Car hire in SpainHiring a car in Spain is a popular choice among the millions of holidaymakers who visit these shores each year. Spain is a diverse and beautiful country with a rich culture and heritage, which is just waiting to be explored. Without a car, you will be missing everything it has to offer.

If you are an expat and live in Spain permanently, there may come a time when you will need to hire a car, so it's good to familiarise yourself with the legal requirements and the process involved.

Renting a car in a foreign country can be a daunting prospect for many of us, but if you read our guide below, you will pre-arm yourself with all the information you need to find the best deal and at the same time avoid any of the common pitfalls associated with hiring a car in Spain.

Legal Requirements and Documentation

To hire a car in Spain you will usually need to be at least 22 years of age, however, this can rise to 25 when hiring vehicles of a specific category. Some car hire companies may also have an upper age limit of around 65 years of age.

It is possible to hire a vehicle if you are under 22, but will depend on the car hire companies policies. You may also be required to pay an additional surcharge as the hire company will see your lack of driving experience as more of a risk.

You will usually be required to provide a form of identification. A passport or if resident in Spain an NIE or residency document should suffice.

You will need to present a full driving licence and depending on where you reside, you may need to provide extra documentation.

  • Resident in Spain - If you are originally from the EU and are now resident in Spain you will be able to use your full EU or Spanish driving licence if you have one. It is important to note that under recent EU regulations, if you have become a permanent resident in Spain you will need to exchange your driving licence for the Spanish equivalent within two years of becoming resident in Spain. Further information can be found here
  • Visiting Spain from the EU - If you are visiting Spain for your holidays from within the EU you can use your current full driving licence. Previously you were required to show the paper part of the licence, but this is no longer a requirement. If you are from the UK, you will not need to provide a DVLA code which provides a summary of your licence including endorsements, as this is not a requirement in Spain.
  • Visiting Spain from outside of the EU - Non-EU drivers will need to provide an International Driver's Permit when hiring a vehicle.

All drivers of the vehicle will need to be named on the agreement.

Deposits and Car Hire Excess Insurance

On collection of the vehicle, you will usually need to provide a credit card so that the car hire company can take a security deposit. The credit card will need to be in the same name as the main driver and must have sufficient funds available.

The security deposit covers the provider for any potential speeding fines, parking fines and any uninsured vehicle parts. It also covers them if the insurance has been invalidated and to ensure safe return of the vehicle.

If taking out the car hire company's own excess insurance cover (see below) you may not need to provide a deposit/credit card.

Collision Damage Waiver or CDW is usually included as a part of the agreement and helps to reduce your liability in the event of an accident. If CDW is not included, you could be hit with the full cost of the vehicle if it were to be written off in an accident. Collision Damage Waiver prevents this and means you will only pay the excess, although this could still run into thousands of Euros.

It's important to note that CDW does not always cover you for things such as tyres, the roof, wheels, interior, glass and wing mirrors along with any excesses as stated above.

A way to avoid being hit with a huge excess bill is to take out a separate car hire excess insurance. These are usually pushed on customers by car hire firms when collecting the vehicle. They can be quite expensive and in the region of £25.00/€25.00 per day. The car hire industry in Spain is very competitive, so car hire firms look at every opportunity to make up for the reduced price of the car hire.

If you purchase a separate excess insurance policy from one of the many companies online, it can cost as little as £2.00/€2.00 per day and will cover you for anything not covered by the standard Collision Damage Waiver. If you do not purchase the hire company's excess insurance, you will need to present a credit card for a security deposit. The security deposit can be anywhere between €250 to €1,000.

Before driving the car away, make sure you check it for any damage. Many companies will go around the car with you and mark off any existing dents and scratches etc. so that you are not held liable. This will normally be highlighted on a document with a drawing of the car, which you will be asked to sign. Make sure that you highlight any damage that the member of staff has not seen otherwise you may be held responsible. Also check the windscreen and all glass for any cracks and chips.

To be safe, you may want to take some photos prior to driving the vehicle away.

You can compare the different car hire excess insurance providers via