Driving throughout Spain gives a traveler the ideal opportunity to seek out all the hidden treasure the country has to offer, taking away the stress associated with public transport.
That isn’t saying that public transport is inconvenient, quite the opposite. But for a visitor attempting to take in many different locations in a given day and possibly take unanticipated detours, the option is just not suitable.
A Leiebil I Spania (translation: car hire in Spania) is accessible and available countrywide, with the process being relatively straightforward and simple, providing you’re in possession of the applicable documents.
If you intend to hire a car to explore independently, there are tips and guidance that will help ensure a good experience. Let’s talk about car rentals and driving while in lovely Spain.
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Renting A Vehicle In Spain
For those carrying a credit card, driving license, and an International Driving Permit, you can request a car rental from an agency in Spain. The process boasts as straightforward with minimal challenges. Some of the requirements that need to be met when hiring a car include:
Before proceeding with the rental, the agent will be looking for specific documentation from you to move forward. These things include:
- Driving license (valid)
- International Driving Permit (you won’t need this if you have an “EU-issued license”)
- Verification of the booking
- Credit card
The minimum age to drive an auto in the country is 18 years of age. Regardless of whether you have a valid driving license, you will not be able to operate a motor vehicle below that age. Before booking an auto, it’s essential to find out what the car agency has set as their minimum driving age.
These can vary from company to company, but as a rule, it’s 21 years of age, with the maximum being 65. For sports editions or luxury options, there may be different criteria. The agencies have the option of setting higher rates for any from the age of 21 through 24.
For motorists driving in Spain with a US-issued driving license, an International Driving Permit needs to accompany your license. That’s something that you need to have in hand before traveling to the country.
Most car hire agencies prefer to rent a vehicle with a full tank of fuel and have it returned with a full tank. The price of petrol is relatively higher than in other countries, but Spain provides both diesel and gasoline. The suggestion with rental cars is to input diesel as the primary fuel source.
You’ll want to pay attention to the fuel policies for the specific agency you’ve established a contract with. The idea is to avoid refueling charges.
What Are The Requirements When Driving In Spain
As a driver in Spain, the necessary permits and documents are a must. If these are not presented when requested, it can result in sanctions and significant fines. These include:
- A government-issued ID (valid) – example: passport
- Driving license (valid) accompanied by an International Driving Permit or IDP
- Documents relating to either auto ownership or rental contract for those renting through a rental agency
You should always have your original, valid driving license on your person accompanied by the International Driving Permit. The IDP is merely described as a “translation” of the authentic license and acts as a legal authorization to operate a motor vehicle along international roadways.
There are also requirements pertaining to specific safety accessories and equipment to help in the event of an emergency. Not all of these are mandatory, but if you’re on the “hard shoulder” or in the roadway without a fluorescent jacket, you can receive hefty fines.
- All occupants must have access to a fluorescent jacket.
- Warning triangles (2)
- If the driver wears glasses, there must be an extra pair in the car
- Fire extinguisher
- Spare tires
- Extra light bulbs
- First-aid kit
The required equipment, including extra bulbs, warning triangles, and fluorescent vests, will be in the vehicle for a hired car. You should double check these items to verify before the contract is signed.
What To Know When Driving In Spain
Before you explore many of the beautiful cities in the country, it’s vital to gain some insight into the traffic laws and educate yourself on the road signs.
Being in unfamiliar territory makes driving challenging, as does the possible language barrier. Still, the more you try to become familiar, the less likely you’ll be a red flag to the authorities or possibly receive a fine or penalties ruining a lovely holiday. Some things to remember:
Always dress appropriately when driving an auto
The laws in Spain prohibit operating a vehicle without adequate attire. That means all drivers need to be fully dressed in shirts, some sort of bottoms, with no bare feet or flip flops.
Authorities and the law stipulate that not wearing a shirt or wearing inappropriate footwear has the potential for reducing a motorist’s ability to maintain control of the auto leading to accidents. Finding someone inadequately dressed can lead to receiving a fine equating to (EUR) 200 (USD) 237.
Pay attention to parking rules
Parking in the smaller cities and some more rural areas is more straightforward than parking in the major cities. The indication is if you don’t need to drive in the major cities to avoid doing so, especially in a hired car. Still, specific guidelines stipulate where individuals can park and how they’re supposed to park in any area.
- A motorist cannot park within a distance of 5m or 16ft of an intersection/bend.
- A few one-way streets allow vehicles to park on both sides of the road, but as a rule, motorists are supposed to park on the right side of the road.
- There is a maximum limit of no more than two hours for paid parking spaces. Payment is received via roadside machines/meters. Some cities also make mobile apps available.
- Drivers are only to park in “blue zones” referenced as “zona Azul, again with a two-hour parking max with no limit between the hours of 8 pm to 8 am.
- Directions are given on no parking signs as to where you’re not supposed to park. If you can’t park on either side of the road, the sign will indicate an arrow pointing in opposite directions.
- You’ll notice official attendants wearing uniforms when performing their tasks. People will try to pose as “unofficial parking attendants” to seek payment for assisting you with parking.
- Avoid illegal parking or having your car towed by parking in a multi-floor garage where you’ll pay (hourly) upon leaving. An illegally parked vehicle will be towed, with the owner needing to go to the local police station to pay the fines to get the car returned. Some towns will incorporate clamps on the wheels instead of using towing. But the police will still need to come to remove the clamps.
How To Avoid Fines And Penalties
Traffic violations in Spain will come with fines and penalties which can range from (EUR) 80 / (USD) 95 to as much as (EUR) 500 / (USD) 593. The country has two police departments for traffic violations, including the “Municipal Police” for minor incidents and violations with parking plus the “Civil Guard” for serious infractions. The “National Police” handle crimes of national scope.
- Immediate fine: Each department can insist penalties be doled out “on the spot.” In other scenarios, they will confiscate an auto until the fine is handled. That’s more along the lines of how most penalties are handed out.
- Immobilization: A car can be immobilized according to authorities if there are “mechanical impairments” or if the motorist is unwilling to pay the fine. Drunk driving is an offense that can cause a car to be immobilized.
- Criminal Activity: Severe violations will lead to hefty fines and potential confiscation of the auto, along with the possibility of jail time ranging in term from as long as six months to possibly a year+.
A driver can also get fines for things that might not deem necessarily traffic-related. A few of these include:
- (EUR) 80 – illegible license plate (dirty)
- (EUR)100- Excessive speeding
- (EUR)80+- Throwing things from the car windows. This can go as high to as significant as (EUR) 200.
- (EUR)200- Without a fluorescent jacket
- (EUR)30+- This can go as high as (EUR) 3000 for washing a vehicle in the roadway
- (EUR)200- Driving with an arm/hand outside of the car window
- (EUR)200- Not having seat belts secure
- (EUR)300- Can range as high as (EUR) 600 for driving under the influence of alcohol
Hopefully, reading some of these tips and tricks as someone hiring a car will educate you on some of the dos and don’ts for roadway behavior. Following the rules will keep the authorities away from you and prevent the possibility of you getting one of these hefty fines or, worse, your hired car confiscated.
No one wants to have to explain that to a rental car agency. Fortunately, after reading these guidelines, you won’t need to worry about that.