Requirements to driving in Spain:
As with many countries in Europe, you are permitted to drive with your normal native driver's licence at hand, provided it is written in the Roman Alphabet. Holders of driving licenses written in another alphabet are obliged show an International Driving Permit in English (widely available through motoring organisations such as AA, AAA, RAC, etc.) or International drivers license translations.
Remember, you'll need your drivers license with you at all times, and if your driver’s licence has no photo you'll need another valid form of Photo ID with a picture of you (your passport for example). Finally, remember to have your vehicle registration document (V5) a and certificate of motor insurance at hand.
are in luck and spared from having to go through the whole process. As a nonresident, an EU driver’s license is valid in Spain, and vice-versa. If you are a resident, then you must alter your license. There are two options: either get your EU driver’s license “stamped” or you exchange your driving license for a Spanish driver’s license.
As a non-EU citizen, you have our condolences; you will need to get that Spanish driver’s license after all. Depending on your nationality, non-EU driver’s licenses may be valid for the first year after arrival in Spain. After that, you are officially required to have a Spanish driver’s license. (Some expats, however, have been known to use their home-country license for years without problems. Not recommended, but possible.)
For US drivers, bear in mind that because each state has its own rules, foreign countries make agreements with individual states! That means that your New York driver’s license is valid (for the first year) in Spain, but your Massachusetts driver’s license is not (whether the police know which states are valid is another question).
For Canadian drivers, you are currently required to have both your provincial driver’s license and an International drivers license, which are valid for up to a year of living in Spain. If and when you get your residence, these are valid for only six additional months at that point. You can get your International driver’s license from many registry offices or CAA offices (or the provincial equivalents) by showing your valid provincial license, spending a half hour.
To get a Spanish driver’s license you must:
join a driving school and pass a medical exam, written exam, and behind-the-wheel exam.
Age requirements for driving in Spain:
Some Spanish car companies emlpoy age restrictions, and you may be charged extra for being below the minimum age or above the maximum age. Remember, we'll include this in your quote so you won't be hit for charges on arrival - just check your quotation for a break down.
If you have a driving licence from any other EU country, it is automatically valid in Spain. All other countries (including the USA), can drive for just 6 months in one calendar year but must then obtain a Spanish licence. A driving school will handle all the paperwork for you. To apply for a test you will need to present a copy of your residencia, passport photographs, a completed application form and the fee of 160.95€ and a medical certificate obtained at an official medical centre (24€ fee).
Driving Licences for residents of Spain
If Resident in Spain you have to either change your driving licence or put an inscription on your EU licence at your nearest 'Jefatura Provincial de Tráfico' (in Madrid at C/Arturo Soria 143, Tel: 913 018 500)
If you are a resident by means of working i.e. you don't hold a residents card, but are paying taxes and Social Security in Spain and working for more than 185 days in Spain per year, you have to either change or put an inscription on your EU Licence.
Spanish Driving Licence - Documents needed:
Residents: Copy of residencia, Driving licence (original), 2 photos and a signed form which can obtain from police station. If it is being renewed at the same time - an eye test from a doctor.
Working resident documents needed: All of the above but instead of copy of residencia, the following: copy of passport, copy of NIE certificate, copy of contract (minimum of 6 months), if self employed proof of Social Security payments, justification of address (cert Empadronamiento / proof of residence of min. 6 months).
Time: 2 Weeks (approx.). Price: 46.40 euros
Inscription on Driving Licence - Documents needed:
Residents: copy of residencia, Driving licence, signed form.
Non-residents: copy of NIE certificate, copy of passport, justification of address (cert Empadronamiento / proof of residence of min. 6 months).
Time: Photo card driving licence 2-3 months (approx.) or Paper licence 2-3 weeks. Price: 46.40 euros
In both cases a justificate (copy documentation) will be given to the client, which is valid for 60 days and proves that the original is with the traffic police. This can be extended if necessary.
As an a tourist, to drive a foreign registered vehicle in Spain you must have with you, and you can be fined for not obeying the following:
1. your passport, current until after your return home
2. Current driving licence, preferably the EU type with the ring of stars
3. Two EU approved, red warning triangles
4. Approved reflective jackets that must be worn by all outside the car at anytime, day or night, outside the vehicle at the side of any highway not in an urban (street lights?) area. The jackets must be kept inside the car so they can be put on before getting out and also must be visible from outside the car. The pocket in the back of the front seat is a good place. The jackets are inexpensive and can be bought at most supermarkets if you do not have them already
5. A set of spare lamps/bulbs for your car and the tool/s to change them
6. If you wear corrective glasses for driving, a spare pair
7. Your number plate should be an EU one with the ring of stars containing your country code, or a small plate/sticker with your country code (GB, etc) should secured to the rear of the car
8. Valid insurance
9. All vehicle documents relating to the car (legally certified copies are OK).
Recommended, but not mandatory is a First Aid kit and a fire extinguisher
If you are from outside the EU, you will need an International Driving Licence issued by the correct authority in your home country. It must have one page of information in Spanish.
Remember that your “tourist status” in a foreign country usually applies for only three months as far as insurance is concerned, so for any longer periods, do not forget to discuss this with your broker. The roads in Spain vary from very poor to very good, the latter especially since Spain joined the EU and has benefited from the funding from other countries over the last 20 years. The main connecting roads are generally excellent. Roads are classified thus, and they can be easily clarified on a road map.
Legal Driving Ages and Permit Types:
Mopeds and vehicles for people with reduced mobility: 14 years
Permit A1 (motorbikes maximum power 11 KW and 125cc): 16 years
Permit A (motorbikes, with at least two years experience driving motorbikes of category A1): 18 years
Permit B (vehicles with a maximum weight of 3.500 Kg and with a maximum of 9 seats, including the driver's): 18 years
Permit C (vehicles with weight over 3.500 Kg): 21 years
D (vehicles for the transport of passengers): 21 years
Validity and Licence Renewal
A standard Spanish driving licence for a private car or bike is valid for ten years when the holder is aged 18 to 45 years of age, from 45 up to 70 it is valid five years, and two years from 70 on. A person over the age of 70 will be asked to present a medical certificate whenever the driving licence needs renewal.
The periods of validity may be altered for drivers with certain progressive illnesses or disabilities.
Be aware of thieves who will want to steal anything from your vehicle. Never leave anything of value in view, lock them away. If you want to rent a car and do not have a driver’s license from a non EU country then you will need to have a 12 month International Driving Permit. Gas is expensive.
You will drive on the right side of the road, and the speed limit is shown in km/h. If you drive a motorbike then you will need to have your headlights on at all time. The blood-alcohol limit is 0.05%. Breath tests are becoming more common, and if you are found guilty you will find yourself facing a fine, and even losing your license. This will take place within 24 hours, and the fine will be up to 600 Euros or more. As a visitor you will be expected to pay 30% of the fine immediately when you are found guilty.