Drive in Spain with an international driver’s licence

You should definitely get an International Driver’s License if you intend to drive during a road trip around Spain.

Please note that in Spain, as of May 1st 2008, driving without a license is a criminal offense, and punishable with imprisonment. Furthermore, it could render your vehicle insurance, including compulsory third party insurance, null and void.

Have a look at a complete guide on where to book your rental car online.


What’s the International Driver’s Licence?

It’s basically a translation of your existing drivers license into different languages, and provides some identifying information. In fact, the document has a picture of you, your name and date of issue on it.

You must use in conjunction with a valid driving license issued in your home country. It’s not intended to replace it. It’s usually valid for a year after its date of issue (NOT a year after the date you arrive in Spain) and NOT renewable.

If you plan to stay longer than one year in Spain you’ll need to apply for a Spanish driver’s license.


Do you need an International Driver’s Licence?

If you are planning a trip of one year or less, applying for an International Drivers License in Spain is important.

Under Spanish law, visitors on a 90-day limit stay or having a Schengen Tourist Visa may drive a vehicle in Spain if they hold a valid home country driving license and a valid International Driving Permit. In other words, you need BOTH licenses.

On top of it, it’s seen as proof to the police and the rental company that you have passed a test in your home country allowing you to officially drive.


How can you get your International Driver’s Licence?

Generally, in order to apply for it the requirements are 2 passport pictures, a filled in permit application, the permit fee and your valid license. If you have any doubt contact the driver licensing authority back home and they will provide all the information that you need.

You’ll only be able to apply for an International Driver’s License in your own country and at you place of residence. There is no point in asking for one in Spain, as this procedure is available only to Spaniards.

So make sure you have yours in case the police ask you to pull off. You should know that as of late driving laws in Spain are more restrictive and the police have increased their control (especially regarding alcohol and speed limits).

In most cases, the International Driver’s Permit won’t cost you a fortune. Don’t be tempted to save your money. Spanish fines for not having the mandatory documents to drive are extremely high (and the police will make sure you pay).


This article is part of a complete tutorial about car rental in Spain where you can read all the information you need to organize your road trip around the country.

Here is a complete summary of all the guide:

1. Should you rent a car or take the train?
2. Driving in Spain: rules and recommendations
3. Do you need an International Driver’s Licence?
4. How to book your rental car online
5. How to find cheap rental rates?
6. Getting to Spain by rental car
7. Visiting Spain by rental car
8. Car parking in Spain