In Spain, the regulations regarding vehicle documents and procedures to be followed in the event of an accident are not necessarily the same as in other countries, even within Europe. Whilst driving in Spain you must have:

  • Valid Driving Licence.
  • Your Residence Card, passport or identity card.
  • Accident Report Form.
  • Car Registration documents.
  • Road Tax receipt. This is an annual charge paid to the local government (Town Hall).
  • ITV (MOT equivalent). All cars, vans and motorcycles require an inspection according to age and usage.
  • Two Red Warning Triangles, spare set of Light Bulbs, Spare Fuses, Spare Wheel, Tools for changing wheels and all motorists must now carry a reflective jacket in the car and it must be worn when leaving the vehicle during an emergency, such as a breakdown on the highway. Drivers who wear spectacles must carry a spare pair.

NB. You do not need the originals of these documents as they can be stolen from the car and it is safer to carry stamped photocopies. To have a photocopy officially stamped, take the original documents to your Town Hall where they will make the photocopies and stamp them free of charge. This can also be done at the local Guardia Civil station.


There are, in effect, two categories of insurance in Spain, Third Party (minimum required under Spanish law) and Fully Comprehensive.

The basic Third Party insurance does not cover damage caused to the vehicle or the personal effects of the driver nor injuries suffered by the driver or immediate relatives.


In case of an accident in Spain you will need to fill out an Accident Report Form. These are provided by the insurance company along with your Insurance Policy. You will need to provide the following information:

  • Names of the drivers involved, NIE, DNI or Passport numbers, registration numbers of the vehicles involved, insurance companies names and addresses, passenger names and addresses, witnesses etc.
  • Circumstances of the accident, including weather and road conditions, speeds involved, signs present etc.
  • Personal injuries.
  • Vehicle damage.
  • Accident report, including a drawing of the position of the vehicles involved.
  • Guardia Civil or Local Police Report details if they were present at the scene of the accident.

If you do not have an Accident report Form, ask any of the other drivers involved for one. When both parties agree about the circumstances of the accident, the report form is signed (by both parties) and should be sent to the insurance companies.

If agreement cannot be reached, the Guardia Civil or Local Police should be called by one of the drivers and, in this case, an official report of the accident will be made.
Guardia Civil 062
Local Police 092
Ambulance 112

The maximum periods for claims are:

  • To the insurance company – 7 days
  • Criminal proceedings – 6 months
  • Civil action – 1 year

If medical attention is necessary, keep all medical records and bills in order to quantify any claims


Routine checks by the Guardia Civil, especially in the early hours of the morning, are commonplace and not dependent upon having committed a motoring offence.

If you are breathalysed and the result is positive, you will be prosecuted. A Lawyer or Gestor may be able to represent you when you go to the Jefatura Provincial de Tráfico.


European Foreign Residents are no longer obliged to have a Spanish driving licence as they can drive with a driving licence from their country of origin or with a European licence

To obtain a Spanish ‘carnet de conducir’ (drivers’ license) you will need to visit the ‘Jefatura Provincial de Tráfico’ (Traffic Department). Regulations do change from time to time, but you will probably need:

  • Residence card or NIE and passport.
  • Census certificate from the Town Hall.
  • Medical certificate issued by an authorized centre. In Nerja this is Clinica Rincon.
  • Driving licence from your country.
  • 2 photographs.

The cost is roughly €17

Up to age 45 years you must renew every 10 years

From 45 to 70 years you must renew every 5 years

From the age of 71 you must renew every 2 years

Renewal involves paying a fee and passing physical and ‘psico-tecnico’ exams.


The PENALTY POINTS SYSTEM , introduced in Spain on July 1st 2006, changes the way of dealing with drivers who do not respect the traffic regulations and infractions involve heavy fines, loss of points and eventual or even immediate, withdrawal of your driving licence.

Drivers who have had their driving licence for more than 3 years start with a total of 12 points.

Drivers who have had their driving licence for less than 3 years, start with a total of 8 points.

Good drivers will be given 2 extra bonus points after three years driving without having committed any offence, and 1 additional extra point after the following three years without any infraction up to a maximum of 15 points.


  • Speeding – excess of 21 km/h – 30 km/h.
  • Parking or stopping on curves, slopes, tunnels, crossroads or any other danger spots where traffic or pedestrians are at risk.
  • Parking or stopping in bus lanes.
  • Using anti-radar equipment.
  • Driving without lights when necessary or using them incorrectly.
  • Carrying a passenger under the age of 12 on motorbikes or mopeds.

