Costa Blanca north
What we do
A rough guide to motoring in Spain
Spanish traffic police may stop you without reason and have the right to see your licence and vehicle documents. You can be fined €300 on-the-spot for failing to have all the required documents in your vehicle. Sometimes a 30 % discount is given for immediate payment. They may even escort you to a cash dispenser for you to withdraw the cash and pay the fine. When driving in Spain you should always carry your driving licence, insurance certificate and purchase documents. You should also have a receipt to show that your insurance premiums have been paid. If you cannot pay the fine, be aware that your car can be towed away; you would then have to pay an extra charge to retrieve it.
British citizens may import their cars into Spain bearing its own licence plates. You may keep it in Spain indefinitely as long as you keep your Road Fund Licence and MOT certificate up to date. The only downside to this is that you may not keep the vehicle in Spain for longer than six months in any year. You must also hold insurance for the country in which the car is registered. This can prove to be a problem as some insurance companies are reluctant to insure vehicles not habitually kept in the UK. Also in this section is car hire information from Alicante Airport.
Registering your Vehicle
You may import your own car and register it in Spain but you must pay import tax which at time of writing was 12%. If you are registered as a Spanish resident the 12% tax will be waived. When you import your car be aware that you are only allowed to drive it from the port of entry to your Spanish place of residence. You must apply for Spanish licence plates within 30 days of the car entering the country.
You are allowed to drive in Spain on a valid EU or UK licence for a period not exceeding six months. After that you must apply for a Spanish Licence or have your own licence stamped and approved by the Provincial Traffic Headquarters (usually found at the Police Station) or leave Spain. For either of the first two options you will need a copy of your NIE form, a photocopy of your Driving Licence and photocard (both sides), your original driving licence, your passport and a photocopy of your passport.
A licence is required to drive a motorcycle in Spain. The minimum age for riding a machine over 125cc is 18 years. 16 year olds may ride a machine from 50cc up to 125cc. This law is set to change in the near future as the Government plans to make it illegal for anyone under 18 to carry a passenger. Children under 12 are not permitted to travel as passengers on motorcycles.
If you are unfortunate enough to be involved in an accident you should assess the situation and take steps to ensure safety without destroying any forensic evidence or jeopardising the safety of anyone. You should attend to any victims and call for the assistance of the rescue services. You should mark the presence of the vehicle on the road and then try to move it to a lay-by or the hard shoulder. Put a warning triangle 50m from the rear of the car. Witnesses of an accident are obliged to contact the emergency services and tend to any casualties until the ambulance arrives. If the injuries are non-serious they need not be reported to the authorities. SOS telephones are available on motorways, on other roads there is normally a high traffic police presence. In the absence of either, other drivers will normally assist. A vehicle rendered impossible to drive by accident or breakdown may only be towed away by a breakdown vehicle. However, another vehicle may tow it to a place of safety in cases where its presence would constitute a serious hazard. This is NEVER allowed on motorways or dual carriageways.
If you have a breakdown, you can seek assistance from the Spanish Royal Automobile Club. Their Madrid telephone number is 00 34 91 5947 400, they should be able to put you in touch with a local branch.
Insurance and Documents
It is compulsory in Spain to have third party insurance. It is also compulsory to carry when driving your insurance documents and a receipt of payment, your log book and your driving licence.
Drinking and Driving
Failure to comply with the drink/drive regulations is considered a serious offence in Spain. It can result in loss of licence for a statutory minimum period of 12 months, a fine or weekend arrest and immediate immobilisation of your vehicle by the Police. Under article 379 of the current legislation anyone found driving under the influence of toxic drugs, narcotics, psychotropic substances or alcohol will be sentenced from 8 to 12 weekends arrest or/and a fine and in all cases a driving licence suspension from one to four years.
It is compulsory in Spain to submit to drink/drugs testing when requested by the Police. Article 380 states that anyone refusing to submit will be charged with an offence of grave disobedience and will be sentenced under article 556 from six months to one year imprisonment.
Anyone found to be impaired physically or mentally due to the influence of drugs will be banned from driving.
The limits are similar to UK, with a lower limit for new drivers. To be safe - DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE AT ALL!
What If You Are Caught Driving Whilst Under The Influence?
If after all the warnings above you are unfortunate (or stupid enough) to be caught what should you do? The main thing is to show respect at all times to the police officers carrying out the investigation. Try to behave in as sober a manner as possible as your behaviour will be reported upon in any court appearance.
Employ a competent solicitor. He should ensure that everything is in order with the diagnostic tests you have submitted to. He will generally negotiate with the courts for lesser sentencing, reduced fines etc.
Remember under Spanish Law you have the right NOT to declare against yourself (in layman terms this means you have the right to be as economical with the truth as you wish!)
Contact your Embassy for further advice.
The Spanish Highway Code complies with EU regulations.
During the daytime, dipped headlights are to be used only when driving on a contra-flow lane or passing through most tunnels. (Motorcycles should use dipped headlights throughout the day). In cases of poor visibility, headlights (dipped or otherwise) and/or front fog lamps should be used. Rear fog lamps may only be used when visibility is seriously restricted.
