Driving in Spain: Do you know the rules of the road?

Driving car in Spain

Driving in a foreign country can be daunting though, especially if you have never driven abroad before or are not familiar with the rules of the road for that country.

Over 12 million people in the UK visit Spain every year and many holiday makers will decide to hire a car whilst they are there. However, the rules for driving in Spain are different to the UK and it is important to be aware of the rules of the road before you go.

This is especially important considering the number of road traffic accidents is higher in Spain, particularly on motorways. In 2015, the European Commission reported 36 road deaths per one million inhabitants in Spain compared to 29 road deaths per one million inhabitants in the UK.

Spanish rules of the road

Before driving abroad in Spain, it is important to note that only drivers with a full license are able to. Those with a provisional licence in the UK are not legally allowed to drive in Spain.

1. Drive on the right hand side

Firstly, similar to other countries abroad, driving is on the right hand side of the road, not the left as it is in Scotland! This can take a little time to get used to but don’t let it put you off as it will become a lot more comfortable the more you drive.

2. Store two red warning triangles in car

You must carry two red warning triangles in your vehicle. If you are involved in an accident or the vehicle breaks down, these need to be placed at the front and back of the vehicle.

3. Tyre repair

In Spain, it is not mandatory to have a spare tyre but you must have the necessary tools to do a similar job in the event of a break down such as a puncture repair kit or run flat tyre.

4. Reflective vest

If you need to leave your vehicle because of an accident on the road or the vehicle has broken down or you are waiting for emergency services to arrive, you must wear a reflective vest.

If you don’t, you may receive a heavy fine.

5. Insurance certificate

Carry a certificate of insurance in case you’re stopped. If you are using UK insurance, always carry your certificate with you.

Remember that this certificate is generally only valid for a stay of less than 3 months - contact your insurer if you are staying longer.

6. Don’t drink and drive

Spain has very strict drink driving laws. If drivers are caught driving under the influence of alcohol, they could receive a heavy fine, lose their licence or face imprisonment.

On the spot fines can be issued for a variety of driving offences including exceeding the speed limit. Should you choose to accept the fine and pay within 20 days, it will be reduced by 50%.

More information on how to pay is available on the Spanish driving agency website.

7. Everyone must wear a seat belt

All passengers, front and back, must wear a seat belt. Children under the age of 12 are not allowed in the front seat and small children must be in the back seat and using an approved child safety seat.

When you are hiring your car, let them know you need a child safety seat as they will be able to provide this for you.

8. Don’t use your mobile behind the wheel

Speaking on your mobile phone behind the wheel is against the law in Spain - even if you have pulled over to the side of the road.

To speak on your mobile, you need to be fully away from the road or use a hands free unit inside the vehicle. Using an earpiece is also forbidden.

You can find more information about driving in Spain by visiting European Commission, AA and RAC websites. You can also find information about road rules for other countries on the UK Government website.

For advice about hiring a car abroad, please see Hiring a car abroad – what do you need to know? for more information.