NB. Motorbike passengers: children of 7 – 12 years of age may only be transported as passengers on motorbikes by their parents or any person with a written authorization and the use of a helmet is obligatory.
Bicycle passengers: children under 7 years of age may only be taken by their parents or any person with a written authorization and a special seat, helmet and safety harness are obligatory.


  • Speeding – excess of 31 km/h – 40 km/h.
  • Driving without fastened seatbelt.
  • Driving without helmet on motorbikes.
  • Manual use of mobile phones, headphones or any other device while driving.
  • Making an illegal turn.
  • Not maintaining the security distance of 70m to the vehicle in front.


  • Speeding over the limit by more than 40 km/h, whenever this does not mean an excess of 50%.
  • Alcohol: between 0.25 mg/l and 0.5 mg/l in the breathalyser test. (For Professional drivers and beginners the range is: 0.15 mg/l to 0.30 mg/l.)Your driving licence will be confiscated from 1 to 3 months.
  • Using unauthorized vehicles on motorways and dual carriageways, e.g. mopeds, bicycles, tractors, animals.
  • Carrying more than 50% of the permitted number of passengers, not counting the driver. This will not be applied to buses.
  • Driving vehicles without the necessary licence.
  • Throwing out of the car cigarettes or objects which might cause fires or accidents.
  • Driving in a careless manner.
  • Disregard of priority, going through red traffic lights or stop signs.
  • Disregard of general overtaking rules, putting at risk drivers who are coming on the other lane and overtaking at spots or under conditions with reduced view.
  • Overtaking and putting at risk motorcyclists.
  • Driving backwards on highways and motorways.
  • Disobeying a police officer.
  • Speeding up or making dangerous manœuvres which impede overtaking or cause risks for overtaking cars.


  • Speeding at more than 50% of the allowed maximum speed, when it is at least more than 30 km/h over the allowed maximum speed.
  • Alcohol: over 0.50 mg/l in the breathalyser test.
    (For Professional drivers and beginners: over 0.30 mg/l.)
    Your driving licence will be confiscated from 1 to 3 months.
  • Driving under influence of drugs or other substances with similar effect.
  • Refusal to undergo a breathalyser test for alcohol, drugs or other substances with similar effect.
  • Driving in a reckless manner, in the wrong direction or driving cars in unauthorized competitions or races.
  • Professional drivers: exceeding in time 50% of the allowed driving hours or taking less than 50% of the obligatory rest hours.

Losing all your points means you will lose your driving licence.


Partial recovery: A 12 hour re-education course to recover 4 points can be taken every two years. Professional drivers can take it every year. The cost is around €170.

If you lose your driving licence, then after six months you can obtain a new driving licence by taking a 24 hour re-education course and passing a test at the Traffic Department.

The price for this test is €320. If you pass, you will be given a new licence, but with only 8 points. If during the next two years you do not lose any more points, your original entitlement of 12 points will be re-instated.

Points will be deducted when any fine is confirmed and if there is no appeal, this will generally be one month after the notification of the fine. If you appeal and it is found against you, points will be deducted when you receive the resolution notification.

The new system also gives the traffic authorities the power to immediately withdraw a licence if an offence is considered extremely serious, such as driving under the effects of alcohol, drugs or driving over 50 % of the speed limit.

Anyone wanting to know how many points they have, or have lost, can visit Just type your NIE number and details of your driving licence and voila!

European Foreign Residents are no longer obliged to have a Spanish driving licence as they can drive with a driving licence from their country of origin or with a European licence.

If you keep your foreign driving licence, being stopped and fined by the Guardia Civil will result in automatic registration on the list of foreign drivers and will have points deducted accordingly. Each time you commit an offence, points will be deducted accordingly.

If this reaches the 12 points, you will be considered to be driving illegally (in Spain only) and if you are stopped by the Guardia Civil or Local Police you will be arrested. If you do not have an NIE number, you will be considered as a Non-Resident and will have to pay the fine on the spot or your car will be confiscated until the fine is paid.

You will not be registered on the list of foreign drivers and points will not be deducted. For foreigners with a Spanish driving licence, points will be deducted just the same as for any Spanish citizen.


