. Sample: 1,455 UK Adults with a Full Driving Licence