Sidelights must be used between sunset and sunrise, also in tunnels, unless a sign outside indicates dipped headlights. Dipped headlights with sidelights should be used at night in all areas.
Motorists should always carry spare bulbs and fuses in the vehicle.
Drivers and all passengers must wear seat belts except when reversing or parking. There are exceptions to this rule - disabled passengers, people suffering from a serious medical condition (a medical certificate in Spanish or official translation of same must be carried at all times) and pregnant women are all exempt. Failure to comply is considered a serious offence.
Learning to drive in Spain
In Spain there is no provisional driving licence. Until you pass your test you are only allowed to drive with your driving instructor. Driving lessons cost an average of around €25 per hour plus a one off fee of approximately €325 for theory classes. Once you have finished your theory classes and your instructor deems you ready to take your examination you will have to pay the exam fee. The theory exam is multiple choices and consists of 40 questions. You are allowed only four wrong answers. As in the UK you have to pass your theory test before you can take your practical test. Be prepared for a surprise on your practical exam since it is often a communal affair; with other candidates in the back of the vehicle with the examiner. Each candidate will take it in turn to drive. On passing your test you will be presented with a white and green L plate. In theory you must drive at under 80km/hour for a year.
The speed limits are as follows:
Items which must always be carried
It is compulsory at all times when driving in Spain to carry the driving licence, third party insurance documents and receipt of payment, log book, spare bulbs, fuses, spare wheel, two warning triangles, a reflective jacket (which must be worn when leaving your vehicle on the highway). Drivers who wear glasses must carry a spare pair at all times whilst driving. It is also important to ensure that you have enough fuel for your journey, since drivers of vehicles immobilised on the road due to lack of fuel will be fined (note however, that it is illegal to carry spare fuel).
It is illegal to use mobile phones whilst driving unless using a hands free system which does not require the use of an ear piece. Law breakers face fines of up to €300. Drivers are allowed to pull over to the side of the road in order to take emergency calls. Another point to note is that all mobiles and electrical equipment must be switched off when entering a petrol station. Failure to comply will result in a €60 fine.
Infants under 3 should travel in the rear seat using an approved safety seat appropriate to their weight and height. Children over 3 but under150cm in height also need to use an approved safety system appropriate for their size. Children under 12 may not travel in front seats unless fitted with a regulation restraint and booster cushion if necessary.
Motor Vehicle Tax
Motor vehicle tax is required as in UK and is paid annually by all vehicle owners. It is payable to the local government and the fee is based on the size/type of vehicle and whatever cost the local council in your area charge.
Yellow Lines & Yellow painted pavement edges
Strictly NO parking. Some locals do in fact ignore this rule but it is not advised to do so. It can be costly to reclaim your car after it has been towed away by the Grua or to pay for it unclamping.
In some towns, it depends on the day of the week or sometimes the week of the month as to which side of the road you are allowed to park on. Take note of which side other cars are parked. If you can't understand the sign it's a fair bet that if one side of the road is car free this system is in operation. Cars parked on the wrong side on the wrong day are normally towed away.
Take care when parking your car not to leave any valuables in sight. Hire cars are easy to identify so pay particular attention not to leave anything of value in the car and always try to park in a brightly lit place at night or in a secure car park. Make a note of the vehicle registration number and carry it with you in case the worst happens. Sadly it is quite common in Spain for drivers involved in a collision with a parked vehicle not to stop.
If you own or are hiring a 4 wheel drive vehicle, you may be at greater risk of car theft, since Spain is the gateway for trafficking of stolen vehicles into North Africa. Because of the desert terrain these cars are much sought after.
Toll roads or Autopistas are expensive in Spain. The roads however, are of excellent standard. On most long distance journeys you can collect your ticket at the start and pay what you owe when you exit the Autopista. For short journeys you pay on exit from the toll road.
Hints for driving in Spain
Always give way to traffic coming from the left this is especially important at roundabouts. Watch out for cars 'undertaking' on dual carriageways, also look out for mopeds which often drive along the hard shoulder. Traffic lights are sometimes situated so high up that you miss them. Be prepared to encounter impatience on the roads, 'honking' of horns seems to be a national pastime. Take great care when turning left; normally there is a special lane for making this manoeuvre. It may seem a little odd, to turn right in order to turn left, but rest assured it is much safer than any other option.
Tips on how to hire a car at Alicante Airport
Alicante Airport Car Hire is right before the exit door of the arrival area and you will find the desks of all major car rental companies operating at Alicante airport.
The rental desks can be accessed from within the arrival area or from outside. (No panic if you leave the restricted area and forgot to pick up your car keys.).
AlicanteAirport Car Rental
As the parking area at the airport has been enlarged over the past year, the parking area for all major car rental companies has also been widely expanded.
Also worth checking out is the one I use. Contact Mark Taylor on 96 583 1926 or email [email protected]