Important Information regarding the rules for Medicals in Spain for drivers
Remember if you’re UK registered car is not legal in its country of origin it is not here either. So even if your car is insured, your insurance, (even if you do have it) will be invalid if you do not have a valid MOT and Tax disc with it.
Add to this, that if you do not have a current medical certificate to go with your European driving license and you live here permanently, then you are not 100% legal and you may well not be covered even if you are insured and think you are please read on as not many people either know or comply with this ruling...
You need a medical every 10 years up to age 45, from then every 5 years up to age 70, then every two years after age 70 (from age 70 see below) Keep the medical certificate as a receipt and ignore that it says (in Spanish, of course) it is valid for only three months. That is because for those with Spanish licenses the photo on the new medical certificate is used by Trafico to issue a new Driving license.
As foreign EU licenses e.g. UK ones expire at age 70, unlike the Spanish ones which expire at the medical due dates, you just keep it as a receipt that you have had the medical.
The EU is expected to adopt the Spanish system soon which includes the UK and it will mean a fairly current photo of the DL holder on the license as well. Starting in 2010, the DLs will be uniform throughout the EU and it is expected that by 2032, all will have the same.
There seems to be much confusion as to whether the holder of a British driving licence is required to obtain a Spanish driving licence when he or she becomes resident in Spain. However in short your EU licence is valid but, only following the laws in Spain which is to have the current medicals needed to comply with Spanish law and you can if you wish, but you do not have to register your license with traffico.
The General Drivers Act (RD 772/1997, May 30th) has been modified due to a sentence from the EU Justice Court (9-09-2004 Issue C-195/02). The pertinent sentence in Article 22 previously stated that residents in Spain from the EU countries had 6 months after obtaining residency to change their driving licence to a Spanish one.
The article was modified on January 27th, 2006 and sets out that residents in Spain will have to fulfil the same conditions as the Spanish drivers to renew their driving licences. Driving licences for residents will therefore expire according to the Spanish Law.
If you live here, are a resident, then you have to have a medical every 10 years until the age of 45 from then on to the age of 70 it’s every 5 years and then from 70 onwards it’s every 2 this normally costs around 30 euros it is quite a simple test of general health with an eye test and physical reactions. You will need to take with you at least
and... the fee from 30 euros dependant on the licence you have. If you need photos taken they may do this for a small charge but please do ask when making the appointment.
The certificate lasts 3 months, from the date at the bottom of the certificate but this is irrelevant if you need the certificate to make your licence legal it lasts for the duration dependant upon your age and or licence expiry date.
The EU-wide law is that the foreign EU driving licence (DL) is legal to use in all EU countries even when the new resident lives in another EU State. So the DL holder can keep his or her DL until it expires which for a UK DL is age 70 for normal classifications such as a car, and for vocationals, age 60. Vocational is HGVs, buses, etc. as in the book Motoring in Spain DL Pages by Brian Deller or www.spainvia.com But a new DL can only be issued by the country that the driver is officially resident (one country only for tax and legal reasons) so if a driver has residencia in Spain or has held an NIE for some time as this can be used as a proof of residence, he/she cannot renew the DL in the UK. While it can be done if the DL holder uses an address in the UK, it is illegal and can be dangerous as it could be used by the Inland Revenue to claim that the DL holder has tax liabilities in the UK, etc. A lot of people do not realise this.
But the EU Directive on the matter also states that the foreign EU DL holder must also obey the same laws that affect the DL holders in the residence country. For example, the periodical medicals. If these laws are not obeyed then the foreign issued DL can be legally deemed expired even though the dates of expiry on the actual DL may not have arrived, e.g. at age 70, or 60 for vocationals, etc.
When it has expired, the holder must obtain a new DL in his/her country of residence. TheSpanish DL and it is better than the new residencia certificate actually anyway for ID purposes as it has the photo on it.
Explained- why this is the law
- If you have a current EU driving license (DL), with the "ring of stars" on it (the multilingual one), it is legal anywhere in the EU, for not only visiting but for residence as well. However, in the case of residence, the laws of that country, (i.e. Spain in this instance) that affect all drivers, (i.e. Spanish drivers here),
- This is explained in detail in English in the 3rd edition of the book Motoring in Spain by Brian Dellar, and in Spanish briefly in the copy of the letter sent out in early 2005 to the British Consulate in Malaga (the same was sent to all Consulates) explaining how the Spanish Government lost a Court case in September 2004, and now had to obey the EU Directive on the matter where any EU-DL was legal anywhere in the EU. Prior to this, the Spanish government insisted that all expats. from anywhere within the EU must change their driving licenses for a Spanish one. This is now not so...
