Renting A Car In Spain Tips & Frequently Asked Questions

Living and driving in Spain for the past ten years has turned us into road warriors and of course driving in Spain gurus.  We have purchased 2 cars, sold one car and we are well above the count of 20 when it comes to car rentals cars in Spain.  For almost a year, we rented cars regularly, when we didn’t own a car.  We have also flown to other parts of Spain and then rented a car for our vacation.  Not to mention the many visitors and blog readers we have helped with renting a car in Spain.  So I guess we do have a bit of experience on the matter.  Let’s cover the most frequently asked questions for your car rental Spain.

Renting a car in Spain. Renting a car in Spain is easy and can be cheap, if you know how to find the deals. We have been Living and driving in Spain since Aug 2012, so now we are driving in Spain gurus. We have purchased 2 cars, sold one car and we are well above the count of 20 when it comes to renting cars in Spain. Read more on

Can people drive in Spain with US driver’s license?

Of course you can drive in Spain with a US driver’s license, but it needs to be paired with the International Driving Permit.  They may not ask to see it at the car rental company, but that doesn’t mean you are in the clear. 

If you are pulled over and don’t have it with you, that is when you will feel the pain and likely receive a big fine.  Most insurance will only provide you coverage if you have a “valid driver’s license”, a US license isn’t valid in Spain alone.  It must be paired with the international driving permit, so go spend the $20 or so and just get it!  Make sure you are up on these rule for your car rental Spain!

What do you need to rent a car in Spain?

To rent a car in Spain, you must be the right age (see below).  All drivers must produce a valid driver’s license.  Non-EU license holders require an international driving permit.  All the drivers’ names must be entered on the rental agreement.  Often you will need a credit card with the same name that is on the rental contract, to hold the deposit for the car in case of damages.  They will also ask you for a passport for the main driver.

Renting a car in Spain age minimum and maximum?

18 years of age is the minimum legal age for driving in Spain.  Please note that most car hire suppliers require a minimum age of 21 in order to hire a car.  In addition, drivers under the age of 25 can be subject to a “young driver fee”, to be charged by the supplier at the time of pick up.

If you are older than 65, 70 or 75 you may also be obligated to purchase the full insurance directly from the car rental company.  All three ages are listed, as it varies depending on which rental car company you are using.  It will likely be more expensive, but you will be covered.

Which side of the road do you drive on in Spain?

They drive on the right!  Cars drive on the right side of the road in Spain, with the driver on the left side of the car.  This is a bonus for the American, as it is familiar and the same as the US!  That said, they do drive pretty fast and typically only use the far left lane for passing.  If you find yourself sightseeing in the left lane, scoot on over and drive in the right lane.

Barcelona by bike - Park Güell Barcelona Spain

Are there any extra costs when renting a car in Spain?

Check the cost of any extras that aren’t included in the basic price, such as collision damage waiver/CDW (cobertura de daños por colisión), theft cover (cobertura contra robo), personal accident insurance/PAI (asistencia por lesiones personales), airport tax (cargo de aeropuerto), roof rack, baby seat, air-conditioning, and additional drivers.  Do make sure you read the fine print for your car rental Spain or in any country.

Some companies don’t offer unlimited kilometers (kilometraje ilimitado), so you need to pay per kilometer after you pass their threshold.  Often this can be expensive if you plan to actually use the car.  I want to say we have rented in the past and had a 200 km per day limit.  Of course that is an average per day, so you can figure out how many days you are renting times the kilometer limit, to figure out what the total mileage limit is for your car rental Spain.

If you are planning a road trip and pop into a neighboring country (Portugal, France, Andorra or Gibraltar, or even Morocco), check in advance that you’re permitted to take a car out of Spain, as you may need extra insurance.

What is the speed limit in Spain?

Okay for those of you who get a thrill from fast speeds, don’t get too excited when you see the speed limit.  All speed limits listed below are in km/h or kilometers per hour not miles per hour.  For example: 120 km/hr = 74.5 mi/hr, but that is still a bit faster than many roads in other countries.

