Spain - AA Travel Hub
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Spain is a sovereign state located on the Iberian Peninsula in southwestern Europe.


Its mainland is bordered to the south and east by the Mediterranean Sea except for a small land boundary with Gibraltar; to the north and northeast by France, Andorra, and the Bay of Biscay; and to the west and northwest by Portugal and the Atlantic Ocean. Along with France and Morocco, it is one of only three countries to have both Atlantic and Mediterranean coastlines. Spain’s 1,214 km (754 mi) border with Portugal is the longest uninterrupted border within the European Union.

Via Wikipedia

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Speed Limits

Standard legal limits, which may be varied by signs, for private vehicles without trailers.


In built-up areas: 31 mph (50 km/h), outside built-up areas 55 mph (90 km/h) on 2nd category roads, 62 mph (100 km/h) on 1st category roads and 74 mph (120 km/h) on motorways. On motorways and dual carriage ways in built up areas 49 mph (80km/h). Minimum speed on motorways and dual carriageways: 37 mph (60 km/h).


Some residential zones and the vicinity of schools is 13 mph (20kph). Lower speed limits apply to motor homes up to 3.5t; Motorways and dual carriageways 100km/h, 1st category and 2nd category road 49 and 45mph (90 and 80 km/h) respectively.


Licence / Insurance

Licence: Minimum age at which an Irish licence holder may drive a temporarily imported car 18. Motorcycles up to 125cc 16years, over125cc 18 years. All valid Irish driving licences should be accepted in Spain.


Alternatively, older licences may be accompanied by an International Driving Permit (IDP).


Motor Insurance: Third-party compulsory.


Unleaded petrol (95 & 98 octane) available. No leaded petrol. Petrol in a can permitted. Diesel (Gasoleo ‘A’ or Gas-oil) available
Note: Gasoleo ‘B’ is heating oil only.
LPG is available under the name of “Autogas”, but there are only a few sales outlets at present. For locations please see map on website at or


Credit cards accepted at most filling stations; check with your card issuer for usage in Spain before travel.


The EU standard for tyre tread depth is 1.6mm. The use of spiked tyres is prohibited

Road Car Car Towing Caravan/Trailer Additional Information
A12 4.90 4.90 Leon – Astorga
A15 2.15 2.15 Pamplona – Irurtzun
A15/AP-68 9.15 9.15 Pamplona (Irunea) – Tudela
A19 4.76 4.76 Barcelona – Blanes
A3 4.15 4.15 Madrid – Casa de la Moraleja
A4 5.50 5.50 Madrid – Ocana
A55 2.45 2.45 La Coruna – Carballo
A57 1.65 1.65 Vigo – Baiona
A6 12.15 12.15 Madrid – Valladolid
A8 12.56 12.56 Bilbao (Bilbo) – Irun (French border)
AP-1 11.40 11.40 Burgos – A68 (near Miranda de Ebro)
AP-2 19.65 19.65 Zaragoza – Tarragona
AP-36 15.30 15.30 Ocana – La Roda
AP-4 7.15 7.15 Cadiz – Dos Hermanas (Sevilla)
AP-41 8.70 8.70 Madrid – Toledo
AP-51 9.20 9.20 Madrid – Avila
AP-53 5.80 5.80 Santiago de Compostela – Ourense
AP-6 8.15 8.15 Villalba – Adanero
AP-61 8.15 8.15 Madrid – Segovia
AP-66 6.85 6.85 Leon – Oviado
AP-68 7.75 7.75 Miranda de Ebro – Bilbao (Bilbo)
AP-68 21.25 21.25 Zaragoza – Miranda de Ebro
AP-7 1.61 1.61 La Jonquera (French border) – Barcelona
AP-7 7.10 7.10 Alicante (Alacant) – Cartagena
AP-7 9.55 9.55 Malaga – Gibraltar
AP-7 12.50 12.50 Vera – Cartagena
AP-7 13.75 13.75 Barcelona – Tarragona
AP-7 16.95 16.85 Valencia – Alicante (Alacant)
AP-7 27.10 27.10 Tarragona – Valencia
AP-9 4.35 4.35 Ferrol – La Coruna
AP-9 6.30 6.30 La Coruna – Santiago de Compostela
AP-9 8.85 8.85 Santiago de Compostela – Vigo
C16 13.28 13.28 Barcelona – Puigcerda (Tunel del Cadí)
C32 13.76 13.76 Barcelona – Tarragona
M12 1.00 1.00 Madrid (Barajas) Airport – Alcobendas (E5/A1)
R2 4.15 4.15 Madrid – Guadalajara
R3 2.80 2.80 Madrid – Arganda del Rey
R5 4.15 4.15 Madrid – Navadcarnero
Other Requirements

