What is an International Driving Permit or License?
What is the difference between an International Driving Permit (IDP) and an International Driving License (IDL)?
An International Driving Permit is a small grey booklet marginally larger than a passport containing a translation of your original driving license in 10 languages, including English, French, Russian, Chinese, Arabic, and Spanish. It is accepted by 141 countries worldwide and is valid for one year.
On the other hand, an International Driving License is not legally accepted and cannot be used to drive in foreign countries.
How does an IDP work in Spain?
Spain has strict laws when it comes to international drivers. You can only drive on Spanish roads if you have a valid driving license from your home country. It would also help if you also had an International Driver’s Permit. You may also use your IDP as an identification document while traveling. If your driver’s license is in a foreign language, an IDP can be used as an official translation of your license.
How do you apply for an IDP in Spain?
You can order your IDP through our website.
How long will it take to receive an IDP in Spain?
With our Express order, you can receive a digital IDP in as little as 20 minutes. Alternatively, your digital IDP will take up to 2 hours to land in your email inbox.
You can also receive a printed IDP delivered to your doorstep. The estimated delivery date will be between 2-30 days, depending on your selected delivery method.
United Nations Agreements on Road Traffic
There have been three international automobile traffic conventions. 1926 in Paris, 1949 in Geneva, and 1968 in Vienna. Most countries have agreed to recognize IDPs as legal documents in each convention.
Benefits of Carrying an IDP in Spain
Functionality as an ID
An IDP is a helpful travel document because it also serves as an identity document. This is handy if you wish to keep your passport secure for security reasons. An IDP can be used in place of a national ID card, mainly if your national ID card is in a language that is not widely used globally.
Quicker traffic authority stops
Having an IDP ensures that policemen can quickly note down your details and send you on your way. This is especially useful during emergencies and motor accidents.
Car rental companies
Companies in many nations may be hesitant to hire vehicles to foreigners who do not have an International Driving Permit. An IDP is an internationally recognized document; therefore, most rental car companies will accept it as valid.
Laws requiring an IDP
You must have an IDP and a valid foreign driver’s license to drive in Spain. Since Spain was contracted to the Vienna Motor Traffic Convention in 1968, it accepts an International Driving Permit for one year, subject to your original license being valid.
Driving Requirements for Non-Citizens in Spain
Short-term visitors vs. residents
Short-term visitors will find using their original license with an IDP ideal. Getting a Spanish driving license may be helpful for individuals staying for long periods.
When should I get a Spanish Driver’s License?
You may want to get a Spanish driving license when you decide to move to Spain mid to long-term. The hassle during routine traffic stops and the extra bureaucracy when renewing your original license might not be worth hanging onto your country’s driving license.
How to get a Spanish driver’s license
Spain has reciprocal agreements with over 20 countries for exchanging driving licenses. However, these agreements are liable to change at any time, and you should check with the Spanish authorities to be updated.
In the case you are from Andorra, Japan, Korea, or Switzerland, you will need the following to get a Spanish driving license: a national ID or passport, a residence permit and card, an authorized medical fitness report, two recent photographs, an affidavit stating you haven’t been suspended from driving, and an affidavit stating you don’t have another EU license from the same class of the permit (Japan & Korea). You also need to have a valid driver’s license.
Citizens of Algeria, Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Dominical Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Macedonia, Morocco, Nicaragua, Peru, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Serbia, Turkey, Tunisia, Ukraine, Uruguay, and Venezuela need all of the above with minor alterations in some requirements.
All other citizens (including those of the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand) need to take a full Spanish driving test. This will include a practical test and a theory test. You are also required to take a driving course. Some parts of Spain allow you to use a translator to take the test in English.
Renewing Your IDP or Original Driver’s License While in Spain
Renewing Your International Driver’s Permit
You can renew your IDP through our website while in Spain.
Renewing Your Original Driver’s License
Since an IDP is not a stand-alone document, you must have a valid driving license to display if asked to do so. This means you must renew your license to continue driving in that nation if your license expires while you are overseas. The process for a license varies from country to country, and most governments provide an online license renewal service.
Car Rental in Spain
Requirements for car rental
You need a valid driver’s license from your country with an IDP to be eligible to rent a car in Spain.
If you are under 25, you will need to pay a young driver’s surcharge of around €20 per day (capped for seven days) if you wish to rent a car in Spain. Most rental agencies will require you to provide a credit or debit card, and only a rare company will rent you a vehicle for cash.
Deposit and costs for car rental
All clients of car rental companies are expected to pay a rental deposit. This is based on the cost of the car you want to rent. You can be expected to pay £250 to £1,000 for the deposit. Car rentals are pretty low and come as cheap as £4.00. However, you can expect to pay around £150 for a week. Some companies might be willing to rent their cars on a debit card or cash basis. Most companies will require the main driver to pay using a credit card in their name.
