August 24, 2016 No Comments

Driving In Spain – Don’t Let This Happen To You

The national road network has Madrid as its centre with major roads radiating out to the different corners of the country. In recent years major investment has been made to modernise this system and link important centres inland and along the coast.

Driving License

European Union Citizens

EU citizens may drive in Spain with their own country’s driving licence. This must be registered with the traffic department within 6 months of the date their residence permit has been issued. Once the driving licence has been registered with the Spanish Authorities, the driver will, as of that moment, have to pass the same medical tests as those with Spanish driving licences, and with the same frequency.

Non-EU Citizens

As of June 1998, non-EU nationals can no longer exchange their old driving licence. The only non-EU licences that can be exchanged are those from Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, Japan and Korea.

Those with Non-EU driving licences not belonging to one of the above countries may drive in Spain with an International licence for a maximum of one year, as long as it does not expire beforehand, or for a maximum of 6 months after the work/residence permit has been issued. After this time, the driver will have to take the Spanish written and practical examinations on conventional (non-automatic) vehicles.

After one year non-EU nationals, with driving licences from one of the above countries, must apply for a Spanish driving licence at their local traffic department (Jefatura Provincial de Tráfico).

Importation Of Vehicles

The regulations governing the importation of vehicles are precise. However, in practice the paperwork required often turns out to be very time-consuming. It is often more efficient to engage the services of a “gestor” rather than attempt to struggle with bureaucratic procedures oneself.

From a European Union country

A European Union national coming to reside in Spain may bring his own car without further bureaucratic procedures. We advise you to consult with your own insurance company to increase the insurance to cover having the car outside your home country. However, once in possession of Residence Permit, you are legally required to apply for Spanish registration of your car.

Once in possession of Residence Permit, you are no longer permitted to have a foreign-registered vehicle in Spain, and are legally required to apply for Spanish number plates for your car. Providing you have owned the car for a period of six months, this involves various steps including:

  • Technical inspection of the vehicle (“Inspección Técnica de Vehículos”).
  • Payment of transfer tax, road tax and number plates.
  • Registering yourself on the census at your local town hall.
  • Insuring the car with a Spanish insurance company.

From a non-European Union country

Once the application to import has been lodged and customs duties paid, the car is issued with provisional plates for a period of up to six months. After this time application has to be made to permanently import the vehicle into Spain. It would certainly be less frustrating and time-consuming to hire the services of a “gestor” for help with this.

Purchasing A Spanish Registered Vehicle

There is a difficult period for those arriving in Spain before their residence permit has been granted as they cannot legally purchase a vehicle with a Spanish domestic registration. This can generally be solved by renting or by the company providing a car, or leasing one for the employee’s use.

Speed Limits

Unless otherwise stated:

  • Motorway and “autovías” 120 km/hour 75 mph
  • Dual Carriageway 100 km/hour 62 mph
  • Main roads outside residential areas 90 km/hour 56 mph
  • In towns 50 km/hour 30 mph
  • Residential areas 20 km/hour 12 mph

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