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A quick guide to driving in Spain

Carlton Boyce / 08 June 2016

If you're planning to drive to Spain or want to hire a car while you're on holiday, here are the basic things you need to know.

Speed limits are rigorously enforced with speed traps and on-the-spot fines
Speed limits are rigorously enforced with speed traps and on-the-spot fines

More and more of us are choosing to drive through Spain as a viable alternative to flying. Whether you drive through France or take a ferry to somewhere like Santander, having your car with you on holiday will allow you to explore the area in a way that just isn’t possible without it.

Eight weird driving rules from around the world.

Here’s our guide to help you make the most of your driving holiday.

Seat belts

Everyone one must wear a seatbelt, in both the front and rear seats.

Children under twelve must use an approved car seat if they want to sit in the front of the car and if they sit on the back seat they will need to use a car seat if they are under 135cms tall. Children aged under three must use an approved child car seat and must sit in the back at all times.

These regulations also apply in taxis, unless the whole journey is in an urban area, in which case child seats are not required.

Forgotten fact:  The Police can and do seize vehicles carrying children without legally compliant child seats.

Driving through France first? Read our guide to the law.

Keep your distance

Vehicles and combinations of vehicles (ie, a car towing a caravan) that exceed 10 metres in length must keep a distance of at least 50 metres from the vehicle in front of them. The only exceptions are in built-up areas, on roads where overtaking is prohibited, on motorways and dual-carriageways or other roads where there are several lanes all going in the same direction, or when a traffic jam or congestion makes this impossible.

Forgotten fact: If your car and caravan combination or motorhome exceeds 12 metres in length you must display one or two yellow reflectors (either one long reflector of 130cm x 25cm, or two shorter ones of 50cm x 25cm reflectors) on the rear of the caravan or motorhome.

Is there an upper age limit on car hire?


The price and availability of fuel is similar to that in Britain, so you shouldn’t have any problems filling up and credit and debit cards are widely accepted.

Forgotten fact: All mobile phones and car radios must be turned off when you refuel your car.

Saga Car Insurance: Join over a million drivers already benefiting from our outstanding cover and personal service for the over 50s. Get a quote and find out more!

Speed limits

The following speed limits apply in Spain, and are rigorously enforced with speed traps and on-the-spot fines. Oh, and having a radar detector in your car is illegal, even if you aren’t using it...


Speed Limits Motorway Other roads Town
General 120 km/h 90 km/h 50 km/h
Vehicles towing trailers and caravans 80 km/h 70 km/h 50 km/h

Forgotten fact: On smaller roads with one lane in each direction, drivers are allowed to temporarily exceed the speed limit by up to 20km/h when they are overtaking a slower vehicle.

Seven car hire rip-offs to avoid.

Drink driving

The drink driving limit is 0.05 milligrams of alcohol per millilitre of blood – slightly lower than the limit in England and Wales of 0.08 – and penalties can be harsh.

You will also be breathalysed after any accident, even if it isn’t your fault. If you refuse to take a test, you could have your car confiscated, lose your licence for up to four years, and spend four years in prison.

Forgotten fact: The limit for new drivers is even lower at just 0.01%. 

Read our guide to getting a good deal on car hire.

The ten things you need

Here is a handy list of the ten essential items you need:

  • Valid passport;
  • UK driving licence;
  • Car registration document (V5);
  • Valid UK vehicle tax (road tax);
  • Insurance documents for the car;
  • Headlamp converters on the car’s headlights, to dip the beam to the right, rather than the left;
  • GB or EU sticker on the back of your car;
  • Two warning triangles for use if you breakdown – one to be placed behind your car if it breaks down, and one in front;
  • A spare pair of glasses if you need them for driving;
  • Reflective jackets or vests are not compulsory to carry, but you and your passengers can be fined for walking along the side of road if you aren’t wearing them.

Forgotten fact: You must be 18 or older to drive in Spain, and 21 or older to rent a car.

Saga Car Insurance: Join over a million drivers already benefiting from our outstanding cover and personal service for the over 50s. Get a quote and find out more!


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.