· The letter is at www.spainvia.com/drivelicenceletteradsl.htm
· Paragraph 3 clearly states though that the medicals that Spanish drivers must take must also be taken by resident foreign DL holders for the DL not to expire (regardless of any date on the DL) stating the expiry date (German DLs are for life), and even mentions the different periods for ages and types such as vocational as it is known in the UK, HGVs and buses etc, where they are valid for only three years at a time in Spain. It is explained again in the book in detail as are all the laws that affect us expats.
The insurance companies employ lawyers who are supposed to know all the relevant laws in Spain but some lawyers are not always up to date and it would also appear that the insurance brokers who deal with expats should should also buy a copy of Brian´s book, as they do not all warn you of this and so even they are not ignorant of the laws as well. If you have not taken the necessary medical you could be open to your insurance cover not being valid if you have an accident furthermore you may also have your license taken as it is not valid either without a current medical.
The new article 23 of the Drivers General Act also establishes that you can voluntarily register yourself in the Traffic registry at any time before your British licence expires. However this is not now compulsory.
New Points system
All drivers with more than 3 years experience will start with 12 points
Fri, 30 June 2006
With 4,400 people losing their lives on the roads of Spain last year, the Government hopes that the new points driving license, introduced tomorrow (July 1st 06) will change driving habits across the country. Similar schemes in Italy, France and Germany, have seen road deaths fall by as much as 40%.
People will still be fined for traffic offences as before, but most of the offences will now see a deduction in the number of points on your driving license. There is still a 90 € fine category for small offences which sees no change in your points tally. Also if a fine is issued but the driver at the time is not identified, then obviously no points can be taken, although the fine can now reach 1,500 €
Drivers with more than three years experience have 12 points, while new drivers are credited with eight. We can get two extra points after three years with no offences and a further point after that after three more years to reach the maximum number of points – 15.
The points are to be deducted when the fine becomes firm. When you receive the letter with the fine there are three things you can do:
1. Pay up within a month and get a 30% discount and see the points deducted.
2. Launch an appeal within 15 days.
3. Do nothing. If you do nothing the fine is considered firm in a month when your points will be deducted. If you leave the fine unpaid, you'll find the amount due taken automatically from your tax rebate or directly from your bank account.
Drivers can check their current balance on the Traffic Department web site
The points can be considered as being virtual - in as much as - should you renew your driving license, your points balance remains unchanged.
One thing to note is that the data is confidential. We are promised that insurance companies will not have access to those who have lost points, and so will be unable to alter their tariffs accordingly. However, there are already new insurance policies on the market designed to attract those drivers who fear that they may lose points, offering transport costs, or the cost of the course drivers will have to take to recover point numbers.
Points are gained at the rate of two for every three years of clean driving, up to a maximum of 15.
You can voluntarily take a course once every two years. This consists of 12 hours of classes, 170 € cost and 4 points at the end guaranteed. However if you lose your license you are obliged to take another course of 24 hours of classes, 320 € cost and 8 points at the end, provided you pass an exam. These new education centers are now being established and the government has a target that by the start of next year, all residents of the country will be no further than 30 kms away from one.
"The traffic authorities say the new system will hit those repeat offenders more than others and expect 6,000 drivers to lose their license in the first year"
Passengers can lose points too. If you are a passenger in a car and stopped for not wearing your seat belt, then your license will still be deducted the three points, even if the driver is wearing his.
Finally here’s a quick round up of how you can lose points –
- Speeding between two and six points depending on how far above the speed limit you were travelling.
- Using the mobile phone or any other apparatus considered a distraction – three points.
- Not using your seat belt or helmet for bike riders – three points.
- Drink driving – four or six points.
Points can also be lost in the following circumstances –
Two points will be taken for:
- Dangerous parking
- Using radar speed trap detectors
- Forgetting to turn on your headlights
- Taking a child under 12 as a passenger on a motorbike
Three points will be taken for:
- Making an illegal turn
- Driving too close to the vehicle in front
Four points will be taken for:
- Driving without the correct license
- Taking a vehicle onto a motorway that is not authorized
- Reversing on a motorway
- Dangerous driving or overtaking
- Blocking another driver from overtaking
- Jumping a red light
- Disobeying police instructions
- Throwing any dangerous objects from the car – this includes cigarette butts
- Driving with too many people in the vehicle
And finally six points will be taken:
- For extreme dangerous driving, which could be, for example, taking part in racing, driving against the traffic and so on.