Seat belts: Compulsory for front / rear seat occupants to wear seat belts, if fitted.
Passengers/Children in cars: Children up to the age of 12, measuring less than 135 cm must be seated in a child restraint system adapted to their size and weight, except when travelling in a taxi in an urban area. They can not be seated in the front seat of a vehicle unless the rear seats are already occupied with minors, or the vehicle doesn’t have rear seats e.g. a van. Children measuring more than 135 cm may use an adult seatbelt.
Lights: The use of full headlights in built-up areas is prohibited; use sidelights or dipped headlights depending on how well lit the roads are. Dipped headlights must be used in tunnels.


Drinking and driving: If the level of alcohol in the bloodstream is 0.05 per cent or more, severe penalties include fines and withdrawal of visitor’s driving licence. This limit includes cyclists. Drivers with less than 2 years experience, 0.03%. Severe penalties include imprisonment for non compliance. A person can also be tested for narcotics.



Fines: On-the-spot. An official receipt should be obtained. Fines are reduced by 50% if paid within 20 days. Visiting motorists failing to pay on the spot may have their vehicle confiscated. Illegally parked vehicles can be towed away. Wheel clamps are also in use.


It is recommended that a driver who wears glasses should carry a spare pair with them if this is noted on your driving licence.
Apparatus with a screen which can distract a driver (such as television, video, DVD equipment) should be positioned in places where the driver is unable to see them. This excludes GPS systems. It is prohibited to touch or program the device unless parked in a safe place.
The use of radar detectors is prohibited, severe penalty for non compliance.
In urban areas it is prohibited to sound the horn at any time, except in an emergency. Lights may be flashed in place of using the horn.


A load may exceed the length of a private vehicle at the rear by up to 10% of its length. The load must be indicated by a panel with diagonal red and white stripes. If you wish to carry bicycles on the rear of your vehicle, you will need a 50 x 50 cm reflectorised panel, which can be brought from most caravan/motor home accessory shops or from – they are available in plastic or aluminium.
Children under 16 are obliged to wear cycle helmets. A fine will be issued to the parent or guardian for non compliance.
In some cities in one way streets, vehicles must be parked on the side of the road where houses bear uneven numbers on uneven days of the month, and on the side of even numbers on even days.
Only fully hands-free phone systems are permitted. The use of earpieces or headphones while driving is banned. Failure to comply carries a fine of €200.
Motorists should be aware of contrived incidents. Foreign registered vehicles, especially those towing caravans, and hire cars are often targeted in service areas or tricked in to stopping on the hard shoulder by the occupant of a passing vehicle. They will gesture that something is wrong with the vehicle. Lock all doors and keep bags out of sight. The number of thefts by bogus policemen has increased in Madrid and Catalonia.

Travel Advice

Entry Requirements



You need a passport to enter Spain. While there is no minimum passport validity requirement, your passport must be valid for the planned period of your stay.

If your child is currently endorsed on your passport, we advise you to apply for a separate passport for your child.


If travelling between Gibraltar and Spain


Vehicles (both cars and motorcycles) may experience significant delays when entering Spain from Gibraltar and sometimes vice versa.  Take water and extra food with you during the hot summer months and wear warm clothing in winter.  It is possible to park cars in La Línea in Spain and walk across the border, and this can help to avoid the worst of the queues. While parking in La Línea immediately next to the border incurs charges, check for free parking throughout the town and next to the stadium (this is an extra kilometre of walking). This also has the advantage of avoiding Gibraltar’s complex one way system, very narrow streets, and limited parking.

For the latest information on the waiting time for the queue to leave Gibraltar, you can call +(350) 200 42777.

Advanced passenger information


Since 2007, transport carriers (airlines, ferries, etc) are required to provide details of passengers entering Spain. This means that carriers transporting passengers to Spain from Ireland should provide the following details of each passenger:

  • Name
  • Date of birth
  • Nationality
  • Number and type of travel document (passport or National Identity Card)

These details are usually taken automatically by the carrier at the time of booking, or at the time of check-in.

