This blog is intended to give you a quick overview of a few of the issues you might face around driving in Spain if you are a European citizen.
Let’s start with the basics… To drive a car in Spain you must be at least 18 years old and the same goes for a motorbike over 125cc. At 15 you can drive a motorbike up to 50cc and this increases to 125cc when you turn 16. If you are a citizen of a European Union country your licence from your home country will be recognised in Spain. (If you happen to be from the USA your licence may also be recognised, depending on what state it is from.)
If you will be spending less than 6 months in Spain then you don’t need to do anything, you can continue to use your licence from your home country. After 6 months you are required to get a Spanish licence but if you are coming here to live it’s probably a good idea to go ahead and apply for your Spanish licence as soon as you have your NIE (Número de Identidad Extranjero). If you need assistance in obtaining your NIE callCarlos are the experts and will be more than happy to guide you through the procedure.
To apply for a Spanish driving licence with the DGT (Dirección General de Tráfico = National Department for Traffic) you will need to fill in the form – available in your local DGT office or from their website – as well as copies of your passport, your NIE, two passport photos, proof of address (empadronamiento) from your local Town Hall (Ayuntamiento) dated within the previous three months and, of course, your existing driving licence along with a sworn statement that your licence hasn’t been suspended and that you hold no additional licence from another country. Once you have applied you will be given a receipt and a copy of your original foreign licence and this will be valid for driving until you receive your new Spanish licence – which usually takes 30-90 days. Once your Spanish licence is issued your original licence will be returned to the issuing authority in your home country. If you are under 65 the licence is good for ten years, 5 years if you are aged over 65.
Importing your vehicle into Spain
If you are bringing a vehicle from another European Union country into Spain but will be spending less than 6 months of the year here, then you need do nothing as you can stay registered in your country of residence. If you are moving here to take up residency (again, from another E.U. country) you can bring your car with you, free from import duties, but you should get your vehicle re-registered in Spain within 30 days of obtaining your resident status here. Even if you’re feeling lazy and “couldn’t be bothered” going through the hassle and paperwork and would rather keep your old registration from home and risk the police checkpoints, the system will catch up with you in the end as your vehicle’s certificate of roadworthiness (known as the “ITV” in Spain = Inspección Técnica de Vehículos) will eventually expire and you’ll then have the choice of either driving back to your original country to get it renewed – or re-registering your vehicle in Spain! It is not possible to get an ITV on a foreign registered car in Spain. There is quite a bit of bureaucracy involved (too much to go into here) but at callCarlos we have lots of experience in registering foreign vehicles for our clients so rather than get bogged down with all that paperwork just give us a call and let us do the rest!
When it comes to insurance the procedure is pretty much the same as in any other country with plenty of companies and different types of policies to choose from, so it’s always good to shop around a bit before deciding on one. What is very important to be aware of if you are bringing a car into Spain is how long your insurance from your home country covers you from the moment you leave your home country. Some insurance companies may cover you for six months (after which time you should be switching to Spanish registration and insurance etc anyway), but many policies only cover you for 90 days of international travel – another reason why it’s advisable to re-register your vehicle sooner rather than later if you are planning to stay. If you spend more than the 90 days each year but less than 6 months in Spain, be sure to check with your insurance provider at home that you are adequately covered. Better safe than sorry, as they say! At callCarlos we regularly assist people in sourcing the most suitable insurance and we are even registered sub-agents.
In case of an accident…
If you are unfortunate enough to be involved in a road accident there are a few things you should do. If the accident is only minor and no real damage is done you may be able to agree with the other driver involved that no further action need be taken. If you do not manage to come to such an agreement, or if anyone has been injured, the police must be called, and they must report the incident. You should exchange insurance details with the owner of the other vehicle. If the other driver refuses to cooperate you should make a note of their vehicle registration and type of vehicle, and anything else that will help identify him or her, including witnesses. If you or a passenger is injured and requires medical attention be sure that the medical report states that the injuries in question were the result of the accident as you will need this for any insurance claim. You have seven days from the date of the accident to report to your insurance company. If you are not a Spanish or Catalan speaker and are involved in an accident callCarlos provide a live translation service to help with communication with the other driver or the police.
Or a breakdown?
What about if you are on a really bad run of luck and your car breaks down? If possible, drive the car onto the hard shoulder or, if you can, the next rest area. Before exiting your car, turn on the emergency indicators and put on your high-visibility vest. It is mandatory in Spain that each car carries one high-vis vest for each occupant – for example, for a 5-seater car you must have 5 high-vis vests. It is also compulsory to have two emergency triangle signs and you should place one 50m behind your car and one 50m in front. (If you are driving a foreign EU registered car only one emergency triangle is mandatory. In this case place, it 50m behind your vehicle.) Your insurance company will have provided you with a 24-hour roadside assistance number to call for these situations. If for whatever reason you don’t have such a number and are on an autopista (motorway) you should be always within 2km of an SOS roadside phone. In the worst-case scenario, you can call the emergency services on 112. However, you call the breakdown services, try and give them an as accurate as possible description of your location. Hopefully, you’ll never need to put any of that into use but it’s better to be up to speed. (No pun intended!)
Safe driving out there!