Professional drivers risk losing six points if they do not respect official rest periods
You have to be 18 to obtain a driving license in Spain but can take lessons before this date in order to obtain your license on your 18th birthday. To help with learning to drive there is a book written in English but printed and published in Spain - it is by Etrasa and is called learning to drive the ISBN number is 8496105032 and it costs around 30 euros.
Only registered instructors in dual controlled cars are allowed to teach legally and you can see questions for the test in Spanish here
Driving in General
If you know nothing at all about Spain the one thing you will quickly learn is that the normal "laid back" attitude of some Spaniards changes the moment they get behind the wheel of their car. The Spaniard is never more aggressive and competitive than when he is driving. Many are a danger to both themselves and others on the road and it does not bode well for Spain that this is not recognized and dealt with by the authorities, many of whom are also the same!
Loss of life on the roads and horrible injuries are treated by most Spaniards as something cultural and normal. For many Spaniards, owning a car is a method of expression and if you happen to be in front of such a driver be prepared for anything which will enable him to pass you. Discipline, white lines, common sense, and the law are all things which apply only to other drivers. Sounds scary this is the extreme but you need to be aware of this. Having said this, the same applies to many drivers back in the UK and in fairness, Spanish driving skills have improved considerably over the past few years and today, most are reasonably confident about which side of the road they should drive on. Despite these advances, you would be wise to treat everyone on a Spanish road, including your expatriate colleagues, with caution as you should anywhere and be prepared for anything.
The law on roundabouts is very simple. You give way to traffic from the left. Be very aware of elderly Spaniards who use traffic islands as a refuge, when trying to cross-busy roads.
You will notice when negotiating traffic islands, that only a relatively small amount of people indicate the exit they are going to take. As a result, if the person in front is in the wrong lane, more often than not they simply move over without warning. Lane discipline is something which has not even been promised, let alone practiced.
It is not unusual to find that one or more of the exits leading from an island have zebra crossing on them! As you would imagine, during times of peak traffic both pedestrians and insurance companies run tremendous risks so beware.
Most main roads are designated as priority roads and where this is the case indication is usually by one of two signs. The one you will see most is a yellow diamond on a white background. The other is a triangle with a broad, vertical arrow with a thinner horizontal line entering from the left or the right indicating the minor road joining.
Of particular importance is the fact that if and when you find yourself on a secondary road not displaying priority signs, you must give way to vehicles coming from your right. The fact that nobody else seems to do this should not be taken by you as the norm. Violation of the priority rule accounts for a considerable amount of accidents on Spanish roads.
When driving in towns be very careful if it has been raining. Spain does not get a lot of rain so the build up on the roads of rubber, produced by vulcanizing tyres acts as a fine lubricant when wet. To a lesser degree, this happens on all types of roads.
The first question which must be answered is "Yes" petrol is much cheaper in Spain than is the case in either the United Kingdom or Republic. Over £1 per gallon cheaper. of Ireland
In Spain, leaded petrol is readily available and together with unleaded, comes in two grades - 95 and 98 Octane. Diesel is always available and more people opt for this fuel in Spain, than in the UK, being cheaper and giving better mileage, also Diesel cars do not incur or carry any additional taxes. Most garages also offer two stroke fuels in a variety of pre-mixtures.
It was widely stated that leaded fuel would not be sold within the European Union after January 1st 2000 but 18 months later this is not the case. When the situation finally does come about, most cars can convert easily to unleaded by simply changing the ignition timing. In Spain, where vehicles last far longer, some of the older ones may require valves and valve seating to be replaced with harder metals able to withstand the higher temperatures at which unleaded fuel burns.
Whilst tourist areas, towns and cities are well served with petrol stations, this is not the case with rural areas. If you intend doing a lot of driving inland it may be a good idea to carry a can of petrol. By law you may carry 10 litres in a secure can approved for the purpose.
In Spain, three main petrol companies compete for your custom, although there are several others starting to gain footholds. Campsa, Repsol and Cepsa, the last two of which also supply butane for household use, charge almost identical prices. Until quite recently, the Spanish government fixed the price at which petrol could be charged but this contravened EU legislation and petrol companies are now at liberty to set their own prices, which they do - but all charging the same price!!!
Bear in mind that currency fluctuates as much as petrol prices and at the time of reading this things could have changed significantly. However, it is almost certain that Spain will not allow its petrol prices to approach anywhere near those currently being charged in the UK and ROI.
