Spanish Driving Laws

How to stay on the right side of the Law!

What are the Spanish Driving Laws?

Now you have your Alicante car hire or UK registered car in Spain, you need to understand the Spanish driving laws. A lack of knowledge for violating a traffic law is no excuse. The Guardia Civil will not accept it. The Guardia Civil will enforce the laws and if you break the the Spanish driving laws then you will need to pay your fine on the spot. Think you will get away with it because you are a tourist? You will be extremely lucky if you do!

Spanish Driving Laws - Drive on the right!

In Spain you are required to drive on the right. Hopefully this isn’t a big shock to you! If you are from the U.K. then you are used to driving on the left (obviously! - and if this is a big shock to you then please warn me when you are going to be driving in the Alicante area!!)

It is easy to get confused when you then have to drive on the right. We have all done it – you are merrily driving along when you have to make a turn. Suddenly you think ‘which side of the road am I meant to be on?'

The way I remember it is that the driver is in the center of the road and the passenger is near the pavement. EXCEPT if you have taken your UK registered right hand drive to Spain. Then it is quite obviously, driver by the pavement, passenger by the road center!

Spanish Driving laws - Road information

Road Names

The Motorway is an Autopista (prefixed by an A or an E on a map)
Maximum speed is 120 kph (73 mph).

An Autovia is a dual carriageway.
Speed limit isn’t fixed and varyws from 80 kph / 49 mph to 110 kph / 68 mph. look out for signs.

Carretera Local is a local highway.
Maximum speed is 100 kph/62 mph.
This is not a blanket speed limit, so do look out for signs as you drive.

Carretera Nacional is a national highway. (Prefixed by an N or CN before the road number).
Speed limit isn’t fixed and is between 60 kph / 32 mph and 100 kph/ 62 mph.

Carretera Camarcal is a country road. (Prefixed by a C before the road number).
Speed limit on these roads is usually between 80kph / 49 mph and 100 kph / 62 kph.

General Road Information

Because the Spanish drive on the right then you have to give way to traffic from the left. Remember this instruction, especially when negotiating roundabouts!

In Spain you cannot cross an unbroken white line. These usually appear in the middle of the road. So, if you want to turn left or overtake and there is a solid line in the middle of the road then you can’t cross it. Usually you will find there is a dedicated lane to allow you to turn left.

Also you can come across unbroken white lines on the motorway slip roads. You must wait until the line is unbroken before crossing the line and entering the motorway.

Using Indicators on motorways.

The Spanish Driving Laws stipulate that if you are caught not indicating before overtaking and then indicating again before pulling back in, you could be fined.

Toll/Peaje Roads

The Toll Roads are great to drive on. We have driven from the U.K. and back again using the Spanish roads and we used toll roads all the way! Spain has over 2,000 km of toll roads. They are quiet, well frequented by service stations and are of an excellent standard. Are you used to using the M25, M1, M6 or any other horrendous, British Motorway? Wait until you get on a Spanish toll road (and the French are the same). They are a dream to drive on!

The only drawback? You have to pay for the privilege. Well they are toll roads after all! And this is the reason they are quiet, the locals do avoid them.


I must admit that I find roundabouts a stressful experience! The Spanish are taught to drive right around the roundabout in the outside lane and then come off at their exit regardless of whether you are on the inside lane blocking their way or not!

Speed Limits

Speed limits in Spain are measured in Kilometres per Hour (KPH).
As a guide the speed limits you can expect to follow when driving in Spain are as follows;

  • Motorways - 73mph/120kph

  • Dual Carriageways - 62mph/100kph.

  • Built-up areas - 30mph/50kph

  • Residential areas - 11mph/19kph

These are guidelines only, look out for signs on the road. Remember that speed limits (and other Spanish driving laws) are enforced rigorously. You will need to note that radar traps are a regular occurrence on the roads. Should you be caught by the Guardia Civil (whether intentional or not) you will be subject to on the spot fines.

Cars with Trailers

Cars towing a trailer are limited to 49mph/80kph.

Spanish Driving Laws - Car Safety Information

Seat Belts

All persons in the car are to wear a seatbelt, in the front and rear.

There are exceptions to this rule.

The Spanish driving laws stipulate if the driver is reversing or parking then ONLY the driver can remove their seatbelt. Pregnant women (with a medical certificate stating their condition. If a condition of disability means a seatbelt cannot be worn then a certificate of exemption must be held by the driver.

These exemptions must be presented to the police.


Children aged 12 and under are to be in the rear seats of the car. Children that require a baby seat, toddler seat or booster seat must be in an (EU) approved seat.

