Spanish Driving Rules

Carrying ID

Everyone in Spain must carry government-issued ID at all times, regardless of whether we are Spanish, an EU national, or a foreigner living or holidaying in the country.

The specific law is Article 4 of Organic Law 4/2000 which states that foreign nationals in Spain must carry identity documents issued by the country of citizenship.

Thus, if you live in Spain, and you don’t have Spanish government-issued photo ID, you must carry at all times your own photo ID, in the case of British citizens, this means our passport, or a notarised copy if you do not want to carry the original.

If you cannot identify yourself and are stopped by the police, they may still need identification and will want you to present the ID at the station. Obviously it is because of terrorists, suspected criminals etc. and someone not able or willing to identify themselves could be suspicious.  However, remember, carrying a permit to drive is essential.

With regard to European Union law, all EU citizens have the right to move freely within the EU, and without a visa for any purpose. This includes people choosing to reside in Spain. This is not a problem, however, the right of each nation to retain the ability carry out identity checks on demand is reserved to each state, so if you live in Spain, Spanish law WILL apply.

To conclude, if you are in Spain, you must carry a valid driving licence at all times and you should carry an original or notarised passport or country ID at all times.

Road tax in Spain What do you have to pay for your car?

All Spanish-registered vehicle owners (including motorcycle owners) must pay an annual road tax.

The amount of tax payable varies with the ‘fiscal horsepower’ ( potencia fiscal or caballos fiscales) of your car, which is a nominal amount not necessarily related to the engine power of a vehicle.


Road tax must be paid to your local authority, usually sometime between March and May. Announcements are made on municipal notice boards and in local newspapers and banks, and the town hall may send you a reminder (but don’t count on it!). Tax can be paid in person at the SUMA office near the Town Hall on the N332, directly via certain local banks, direct debit from your account or by post.

When a vehicle is purchased, the tax payable is calculated pro rata for the current tax year. If a car is unused for a whole calendar year, you can have its registration temporarily suspended ( baja temporal) at your provincial traffic department. However, if a vehicle is used for just one month in a year, a tax must be paid for the whole year.

There’s a late payment surcharge (recargo), and the unpaid sum is also liable to interest. Some people have been able to avoid paying road tax for many years, although municipalities are now clamping down on non-payers, whose vehicles can be impounded by local police. Note that a Spanish-registered car is automatically logged by your local municipality when you register your ownership with the provincial traffic department.

A Spanish road tax certificate isn’t displayed inside your car’s windscreen or on your registration plates. However, you should keep the receipt in your car with your other vehicle documents, as the local police may ask to see it.

If you are driving a Spanish registered car without ITV and you are caught, you will be fined and maybe your licence taken away temporarily until the car has passed an ITV.

You must have in your car the following:

  • Insurance in date (not compulsory but recommended)
  • Your car log book and ITV (it can be notarised but it then is easy to forget where your originals are)
  • Your driving licence
  • Approved reflective jackets
  • Two approved red warning triangles (one compulsory, two advisable)
  • A set of spare bulbs/lamps for your car and tools (not compulsory but advisable)
  • If you need glasses – a spare pair is a good idea but not law now

We can help with a number of motoring issues, please contact us

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