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Question:  What do I need to know when driving in Spain?

Answer:  Driving is on the right hand side in Spain just like most European countries. The minimum age for driving in Spain and if your car is insured in the UK it is automatically covered third-party in Spain. All passengers are required to wear seat belts at all time. Children under the age of 12 are not allowed to sit in the front unless a rear facing child seat is fitted.  

Leaded petrol is normally sold as Super or Super/97. Unleaded is recognized as Sin Plomo 98 or 95. Diesel is known as gasoleo. The petrol stations are not normal open 24-hours and some even close for lunch 2-5 and sometimes on Sundays. It pays not too let your fuel tank run down too low just in case. 



Spain's Speed Limits: 

Motorway/Duel Carriageway: 120km/75mph

Built Up Areas:  50km/31mphOther

Roads:  90km/56mph  

The Spanish motorway (autopista) system has seen some very big investment in recent years and they now have some of the best networks in Europe. Many of the motorways now have tolls though they are reasonably priced. It also makes the roads a little quieter though you do miss out on some wonderful scenery. 

The road signs are very clear and if you do happen to miss your turn-off there is normally another exit not too far ahead so you can double back if needed. 

The smaller roads have many small roundabouts instead of the traffic lights you see on most UK roads. This ensures the traffic is constantly moving. You also get to pass through some picturesque town and villages and some breathtaking views on the coastal routes. 

You can purchase good road maps from any tourist shop, service station and newsagent. Taking your time is paramount as speeding is always the main cause of accidents and one of the main factors to getting lost. 



Question:  How do I buy a new car in Spain?

Answer:  Spain has a very strong second hand car market so many drivers prefer to buy new models and enjoy the benefits of purchasing straight from the dealers showroom. The cost of new vehicles are cheaper than in the UK but more expensive in many other Countries such as Germany and Belgium.  

New car tax in Spain is quite expensive and is one of the highest in Europe. 

This makes it a very competitive market for the dealers and a buyers market for potential new car drivers. It pays to do some shopping around to see what is on offer in the way of discounts. 

Most dealerships will provide incentives such as free upgrades though it would be better to try for more discounts just to see how much they want your business.  

To buy a new car in Spain you need to either be a resident, in this case you need to provide your resident’s card, passport, copy of your property deeds and a padron from the local Town Hall.  The details on the deeds must match the person buying the car.  Or if you are renting property then your lease must be 12-months minimum. You will still need to show copies of your passport and permanent or temporary resident’s card. 

You will normally have to wait for the IVA certificate to come through on completion and this can take as long as 10-days. You will not need to renew the IVA road worthiness certificate until the 4th year. 


Question:  What do I need to know about buying a used car in Spain?

Answer:  If you have come to Spain looking for a used car bargain then you may well be disappointed. The used car market is very strong and with little rain (and rust) the used cars command higher prices than most other countries in Europe. It is better to buy a used car that is 2-3 years old and is coming to an end of its warranty. If you buy a used before this period then the car is still depreciating in value.  

If you are familiar with buying used cars then you will know what to check for such as brakes, clutch, oil leeks and mileage accuracy to the paperwork.  If you are unsure it is better to pay a qualified English speaking mechanic to look the car over for faults. 

You will find all the main second hand car dealers in the English speaking newspapers such as the Costa Blanca News.  

It is better to buy from a registered car dealer as this will mean you will get 12-months warranty as standard. You will also ensure that you get all the relevant paperwork such as current ITV certificate, service receipts and transfer of ownership paperwork. 

You will find cheaper cars inland away from the coast though you may find that the language is a problem. I would recommend buying from dealers who speak good English and also have a service garage just in case things go wrong. 

If you buy privately then you may have to register the car in your name which means getting the paperwork from the traffic department. Getting involved in Spanish red tape is not something we would recommend. If you want to make the process run smoothly, buy from the larger dealerships who can prepare all the paperwork for you and provide warranty back-up. It is worth paying a little extra just to avoid these little problems.  


Question:  What do I need to know before I bring my car to Spain?

Answer:  Before you have arrived in Spain you should have already made provisions for driving in Spain to comply with Spanish law. You can prepare all of this in your home country before your journey starts. 

You need to ensure that your vehicle is fully insured, taxed with an MOT certificate. You will need your driving license and European registration plates fitted. If you have an older car then displaying a GB sticker is fine. Your headlights must be pointing to the kerb on the right (the opposite to the UK) so you will have to fit deflectors. You will also need a complete breakdown kit.  This must be with the vehicle at all times. 


What should be included in my International Breakdown Kit? 

