When visiting Spain as a tourist, many like the idea of exploring the country by car. But do you know if you need an International Driving Permit (IDP) to do so?
Below we explain what an IDP is and who is required to have one if choosing to drive in Spain.
What is an IDP?
An IDP or ‘International Driving Permit’ is basically an official supplementary document offering a multi-language translation of your driving licence. If one is required in the country you're driving in, you will need to carry it along with your licence and passport, or you risk being fined.
It is important to understand that an IDP is NOT a driving licence. It is merely a translation of your licence.
You do not need to take any form of test to obtain an IDP. In most cases, you will just need to apply online in your country of residence.
Most drivers will not need an IDP to drive in Spain.
How long is an IDP valid for?
In Spain, an IDP is valid for 12 months, and because the permit is merely a translation of your driving licence, it is not necessary to take any form of driving or theory test to acquire one.
Note that although the permit is valid for 12 months, you can only drive for a maximum of six months at any one time.
If you are in Spain for longer than six months, you will be classed as a resident and will not be able to use the IDP. You will therefore need to exchange your licence for a Spanish version if you wish to continue to drive here.
Who needs an IDP to drive in Spain?
This is basically broken down into two categories. Those from the EU and those from non-EU countries.
Spain’s driving authority, the DGT, says that those from the EU and EEA countries do not need an IDP and can continue to drive in Spain just using the licence issued in their home country.
However, if you are driving in Spain for longer than six months, you will be required to exchange your licence for the Spanish version as you will be deemed a resident.
Spain’s DGT recommends that if you are visiting Spain from a non-EU country you should apply for an IDP if driving here.
However, there is an exception to this in that if you are from a Spanish-speaking country such as those in Central and South America, you will not need an IDP as your licence will already be in the appropriate language.
Furthermore, if your country is on the list of the 67 countries whose licences are issued in accordance to Annex 9 of the Geneva Convention or with Annex 6 of the Vienna Convention, you will not need an IDP.
It is worth noting that if you are from an English-speaking country such as the United States, Canada, Australia or New Zealand, you will need to apply for an IDP before you drive in Spain.
Do UK tourists need an IDP to drive in Spain?
Now the UK has left the EU, many Brits will be wondering whether they also need an IDP to drive in Spain.
According to the UK’s government website, British nationals do NOT need an IDP to drive in Spain as long as they are driving there for no longer than six months.
One caveat to that is if you only have the older style paper licence or your licence was issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man.
Visiting Spain and fined for not having an IDP
There are stories of drivers who have visited Spain and been wrongly fined for not having an IDP.
If this happens to you, you should make an appeal with the body that issued the fine so it can be overturned.
Many people believe that having to apply for an IDP is just a money-making scheme, however, we would advise you to obtain one if you are not resident in one of the 67 countries that do not need one or you have an old-style licence which does not have a photograph.
Although it is unlikely that you will be pulled over by the traffic police, if you are, you could be heavily fined if your licence is not in Spanish and you don’t have an accompanying IDP.
So for the small cost (see below), it is well worth having that peace of mind so you can enjoy your holiday.
How much does an IDP cost?
As the IDP is issued by your home country and not Spain, the cost will vary.
However, below you can see a few common prices.
What are the different types of IDP and which one does Spain accept?
There are three different forms of IDP, however, only two are used in EU countries and the European Economic Area (EEA).
According to Wikipedia, Spain accepts both the 1949 and 1968 IDP versions.
Will I need an IDP if I have a Spanish/EU licence and want to drive in the UK?
According to the official UK government website, visitors to the UK do NOT need an IDP.
It says, "Visitors with a non-UK driving licence can drive in the UK. You do not need an international driving permit (IDP)."
November 21, 2022