If you find yourself in Spain over one of their numerous public holidays, don't expect to find a petrol station open. Although some will be, they will be few and far between. One good thing is that petrol companies have divorced themselves from the Spanish siesta habit and most open 24 hours a day.
In quieter areas, forecourts may close during the night. In the larger towns, cities and holiday resorts, self-service is the norm but in quieter areas it is still common for a forecourt service. However, self-service is creeping in all over Spain and it won't be too long before the pump attendant has gone forever. Petrol is normally purchased in quantities of x 5 Euros - sometimes 10 at some garages.
Red - Green - Black
Most Spanish petrol pumps are coded with the universally accepted colours of green for unleaded, red for leaded and black for diesel. Also, the unleaded nozzles are smaller than the leaded nozzles and will only fit the tank of a car which requires unleaded fuel. If you put leaded fuel into a car which has a catalytic exhaust, it will ruin it and require replacing. One common error among tourists and those new to Spain is filling a petrol tank with diesel. Whilst cheaper, it can have dire consequences. Check very carefully the fuel you require is that which you are about to put into your tank.
As with the UK and most other countries, Spanish petrol stations offer a wide variety of confectionary, foods, cigarettes and even alcohol from their forecourt shops. Some have there own cafes and even bars where you can get a very decent meal
Seat belts have been compulsory in new vehicles in Spain since July 1994. If a child is under the age of 12 he or she must travel in the back seats of your car unless the front seat is fitted with a state approved child seat.
Failure to wear a seat belt can result in an on-the-spot fine of about €100 or £60 and if you show by a second offence that you have not yet learned, the stakes can rise considerably and include the loss of your license. Despite this rule I see children without seatbelts most days when dropping off at school, again though, the fact that you see this should not cause you to believe this is the "norm" or acceptable. Seat belts save lives.
As with the United Kingdom and other EU countries, if you are injured in a road accident for which you are not responsible but found not to have been wearing a seat belt, insurance companies have the right not to pay out for the personal injury part of any claim you may initiate against the guilty party. Not entirely without surprise is the fact that the exercising of this right is quite popular. The rule must be seat belts at all times.
If you buy a used car in Spain and the rear seats are fitted with lap straps only, you may wish to consider changing them for lap and diagonal restraints. Seat belts if fitted must be worn by all occupants and time and again lap straps only have shown to cause serious back and head injuries, particularly to children.
Parking in areas where it is indicated that parking is not permitted or exceeding the time permitted for parking can lead to on the spot fines or the increasingly popular trick of being towed away. This happened to me only months after we arrived, apparently it is a good money spinner, when people are not always aware of the rules. I have learnt my lesson anyway, and Paul was not amused when I had to get him off the golf course to bring the money for my fine! This slick method of stealing your vehicle in the blink of an eyelid and selling it back to you for 80 euros at a time is definitely not to be recommended, be careful where you park!
Use of the Horn
If you have experienced and can recall Spanish roads of just a few years ago, you will definitely be impressed by one noticeable improvement - which concerns the Spanish use of the horn!
When vehicles first arrived in Spain, they had the horns wired up to the ignition switch so they sounded immediately and constantly whilst the car was running, stopping only when the ignition was turned off. Or did it just seem that way? Today, however the situation is very different with car horns rarely used. Supporting this responsible attitude is a law prohibiting horns from being sounded at night in town other than in an emergency. Break this law and the fine is a moderate 60 euros.
When I first arrived in Spain I, like many tourists and expatriates, traveled miles trying to find a road allowing me to turn left. After a while it became clear, when I discovered that in many cases a specially marked filter lane existed, allowing me to leave the road to the right and then loop forward so as to be able to cross the road at right angles to the direction in which I have just been travelling. Sounds a little complicated but in fact it does work quite well. Often traffic lights assist at these locations.
On the subject of traffic lights, these are normally situated on poles at the side of the road but may also be suspended from a gantry above the road. Be very careful when you are driving into the sun because it is quite possible to drive through a red light.
The sequence of the lights is slightly different to that in UK (which is red, red and amber, green, amber and then red), in Spain the sequence is red, green, amber and then back to red. Amber means that you must stop at the stop line and it is only legal to continue if you have crossed the line when the amber light illuminates. Up to the present time, Spaniards have remained seemingly unimpressed with the principle of traffic lights ignoring them as they please. This is particularly true of moped and scooter drivers.