You must have insured your car to drive in Spain, and you can be fined up to £3,000 if found driving without it. This is irrespective of whether your stay is short or long-term. The minimum requirement is third-party insurance covering costs arising from an accident. Your insurance contract should cover other persons, vehicles, animals, or property damage. Third-party insurance contracts do not cover any damage to yourself or your vehicle.
Although the crime rate in Spain is among the lowest in the world, it is still prudent to have travel insurance in addition to auto insurance when there. The following are some things to keep in mind while purchasing travel insurance:
Coverage for medical expenses
Dental insurance for emergencies
Insurance to cover lost or stolen property
Rental car excess in an accident
Funeral costs in case of an extreme situation
Driving and Safety in Spain
Where can you get a driving handbook with the road rules?
You can get an online version of Spanish driving rules from various Spanish driving school websites. However, you can browse different chapters of the driving handbook without paying. You can do this before embarking on your journey to Spain as fines are pricey compared to other EU countries.
Overtaking on Spanish roads
You are advised to only overtake from the left-hand side as long as there have been no signs signifying otherwise. You must check your mirrors, judge the speed correctly and make sure that the lane ahead is sufficiently clear for you to enter back into its traffic. You cannot cut in on the vehicle that you are overtaking. Overtaking during nighttime or with poor visibility should be undertaken with extra vigilance.
Turning and right of way on Spanish roads
The first vehicle to reach an intersection on two equally sized roads has the right of way. You must yield to vehicles approaching from the right if you approach the intersection simultaneously. Vehicles entering a roundabout need to yield to vehicles on their left. Vehicles already in the roundabout traffic have the right of way.
Speed limits on Spanish roads
There are severe fines for exceeding the speed limit in Spain. If you exceed a speed of 110 km/h, the penalty will be around €600. However, you can go faster in Spain than in most European countries except Germany. The speed limit is 90 km/h on single carriage roads, 100 km/h on roads with more than one lane in each direction, and dual carriageways. You are allowed to go at 120 km/h on highways.
Tips for driving in Spain
Some rules to abide by and the fines for their infringement are given below:
Using just one hand while driving or waving a hand outside the car can result in a €100 fine.
Driving with inappropriate attire, such as no shirt or no footwear, can result in a €200 fine.
Parking in an environmentally protected area can lead to a fine of over €6,000.
Having any objects or devices in your dominant hand while stopped at a red traffic light may lead to a €200 fine and two license demerits.
Loud music is strictly prohibited and can lead to penalties over €80. If it is in a residential area, the penalty can be up to €2,400.
Using a horn apart from an emergency can lead to a fine of €80.00.
Driving slowly on the right lane (fast lane) while other lanes are free can lead to a €200.00 fine.
Arguments and distracting hand gestures with other motorists can lead to an €80.00 fine.
Drinking and driving
You are only allowed to have 0.5 mg of alcohol for every 1.0 ml of blood. If you are caught driving while inebriated more than once or have an alcohol level exceeding the legal limit, the minimum fine is €1,000. Like other EU countries, the Spanish driving license system starts with 12 points, deducting points for not following road rules. When your license doesn’t have any points left, your license is taken away from you.
Top 3 Destinations to Visit in Spain
Barcelona is one of Europe’s most visited cities due to its unique ambiance. It is situated on the Mediterranean sea with beautiful beaches for swimming, sunbathing and water sports. Barcelona’s city is populated with Gaudian Architecture that will entice vacationers to keep strolling through its beautiful street. Visitors should take the time to climb Mount Tibidabo, giving you a one-of-a-kind view of the Mediterranean sea. This city is best enjoyed on sunny days as many outdoor activities cannot be done during overcast or rainy periods due to its uneven terrain.
Madrid is Spain’s capital and can be pretty majestic to the eye. It is also a hub for trade and commerce. This city is a cultural nucleus for much of the world’s Spanish-speaking community. Much of the city is covered in beautiful frescos and other expressions of Spanish aesthetics. The city has restaurants, theatres, and mingling points for nightlife. When visiting Madrid, you shouldn’t forget to check out the historical Sabatini Gardens. It is a testament to hundreds of years of cultural development.
This scenic location is famous for its captivating landscapes and volcanic peaks. The site has been a center for geological research. One of the location’s cultural highlights is the Santa Cruz de Tenerife Carnival. Tourists travel to enjoy the second biggest carnival in the world after Rio. You should also check out Mount Teide National park, which has been determined a World Heritage Site. You can travel by car to this island paradise. It is an ideal getaway for the spring and fall seasons when the weather is just right.
Am I required to have an International Driving Permit in Spain?
Having an IDP to drive in Spain is highly recommended as many countries require you to have a valid driving license and an IDP.
How long will my International Driving Permit be valid in Spain?
Since Spain was contracted to the Vienna Motor Traffic Convention in 1968, you may use your IDP for one year.
How long will transferring my license to a Spanish license take?
Spain is highly efficient so you can get a Spanish license within two days.
On which side do you drive in Spain?
All vehicles must drive on the right side of the road in Spain.