  • Manual mobile phones are not permitted, only hand-free phones are acceptable whilst driving. You cannot stop on the side of a road or motorway to speak on a mobile phone except in case of an emergency.
  • Cars that do not have seatbelts fitted in the rear seat are not obliged to have them installed.
  • Passengers not wearing a seatbelt will be responsible for paying their own fine.
  • Motorbikes and mopeds will lose points the same as cars.
  • Children under 3 years old must have a specially adapted seat. Anyone over 3 and under 150cm must have a fastening device. Both systems must comply with safety standards.
  • It is the parent’s obligation to always ensure that their children have the required safety device to ride in any car, although it is the driver who will be fined if the child is not adequately secured.
  • Foreigners may not drive a foreign registered car if they live in Spain for more than 6 months or have a business here.

Foreigners who have a Residence Card will have more advantages than Non-Residents. When stopped by the Guardia Civil, Residents will have 30 days to pay the fine. Non-Residents will have to pay the fine on the spot or the car will be seized until the fine is paid. Cheques or credit cards will not be accepted, only cash, and the Guardia Civil has no obligation to have change!

If you lend your car to a friend, you should give him/her a written authorization and a copy of your passport.


There is a 30% deduction if the fine is paid within 30 days. If you have been fined in any town, payment is made at the Town Hall or at the Local Police station of that town. If you have been fined on the motorway or out of a town, payments are to be made at the relevant provincial Traffic Department in Málaga or by sending a postal order to the Traffic Department of the province where you have been fined, stating the reference number (número de expediente) which appears on the fine.


All vehicles in Spain must periodically undergo a technical inspection.

Up to five years old – exempt
Over five years – every two years

Private Vehicles
Up to four years old – exempt
Four to ten years – every two years
Over ten years – every year

Up to six years – exempt
Over six years – every two years

IMPORTANT. Scooters and mopeds – motorised two-wheeled transport in other words – are now required to have obligatory periodic tests, ITV equivalent. The first test is after three years and then every two years after that.

Testing times are 10:30-14:00 and 16:00-18:30 and the testing schedule is as follows:

Vehicles in service and registered (matriculation) prior to 2002
Matriculation number ending in 0 and 1 – November 28/29/30th 2007
Matriculation number ending in 2 and 3 – December 2007 and January 2008
Matriculation number ending in 4 and 5 – February 2008 and March 2008
Matriculation number ending in 6 and 7 – April 2008 and May 2008
Matriculation number ending in 8 and 9 – June 2008 and July 2008
Vehicles in service and registered (matriculation) between 1/1/02 and 31/7/05 inclusive
Matriculation number ending in 0 and 1 – August 2008 and September 2008
Matriculation number ending in 2 and 3 – October 2008 and November 2008
Matriculation number ending in 4 and 5 – December 2008 and January 2009
Matriculation number ending in 6 and 7 – February 2009 and March 2009
Matriculation number ending in 8 and 9 – April 2009 and May 2009
Vehicles in service and registered (matriculation) between 1/8/08 and 31/5/06 inclusive
Matriculation number ending in 1, 2, 3 and 4 – June and July 2009
Matriculation number ending in 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 – August and September 2009.

A mobile ITV centre for two-wheelers is being set up at the Sunday market site near avenida de la Constitución. Anyone requiring more info can call: 902 57 57 57.


Bringing a car into Spain from a non-European Union country can be one, long hassle and it is advisable to hire the services of a ‘gestor’ to deal with all the paperwork involved.

Any EU or Non EU citizen taking up residence in Spain will be exempt from Import Duties, IVA (16%) and Car Registration Tax (12% or 7%). To benefit from this concession, you must have owned the car for at least six months, and you will need to obtain a certificate of ‘baja de residence’ – either from your old town hall if or from your countries’ consulate in Spain.

The procedure must be started not later than one month after your residence permit is granted. The services of a Gestor are definitely advisable as the procedure is very complicated, and expect the cost to be between 500 and 1000 euros.

Speed limits

  • 120 km/h on motorways.
  • 100 km/h on dual carriageways.
  • 90 km/h on single carriageway roads.
  • 50 km/h in towns.

Don’t forget!

  • Give way to the right.
  • Priority is to those already on a roundabout.
  • ‘Cambio de Sentido’ indicates an opportunity to turn round.


Every year you must pay a municipally imposed vehicle tax – impuesto municipal sobre vehiculos de traccion mecanica – at your local town Hall.

You should receive a postal notification but it is best to stop by your town hall in order to find out when the tax is due. Late payment will incur a fine of 5% in the first month and 20% thereafter.

There is no tax disc to display as in many other countries. Make sure when you sell or scrap a car that the transfer papers have been done correctly or the tax will continue to accrue for years to come.

The tax is based on the cylinder capacity of the vehicle.

External link: You can find all sorts of useful information and advice about driving abroad at

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