Under Spanish law, all vehicles using the roads must be fully insured for third party damage. However, there are hundreds of thousands of cars on Spanish roads which do not carry any insurance at all. The penalties for doing this can be severe, particularly where an accident is involved and injury has occurred when fines of over 1500 Euros, imprisonment or both may be expected. It is also useful to know that you can be stopped at any given time by the Guardia civil and asked for your papers which by law you must carry, this includes your Driving licence, Insurance papers and car documents including either MOT or the Spanish equivalent. I would seriously think about fully comprehensive insurance if only for the fact to make sure at least you are covered if it’s not your fault and the other party is not!
If you find yourself new to Spain and looking for car insurance, bear in mind that in recent years a considerable number of Spanish companies have folded, leaving their policyholders without cover. However, today most Spanish companies are comparable with those found in the UK. Our Insurance was actually about £100 cheaper here and included a replacement vehicle unlike our previous policy.
There are numerous insurance companies offering their products in Spain, many of them British including Direct Line, known in Spain as Linea Direct, (we use these now as they were the best deal around at the time and also the only ones who would insure our 18 year old son!) If you intend to become a resident, you could also try either the Expat Club or Extran Direct, both of which are underwritten by Royal Insurance. We used a local company called Knight Insurance when we first arrived where they all spoke English and were very helpful. Later though they were not the most competitive. Please do get comparative quotes, its amazing how companies will negotiate when given the chance!
All offer a variety of policies which can be tailored to suit all requirements and current premiums are probably the lowest in Spain. Of importance to many as well are those that have employees in their offices who speak English and other European languages?
It is common to find that comprehensive insurance is only available on cars of less than three years old but by shopping around you will find companies prepared to insure older vehicles comprehensively. One very civilized custom in Spain is the habit of insurance companies giving at least two months notice of any premium increases. If they don't, you simply pay the same premium as last year.
As with the UK some insurance companies will decline business when it concerns high performance vehicles whilst others court the patronage of experienced older drivers with good safety records by offering special low-cost policies.
Expect to pay around 200 euros per annum for third party insurance for a small family saloon and 1500 euros plus for a top of the range Mercedes or BMW 7 series. You can reduce your premiums a little if you are prepared to accept an excess on an agreed part of any claim you may make but drivers with less than two or three years experience may be required to pay a little over the odds to obtain insurance.
Some companies also penalize drivers over the age of 70 with increased premiums. Any conviction for dangerous driving or drinking and driving will add seriously to your renewal costs, again much the same as in the UK.
Insurance rates differ all over Spain and are determined simply by the cost to the companies of insuring vehicles in various areas. Madrid and the larger Spanish cities are the most expensive areas for car insurance with premiums in rural areas being the lowest.
There are several "extras" which can be attached to your Spanish policy such as driver and passenger insurance which allows for compensation for injuries in the event of an accident. This includes compensation for incapacity to work. In the event of death, the beneficiaries receive payment determined by the policy benefits.
If you have a UK or no claims bonus from your own country this can be used in Spain but the companies will require written proof before they allow a reduction in your premiums. We had no problems using our no claims from the UK.
Although considered optional, most insurance companies in Spain provide an accident and breakdown service. Instead of calling the AA or RAC as you would at home, you simply call the national number on your insurance policy and as you carry this with you by law, it is always to hand. You are not allowed to tow in Spain which is why most policies cover you to get you home.
Most companies operate a slight restriction in that you have to be more than a certain distance from your home (which is somewhere between 10 - 15 miles). Should you be abroad with your Spanish registered car and it breaks down, if this part of your insurance is enabled, your vehicle will be recovered for you. Check to see if your insurers include this useful feature as a routine or whether you will have to pay more for it. Either way, you should not be without this unique, useful feature. As always check your policy.
Laws regarding your Vehicle
As a member of the EU you may bring your car with you to Spain, and leave it on UK plates but only on the following terms. To be legal in Spain your UK plated vehicle must have current Tax, Insurance and MOT
Your vehicle may not stay in Spain any longer than six months in any one calendar year and must be insured in its country of registration as per EU Law. This is something which causes many a great deal of problems when they find they cannot insure their car with a Spanish insurance company nor find a British company prepared to insure them. Some companies will offer cover but please read the small print. Most policies issued under these circumstances are fragile to say the least.
More likely is that you will have to import your car and register it in Spain. This will entail the payment of a 12% import tax but the tax varies depending on engine size. If you take out a residence permit this all changes. Your car must then be registered in Spain but you can claim exemption from the 12% registration tax: if, and I repeat if, you re-register your car within 30 days of applying for your residencia and ITV your vehicle (also within 30 days from start to finish). See importing your car!
Drinking & Driving
Spain has taken longer than most other European countries to introduce a drink drive law, but this is what they have done and legislation is now firmly in place.
