Spain Explained

The new driving laws in Spain you should be aware of

Last updated on March 31st, 2020 at 10:31 am.

It can be difficult to know what you should and shouldn’t be doing when it comes to driving in Spain. New laws are adding further to the confusion. Ley 6/2014 modificando la Ley sobre Tráfico, Circulación de Vehículos a Motor y Seguridad Vial 339/ 1990  came into effect on 9th May. It introduces some important changes to Spanish motoring law that you should be aware of. Some aspects will not fully come into force until the current Spanish highway code has been revised in June 2014.

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Faster or slower? There’s a mixed bunch of changes when it comes to speed limits.They include:

  • An increase in the speed limit from 120 kph to 130 kph on some parts of the motorway
  • A maximum speed limit on regular roads of 90 kph
  • A reduction of the speed limit in many towns on some stretches of road from 30 kph to 20 kph
  • A prohibition on radar detectors in cars but not on warning devices

Driving or walking under the influence

You should remember that the legal limit for alcohol is lower than in some other European countries. It is 0.5mg per litre of exhaled air or 0.3mg for professional drivers and those who have only recently passed their test.

  • A minimum fine of 1,000€ if:
    • You are more than double the drink drive limit
    • You are a reoffending drink driver
    • You refuse to take a breathalyser test
    • You are driving whilst under the influence of drugs
  • Pedestrians can be obliged to take a drug and alcohol test if they break a traffic regulation such as crossing the road in the wrong place

The rules around drugs do not apply to those prescribed for therapeutic purposes.

Increased powers of the Guardia Civil

The Guardia Civil will not have to hand over your fine personally. If they are not in a position to pursue you, they need only observe a motoring offence and note your registration number to impose a fine.

Children in cars

The restrictions around seating children in cars have increased. Children are not allowed to travel in the front if they are less than 1.35m, unless the seats in the back of the car are occupied by other children. This will apply to taxis too, when the fine will be payable by the child’s parents. The police can also seize any vehicle where children are not seated with the legally compliant child seat and heavier fines can be applied where the incorrect safety seats are in use.

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Other regulations

  • There are to be stricter rules for cars which are foreign registered and driven by residents
  • You can be fined for dropping items onto the road
  • There will be fewer restrictions for those with cancer who still wish to drive
  • Cyclists under the age of 16 must wear helmets in urban areas. There can be a fine of up to 200€ for breaking this law.
  • To receive a 50% discount on your motoring fine you have to pay within 20 days instead of the previous 15

As you can see from the wording we have used, some of these rules are yet unclear in their scope and breadth of implementation. We will try to keep you updated as more details emerge.

More information

20 new rules to remember for Spanish road users‘ – article in English version of El País

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Terry price

29 May, 2014 7:35 pm

Most of the planned changes
Most of the planned changes make sense however there is one point the GC seem to interpret in different ways depending on how they feel. As a non resident under EU regulations I can take my UK registered car over to Spain for a period not exceeding 6 months in any period of 12 months . The GC in the area of my holiday home , Arboleas, Almeria are of the opinion that if I have an NIE which I need to purchase a house and pay my taxes, the I am a resident and there fore not allowed to drive a uk registered car. They do not seem to accept the fact that return travel documents are available although this is no required and sometimes I do not know my return dates or duration of my stay. I now have a Spanish registered car for my stays in Spain but would like clarification from GC of their rules .


29 May, 2014 7:53 pm


Janice Gray

29 May, 2014 8:05 pm

I was told by John Paul
I was told by John Paul (Graham Knight´s successor) that the tougher laws on foreign registered cars has not been ratified or something.

I do hope the Guardia start pulling in all the illegal British cars, some of which have anything from 1 year old up to 3 year year old tax discs or none at all. All I get from the drivers is ¨I´m insured¨, I´d like to know what happens if they have an accident with us legal drivers, I´m sure the insurance would be invalid.


24 June, 2014 2:40 pm

Dear Janice, I think this

Dear Janice, I think this section of the law has yet to be clarified in the more detailed 'Highway code' . 

Jill Smith

30 May, 2014 7:32 pm

Horrified at the comment
Horrified at the comment about cancer patients & possible driving restrictions.

I was diagnosed with kidney cancer in Feb & had major surgery to remove my left kidney, urethra & part of my bladder in March. I was told by my Consultant 4 weeks later all was well & we could get back to Spain whenever we liked.

We have just returned to the UK from our holiday home having driven in Spain for the past fortnight. We are back out at the end of June. I’d like further explanations as to restrictions on cancer patients. My husband is unable to drive as he has Parkinson’s.

Derek Taylor

2 June, 2014 7:24 am

Where will I be able to find
Where will I be able to find or purchase a copy of the new Spanish high way code after this month.

Robert Owen

9 June, 2014 10:37 am

Another money grab.
Another money grab.


10 June, 2014 3:19 pm

Thanks to everyone for your

Thanks to everyone for your comments and questions. It is clear as so many of you have responded, that the driving laws in Spain do cause confusion. The new law seems to be adding to this, particularly in relation to foreign registered cars. As we understand it, not all aspects of the law are decided on and the new code will fill in more of the detail (we hope!). In the meantime if anyone can shine a light on any of these queries we would love to hear from them. 

I do know that the police on Orihuela Costa are clamping down on cyclists wearing helmets. My son was recently fined 80€ for not wearing his. 


24 June, 2014 2:53 pm

We have now published another

We have now published another article with a little more detail about the different sections of the law. This might help, although as you can see there are still many gaps to be filled in:  


19 July, 2015 4:18 pm

If a person have lisence of a
If a person have lisence of a B category for a car then will he able to ride a motorcycle of any category?

Suzanne O'Connell

18 August, 2015 7:56 pm



With a category B (car) licence a bike up to 125 cc can be ridden in Spain

Freddie Boxall

5 November, 2015 2:14 pm

Is towing a car on an A frame
Is towing a car on an A frame on the back of a Motorhome legal?

Suzanne O'Connell

12 November, 2015 12:09 pm

Hi Freddie, I can’t answer

Hi Freddie, I can't answer this question for you. However, I would recommend the facebook page for the Guardia Civil N332. You can try posting this on there and hopefully they will answer. It might be that one of our readers knows the answer too. 

pauline herridge

2 August, 2016 6:21 am

What do I have to do to
What do I have to do to change my US driving license to a Spanish one.

Suzanne O'Connell

4 August, 2016 8:18 am

Dear Pauline

Dear Pauline

A licence can only be exchanged where Spain has a reciprocal agreement with the country where the licence is presently issued as happens with EU licences and many South American countries (because of historical connections). There does not currently appear to be such an agreement with the USA so I understand that the driver has to start from scratch in Spain. However, it would be worth you double checking with the USA Consulate. 

(Information received from Graham Shelton