The image below shows a list of the maximum speed limits and the compulsory minimum speed limits.  The maximum will be signaled by a round red and white sign, with black numbers.  The minimum speed will be signaled on a round blue and white sign, with white numbers.

Different types of roads and vehicles have different maximum and minimum speed limits, so only use this as a guide for a standard car.  All speed limits listed below are in km/h or kilometer per hour.  If there are any road works, you must comply with the speed signs posted in yellow.

Speed limit signs in Spain

Spanish-Road-Signs-Speed limits in Spain

What if I receive a speeding ticket in my car rental Spain?

Don’t think you are clear from paying a speeding ticket because you are renting a car in Spain or even if you dip over to Portugal.  The speed cameras will snap that photo of the plate and the car rental company will receive the ticket.  They will then match up that you had the rental on that date and send you the ticket, likely with an additional 50 euro processing fee.

The thing about speeding tickets and most tickets in Spain, the fee is much lower if you pay it quickly.  For example if you pay it within 30 days, the 200 euro fine is only 100 euros, so it is best to pay as soon as possible.  The one catch you have with a rental car in Spain, is the time for the ticket to be sent to the rental car company and then eventually make it to you, that 30 day window may be gone.  Then you would need to pay the full amount plus the processing fee.  So when renting a car in Spain, be careful when driving and try not to speed.  It could save you so much money!

What are the best tips to find deals for car rental Spain?

To get the best deals on a rental car, there isn’t just one way to find the deals.  I usually search many ways and compare and play with the dates and times for the car rental.  We usually search a few ways:

  1. Directly with a car rental company.
  2. Through a search aggregator:  These are search engines which compile many car rental companies and provide a nice matrix or comparison chart, so you can find the best deal possible.  This is usually how we rent our cars and believe me I search them all for the best deals.

Additional information for renting a car in Spain or general driving in Spain

Tips for car rentals in Spain – Very useful information to capture all of the options for renting a car and understanding what is common in Spain.

Car Rental Insurance Options by third parties

There are also third party companies where you may purchase a CDW policy for the duration of your rental car.  Often this covers the amount of your excess when you rent the car or it can be full insurance. You can look for yourself. Here are a couple recommended by our readers. 
Worldwide insure  or rentalcover

Driving in Spain – Everything you need to know and more! 

This is our ebook on just about anything you would want to know about driving in Spain.  We’ve received glowing feedback from our readers.

Driving in Spain- Everything you need to know & more. If you are planning a trip to Spain and intend on driving, this is an essential book for you. We offer you a complete guide to driving in Spain.

Curious about those Spanish road signs?  We help you figure many of them out and have a little fun with it.

Do you plan on Driving in Portugal? 

You may want to read the tips on the toll roads in our article first.  Driving in Portugal

Organized Tours

There are also many organized tours for you to enjoy from being active on walking or biking tour, to enjoying a food or wine tour.  There is so much to do and Viator has so many great offers for you.  Click here to see their latest Spain Deals!

Where to Stay in Spain

We have the best Spain holiday rentals here:

Property Owners: you may list your holiday property!


Thinking of Moving to Spain?

Alan has written a very thorough e-book, Live in Spain, which walks you, step by step, through the entire process of the non lucrative visa requirements and the Spain retirement visa requirements. It is full of tips and tools to help you and a matrix with spells out the special things for each Spanish consulate in the USA.  It also provides you with a checklist to make sure all of the organization and timing of documents in on target.  We have helped hundreds of families, couples and singles successfully move to Spain!  

Do you want to live or retire in Spain?  If you are an American or Canadian, or even just an English speaking resident of a non-European Union (E.U.) country and want a long term visa in Spain, then Live In Spain is what you need. This is the book that will help turn that dream into a reality. Read If you're interested in applying for either a Retirement or Non-Lucrative Visa, you're going to want Live In Spain. Read more on

We also have a book to help you prepare for your move and getting settled once you arrive!  Getting Settled In SpainIf you are moving to Spain from the US or just about any other country, this will help you with your residency paperwork, setting up banks, utilities & services. Save you money on ATM's, transfers and cars. Read more on



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