Spanish Driving laws - Documentation

You will be required to have the following pieces of documentation with you:

  • Driving Licence. You will need your photo card along with the paper counterpart. If you are from outside the EU then you will need to take an International Driving Licence

  • Passport (Valid)

  • Car Hire Agreement

If you are traveling with your own car then you must remember to bring the following:

  • Vehicle Registration Document (V5)

  • Certificate of Motor Insurance

Items you need to carry with you in the car

Visibility Vests

Visibility Vests are now compulsory in Spain. The Spanish driving laws state that you must have at least one visibility vest. Common sense suggests that there should be a vest for every occupant, and that the vests should be carried in the car (not the boot because you need to put them on before you get out of the car).

Do this and you will not have a problem. If you breakdown or attend to an accident then you must put your visibility vest on.

Warning triangles

Warning triangles are compulsory. If you are driving a Spanish registered vehicle (hire cars are included in this) then you are required to carry 2 warning triangles. Only one warning triangle is required for non-Spanish registered vehicles, but common sense dictates that if you carry one warning triangle, you may as well carry two!

Replacement Bulbs

A replacement bulb set is compulsory.

First-aid kit

These are not compulsory. It is however, advisable to carry one.

Spanish Driving laws - Drinking and Driving Regulations

Do you really want to drink and drive? Driving in a foreign country is difficult enough without having had an alcoholic drink!

The blood alcohol level for driving in Spain is 0.5 mg (it is 0.8mg in the U.K.). However, if you have only just passed your test (within the last 2 years) then the level falls to 0.1 mg. 0.5 mg is the equivalent to one small beer and of-course if you haven’t eaten or are a woman with a small frame, that one small beer may take you over the 0.5mg threshold.

The Spanish don’t tolerate drink driving. The penalties can be anything from being fined on the spot, losing your licence and / or a jail term.

Substance Abuse

I am sure that you are aware that driving under the influence of drugs is prohibited. But don’t forget prescription drugs. Any prescription drugs that affect your ability to drive are against the law. So if you are taking prescription drugs and the warning label advises you not to drive you absolutely must not drive. If you are tested positive for substance abuse you will find that your vehicle will be immediately impounded. Who bears the cost for this? You do. You will be responsible for the impounding costs, transfer and storage of your vehicle.

Spanish Driving Laws - miscellaneous


If you see a traffic accident, you are obliged to stop and assist, even if you have not been involved. You are to assist the injured to the best of your capabilities and as soon as possible (providing it is safe). You must call for help. You must also divert traffic if at all possible until the authorities arrive.


All tourists without assets in Spain are subject to “on the spot” fines payable in cash. If you are fined then make sure you know why you have received it.

If you pay the officer then do ensure an official receipt is issued by the officer collecting the fine.


If you wear glasses you are required to carry a spare pair in the car at all times.


Dipped headlights should be used in poor daytime visibility. If you are entering a tunnel you must use your lights.

Minimum age for driving

Provided you hold a full UK licence, it is 18 for a car and for a motorcycle over 75cc. If you are hiring a car then the car hire company with have their own minimum driving age. This ranges from 21 years of age right up to 28 years of age, depending on the category of car you are hiring.


The best advice regarding parking is to park in an underground car park. It may cost a bit extra (prices will be displayed outside the car park - check before entering) but it could save you a lot of money in the long run.

If you are trying to park on the street you may find that there is a blue or yellow line on the pavement.

Blue line – means purchase a parking ticket from the nearest machine or ticket attendant and check how long you are allowed to park there for.

Yellow line – you can’t park there.

Look out for ‘no parking’ signs also.


Unleaded Petrol – Benzin
Diesel - Gasoleo ‘A’
LPG – gases licuados del petroleo

Fuel prices are government regulated.

You must turn off your engine when refueling.

Use of mobile telephones

You cannot use your mobile telephone whilst driving.

Hands free mobile telephone use however, is permitted. If you need to stop to use your telephone you must move away from the side of the road completely, away from any traffic.

Music devices

Listening to MP3s, ipods or having any other device in your ear (apart from a hearing aid) is prohibited.

Radar detectors

Radar detectors are against the law.

Further Information for Driving in Spain

Alicante to Madrid
Alicante to Barcelona
Distance Chart from Alicante
Alicante Road Safety
Alicante Road Crime
Taking a U.K. Registered Car?
Alicante Motorbikes
Driving Quiz

Return from Spanish Driving Laws to Driving in Spain
Return from Spanish Driving Laws to Discover Alicante Home Page

Return to top

1£ = 1.212€     1€ = 0.825£ 1$ = 0.760€     1€ = 1.315$

alicante car hire
Alicante Car Hire

alicante airport
Alicante Airport


places to visit
Places To Visit