Staying for longer than three months


All EU citizens who want to stay in Spain for more than three months have to register in person at the Oficina de Extranjeros (Foreigners Office), which is normally part of the town hall (Ayuntamiento), or at designated police stations.

You will be issued a Certificate of registration with your name, address, nationality, identity number (NIE) and date of registration. The certificate serves as confirmation that you have registered, but is not recognised by the local authorities as a valid form of identification and you are not obliged to keep the certificate with you.

Local Laws & Customs

Practical advice

  • Read the Department of Foreign Affairs travel advice, inform yourself before travelling and get advice locally when you arrive
  • Remember, the local laws apply to you as a visitor and it is your responsibility to follow them
  • Be sensitive to local customs, traditions and practices as your behaviour may be seen as improper, hostile or even illegal


Alcoholic spirits are usually sold in significantly larger measures in bars and restaurants in Spain than in Ireland. Consumption of alcohol in public places, except licensed bars and restaurants, is forbidden in Madrid, the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands. Failure to respect these laws may result in a fine.

Illegal drugs

There have been fatalities involving Irish citizens who have consumed illegal drugs in Spain. The Spanish authorities take the possession of illegal drugs in any quantity extremely seriously and such activity may result in imprisonment. The authorities in Mallorca and Ibiza are particularly active in anti-drug law enforcement, and are likely to prosecute in cases of use or possession of drugs.


Everyone in Spain, regardless of nationality, must show ID when using credit and debit cards. You may be able to use a driving licence or a photocopy of your passport, but you may be asked to show your original passport.

Getting married in Spain

According to the Central Civil Registry Office in Madrid, in order for two Irish citizens to get married in Spain, one of you should be legally resident in Spain for approximately the previous two years. Naturally, this is not the case if an Irish citizen is to marry a Spanish citizen.

An application to get married in Spain usually involves a lot of bureaucracy and can be time consuming so you should allow enough time before the intended date of the marriage for the paperwork to be completed.

First, you must certify that you meet the legal requirements, using a file processed in accordance with the Civil Register legislation. Formalities may vary in different registries so check which documents you need by contacting the Civil Registry Office in the area where you are intending to marry. You can find a list of Civil Registry Offices by region on the Spanish Ministry for Justice’s website.

Please also be aware that the requirements for religious marriages vary according to the denomination and area in which an applicant lives and you should check the requirements well in advance with the relevant authority.

Buying property in Spain

If you intend to buy property in Spain, the Department of Foreign Affairs strongly advise you to consult an independent, legal advisor with expertise in property law from the beginning of the process. Get lists of English-speaking lawyers in the different regions of Spain

Be aware that in parts of Spain, particularly Valencia, there are laws entitling the local authorities to appropriate rural property for development and to charge property owners for part of the cost of that development.

Potential and existing property owners should ensure that their legal title to the property is completely in order, as their rights relating to, for example, notification of development plans, depend on the property being correctly registered. Property buyers should not, at any point in the transaction, carry around large sums of cash.

European Health Insurance Card

The Department of Foreign Affairs advise you to get aEUROPEAN HEALTH INSURANCE CARD (EHIC) before you travel to Spain. This card replaces the E111 form and entitles you to emergency medical treatment on the same terms as Spanish nationals.

The EHIC is not a substitute for travel insurance and doesn’t cover medical repatriation, ongoing medical treatment or treatment of a non-urgent nature. You canAPPLY for an EHIC online at

Emergency Assistance

The best help is often close at hand so if you have problems, try talking to your local contacts, tour operator representativeOR HOTEL management. You can also contact the Spanish Emergency Services by calling 112. The operators speak English.

Contact the Embassy

If there is an emergency, or if you need help and advice, you can contact the Irish Embassy in Madrid on: +34 914364093. If you phone outside of normalWORKING hours, you will be asked to leave a message on the answering machine. The Department of Foreign Affairs regularly monitor these messages and one of our staff members will be in contact with you.

Please ensure the message contains the following information:

  • Your name
  • The nature of your problem
  • Where you are now
  • Your contact details (mobile phone number or phone number of where you’re staying)

Please bear in mind that this duty service is operated from the Embassy in Madrid (not the Honorary Consuls in other locations in Spain) and out of hours is for emergency use only.

How they can help you

Irish Embassies have a lot of experience helping Irish citizens who run into problems when they’re abroad. Learn more about the kind of emergency assistance they can offer you.


If you’re planning a trip to Spain, we advise you to take normal precautions.

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