If you think that you are going to drink and drive in Spain without worry then - you're wrong!
The fact that most Spanish roads require your undivided attention and increased driving skills if you are to draw your pension, are reason enough not to drink and drive without going into the safety of others as well.
It's a well-known fact that when it comes to alcohol, everyone believes they have their own particular level of tolerance, and such people are regular recipients of some pretty nasty fines. Remember, drink drive laws were brought about based mainly on driver’s reaction times and not on the standard of driving. Many drive quite well whilst over the limit - perhaps better than they do normally but reaction times may be 10 or 20 times slower.
If Guardia Civil pull you over and ask you to take a breath test, which if it proves positive, then retribution - though not always quick- is certain!
It may take six months before you receive a registered letter informing you that you have 15 days in which to pay a fine of 450 Euros or even more (30% discount for swift payment) and during this time you are allowed to continue driving. Your solicitor may be able to represent you, but if not, and if you don't speak Spanish, it is advisable to take an interpreter with you when you go to the Jefatura Provincial de Tráfico.
When you receive notification of your fine, you will also probably be informed that your driving license will be suspended for a month. If driving is vital to you, perhaps because of your job, you can plead your case in writing - substantiated by as much legal documentation as possible - when perhaps three months later you receive another registered letter in connection with the suspension.
Another three months or so, and you'll receive a further notification informing you of the outcome of your plea. Although the one-month ban is not negotiable, you may be able to divide it into two 15-day periods, or even four 7-day periods (you can choose the dates to suit you best), but you'll have to add a further two days for the privilege.
The period(s) during which you are not permitted to drive will be noted in your license but once your punishment is complete, you can take a new set of photographs to the Jefatura Provincial de Tráfico and they will issue you with a 'clean' replacement license. Whether or not this removes your offence from official records we are not at all sure - having been informed by various sources that it does and it doesn't!
Driving while banned will result in a fine of between 100 and 1,500 Euros (year 2003 examples), together with a further suspension for twelve months. If you are foolish enough to try to get away with it a second time, your driving license will be permanently withdrawn and then punishments become something to be seriously regretted. Please note that further driving whilst banned puts paid to insurance with most companies.
Many expatriates delight in what appears to be a very lax drinking and driving law but the truth is you are well advised to avoid problems with the Spanish police. If you have an accident with a Spaniard and are found to be over the limit, you may find that the fact of the matter has been lost to matters more concerned with nationalism. A few wrong words at this time and the matter will seriously worsen.
In relation to the UK, Spain's drink/driving law seems very civilized and somewhat tame but be aware of the numbing amount of bureaucracy you will have to deal with and, you will have to deal with it!
In a country where alcohol is so very cheap, take advice – just don't drink and drive.
Servicing & Repairs
If you are considering taking your car to Spain you'll probably be wondering what the situation is in regard to servicing and repairs. The news is relatively good on this front, providing you drive a normal vehicle and preferably European built.
European manufacturers are well represented but if you happen to have an American car, which you intend to take to Spain, you will more than likely find the spares situation is infinitely worse than that of the UK.
Only a relatively short period of time ago the less popular Japanese cars suffered from the same paucity of garages and support in Spain as was the case with Korean cars. Whilst the majority can be serviced by any garage, if spares are required, your vehicle could be off the road for several weeks awaiting their arrival. If you own a car which can be described as being "different" you may consider carrying a small stock of essential spares. If used, these can be replaced at your convenience by importing them from the UK or other parts of Europe where, even allowing for delivery, they may be up to 50 per cent cheaper.
The quality of repair work is usually of a high standard and prices are very competitive with many garages offering fixed prices for routine servicing. It goes without saying that you should not rely on a Spanish garage to repair a car when they say they will as its common for repairs to take days or even weeks longer than scheduled due to the Spanish manana attitude. That and no spare parts available in the country.
If you find a garage with which you are happy, it really is worth developing a working relationship. Once you are known as a regular, the service will really reflect the fact that they want your business. My advice to help you find a good one, one who will look after you, is to ask through locals and recommendations as these are normally some of the best.
One advantage to keeping all your eggs in one garage basket is the simple fact that in Spain it is not common for garages to provide you with a loan car whilst yours is being serviced. However, if you are well known to them they may well collect your car from your door or perhaps run you home when you have taken your car in for a service.
One thing you need not worry about are garage standards in Spain. They may be different but they are usually very, very good in relation to prices and standards in most of Europe.
An interesting email I passed to Brian Deller regarding a very popular topic about driving in Spain...