2 X Red breakdown triangle:  these must be placed 100 feet in front of your car during breakdown.2 X Fluorescent vests:  worn by the driver and passenger when breakdown occurs.Set of spare lamp bulbs:  these are replacements for your headlights and side lights. You will also need the tools to change them.Optional Extras:  flashlight, battery cables, spare fuses, cleaning cloths for the windscreen. 

Ensure that you are covered for breakdowns while in Spain. If you are travelling through France into Spain then you need to be covered. Just inform your breakdown Company of your specific route and make a note of the emergency telephone numbers. 

It's advisable to bring your mobile phone in case you have to call the breakdown Company. Although there are emergency telephones by the roadside on all the main highways you may have problems in more remote places. Not all of the smaller petrol stations have public telephones.  

If your road tax, insurance or MOT certificate expires during the six-month period then you cannot drive your car because it is illegal. You cannot get foreign MOT or tax certificates in Spain. Ensure that your car is legal in Spain before you leave.  


Some Useful Spanish Highway Code Information:

Always give way to cars coming from the left, especially on slip roads joining the highway and of course roundabouts. 

Do not drink and drive. The Spanish take this very seriously. It really is not worth the risk, just get a taxi. 

Do not cross over a solid line in middle of the road to turn left, this is illegal and many drivers have been fined on the spot. You need to continue to the next roundabout to come back or turn right to find a road that leads back to a roundabout you may have passed.  

If a person holds up their hand or steps onto a zebra crossing you must stop to let them cross.  

Do not park where the kerb is painted yellow or blue. If you are unsure if the parking place is legal it would be better to park in an official car park where there is security.  

The Spanish police do not provide parking tickets. If you park illegally your car will be towed away. The cost is around 80 € to get your car back.  


Question:  What is involved in getting a Spanish car registration?

Answer:  If you have brought your car over from Europe and your 6-months driving period is elapsing then you have some decisions to make. You will either need to garage the car after the 6-month period, take it back out of Spain or to change it over to Spanish plates. 

If you are planning to stay in Spain permanently then changing the registration of your car over to Spanish plates would be the sensible thing to do. The Spanish police are clamping down on foreign cars that exceed the 6-months grace period.  

The procedure for changing your car over to Spanish plates is a fairly simple one though it may incur some additional costs depending on the condition of your car.  The traffic department in Spain has very specific rules and regulations for Spanish registration.  

A foreign car will be put through a fairly detailed inspection to gain a pass the ITV certificate. This is the Spanish equivalent of an MOT certificate for road worthiness. 

First you will need to check the cars headlights to ensure that they conform to Spanish laws. This means they have to point to the kerb on the right hand side as you drive. If you are bringing your car over from the UK you may have added stickers to the headlamps to redirect them to the correct angle. This will not be enough on Spanish registration so you will need to change the headlamps over. 

Your tires must be the correct ones according to the car manual. They must also match on each axel. If one tire has a different manufacturer than the other then you need to change it over. You can use this as a spare for emergencies.

Another point to look out for are tow-bars, if your tow bar has not been fitted in Spain then it is probably illegal. You will have to remove it or change it to a Spanish model.  

The ITV inspection will also look at the registration plate in the sill and will make a copy along with the cars details under the bonnet to ensure it is legal. They will then focus on your headlamps, indicators, brakes, steering, traction, and exhaust emissions. 

The main focus of the test is road safety though they would fail you if your exhaust emissions are too high. If your car fails you need to correct the points outlined and put it through a retest.

Next to all ITV stations are mechanical engineers who can look over your vehicle to see if there is anything obvious that needs to be rectified before the test. They work with the ITV though is not actually part of the system. 

You will also need a padron from your local Town Hall. To obtain the padron you will need to take with you your passport, NIE number, utility bill and a copy of your property deeds. This padron enables you to drive a Spanish registered car because of proof of residence. 

You will need to pay either import duty on the car or you would send a payment to the British Consulate. In many cases it is better to pay the import costs. This would depend on the type of car you are importing. 

Once the car has been registered you will need to pay the road tax at your local Suma office. This is much lower than other Countries in the EU. 

If you do not like the hassles of doing all of this yourself, then there are legally registered Companies that can take care of everything for you, they normally charge between 500-550 € plus the costs of changes to your car such as headlamps, tires and road tax etc.  

All you would provide is the padron, NIE number, passport and the Company will do the pre ITV inspection, make the changes and then put it through the test. After you have your ITV certificate the car can be registered at the Traffic Department who will issue the new paperwork and you can fit your new Spanish plates. 

The time scale on the whole process of registering your car onto Spanish plates is around 5-10 working days.