Dear Mr Waite,
Sharon has passed your enquiry to me. More details of why are in my web-site and the link is below.
To clarify the term RH drive, I am assuming that this means that the steering wheel is on the left-hand side as are 99.9% of vehicles in Spain. I write this because some people get confused on this point.
From November 1st 2007, ALL used commercial vehicles and this includes trucks, buses and motor-caravans, will not be accepted for re-registration in Spain due to exhaust pollution reasons. For some years now, people have been importing used vehicles from places such as Germany where the used values are less than here, and in some cases with motor-homes, they have been 10 - 15 years old. Also, often it has been because they were moving here.
It is possible if the vehicle is less than six months old, to apply but advisable to check beforehand as these working vehicles do high mileages and may not pass a pollution test check at the ITV station. It is not only the actual pollution but the old design stage of the engine and exhaust with particulate filters now being normal on new vehicles.
You may ask Jaime at email@example.com or phone 616-673-556 or 952 59 35 00. Jaime is based in Fuengirola, Malaga and has been attending to these matters since 1997, and has valuable contacts at Trafico. He speaks fluent English.
As you have just arrived, may I suggest that you obtain a copy of my book, Motoring in Spain, which contains this information as well as 288 pages of other legal and important driving advice, all in English.
The Third Edition is about to be issued (at the printers now) and can be obtained later next week (to allow for delivery times) from one of the bookshops listed on my web-site. The suggested selling price is Euro 22.95.
Regards / atentamente
Brian J Deller, author and publisher/ editor
Subject: Re: From Brian Deller Motoring in Spain.
Hi Brian, thanks for your info and I will endeavor to pass on your website etc to anyone who needs driving info. The vehicle I was refering to is a uk spec, steering wheel on the right, 2 months old van, to the max weight of 6.5 tonnes. I have been in Spain for 5 years and now I am moving my whole company to Spain, I would like to bring this truck with me to use over here, but I cannot find that definitive answer of whether I can import it or indeed if I can use it here on uk plates (being in europe etc).
Thanks for your valuable time Andrew
Steering wheel on the right alone is enough to disqualify the vehicle and has been for several years. It is to do with danger when pulling out from the curb and so on. Sorry but you need to sell it in the UK. Private vehicles may be used here for up to 182 days in any calendar year with certain restrictions, but commercials are only allowed here working only for 30 days to deliver from outside of Spain or to deliver back outside. It is the same throughout Europe.
You will have to buy a used or new one here or a new one in the UK with a LH steering-wheel and register it here. Better to buy here for warranty etc.
As I have said, my book has much more information and I am collecting the new Third Edition from the printers tonight. For Euro 22.95 like all others who have thanked me in the past for writing it, I am sure you will find it invaluable.
Where do you live or are you based?
When it comes to driving in Spain and Spanish drivers, there is enough information to fill a large book. In fact, several people have done just this, one of whom is David Hampshire as previously mentioned. His book, Living and Working in Spain, deals exhaustively with most subjects including all aspects of motoring. It's very well written and funny in many places and at under £15, is well worth the money if you are contemplating a move to Spain.
Spanish Driving Licence/Test
We all know what to expect when we get behind the wheel of a car and take our lives in our hands when we drive in Spain, but did you know how the Spanish sit their driving test? Well here is a run down of what they have to do before they get their driving licence courtessy of David from ...http://www.vinalopotrader.co.nr/
If the test is not available in your native language, you will have to take it in Spanish, and this can be tricky for non-native speakers. The test consists of 40 questions, of which you can miss three (year 2006). However, the questions are "trick questions" and, thus, not easy to figure out, even for Spaniards.
Probably the most important thing to understand as you go into this process is that it is well-known as a money maker for the government and the driving academy industry. The test is purposely designed to ensure that failure rates remain as high as possible and those taking the test have to re-take it as many times as possible.
You will be allowed three chances to pass both the written and the driving test before having to pay a fee that buys you three more chances. The three chances can be divided however you like. For example, if you pass the written test the first time around (don't count on it), you have two chances to pass the practical test. Should you pass the written on your second try, you will have only one chance to pass the practical section.
For those of us who come from countries with different systems, this form of testing can be quite degrading. You can memorize the driving manual backwards and forward, understand everything it says and score well on practice tests, but still fail the big test. What's more, you will not be told what you missed on the test, which means you will be unable to contest the results.
Before losing heart though, take a look at the roads and think about how many have somehow made it through the long process. At the same time, be advised that a variety of driving tests do exist. Special tests are available for those with physical handicaps, for example, there is a test especially designed for deaf/mute persons. The test is comprised of the same 40 questions offered to everyone else, only they are straightforward with no tricks involved. There are also video-based tests for those who cannot read or write, but need a license for work purposes.
If you are having difficulties obtaining your license, it may be useful to politely question the traffic authorities regarding the possibility that you take a different version test. Be prepared to explain your reasons for needing the license. And remember, that very often, issues are more negotiable in Spain than in more rigid societies.
While on the subject of driving in Spain, the law requires you to carry your;
1. Driving license, car document's and insurance at all times.
2. Seat belts are worn front and back at all times.
3. Less than 25mg/100ml of alcohol be in the blood (much less than many other countries) Only one small glass of wine or beer!!!
4. Two warning triangles be carried. (Should be placed at 50 and 150 meters behind your vehicle)
5. Do not use a mobile phone whilst driving unless completely hands free system.
6. Children under 12 are not permitted in front seats or on a motorcycle.
7. Radar detectors are illegal as is warning drivers ahead of a checkpoint.
8. First Aid Kit.
9. Set of spare bulbs and the tools to change them.
10. If you wear glasses to drive then you must carry a spair pair in the car.
11. Reflective Vests for driver and each and every pasenger of the car, so if its a five/seven seter, five/seven vests.
None of the above items are provided in any hire cars here in Spain, the hire company's state that the items have a habit of walking, be warned that if you are stopped by the Traffico you will get a fine for not carrying the items, you might be able to re-claim the fine back from the hire car company. If you are a regular user of hire cars then it might be wise to carry a kit of the above items for use while you are hiring a car.
The European "Good Samaritan Law" requires every driver to stop and provide assistance when encountering an accident or incident, providing it is safe to do so. This may require a first aid kit and a fire extinguisher and it is therefore strongly advisable to carry these items when driving in Europe.
from Sharon please be careful and satisfy yourself that it is a real incident before you stop...never put you and your family at risk
Insurance Policies, Somewhere, in the smallprint of most policies, is a statement to the effect that it is the driver's responsibility to ensure that the vehicle complies with the law and is roadworthy for the country he/she intends to visit. Failure to discharge this responsibility could result in the company repudiating liability under the policy.
Failure to comply In the event of prosecution and conviction for failure to comply with the legal requirements, the courts in all EU countries have wide powers to impose swingeing penalties, and the arresting officers have extensive powers to impose "On The Spot Fines". The moment these are demanded, they have to be paid in cash, in the local currency, to the arresting officer. Credit Cards or Travellers Cheques are not accepted,and in some countries inability to pay, risks impounding the drivers car until the fine is paid.
Fines Traffic Violations are divided into three categories:
Very serious "muy grave" incur fines from €302 to €602 and suspension for up to 3 months include:
1.refusing to take a breath test.
2. exceeding the speed limit by 50%.
3. reckless driving.
4. driving in the wrong direction against traffic.
6. carrying 50% more passengers than seats.
Serious "grave" incur fines from €91 to €302 and possible suspensions include:
1. Speeding in excess of 50%.
2. Parking in a dangerous position.
3.Negligence such as driving without lights.
4. Throwing out an object which could cause an accident or fire.
Minor "menor" incur fines up to €91 and includes:
1. Parking tickets.
Offenders may obtain a 30% discount for prompt payment or may pay a policeman on the spot.
Non residents tourists are usually fined on the spot. The fine may be a "garantia" so that you can continue you trip and you could then contest the fine later in court.
Headlamp Beam Adaptors Failure to adapt your headlamps at anytime Day or Night, will render your vehicle Unfit for use on the road and could invalidate your motor insurance. Be warned!
Both unlicensed drivers and many non-EU citizens are required to take a driving test in order to obtain the Spanish license required of all residents in this country. If the test is available in your native language at this time, you're troubles are nearly solved. Proceed to seek out an academy that offers support, manuals and practice tests, pay your fees and continue with the course until you pass both the written and the practical test.
It is usually a special clinic where you go to take the medical and there are two here in Albatera one next to the 24 hour shop Clinca Servimed same road as Bar Meson Vino Vieja ( Ben`s Bar) and the other English speaking next the Coyote bar, Albaservisol please ask if not sure, it is quite a simple test. Many or in fact (most?) drivers with foreign EU driving licenses here are not aware of the need for the medicals, its a simple eye test similar to opticians but quicker, hearing test and then hand eye co-ordination test. The beeps you make are normal ...you are allowed a few!!!!