Healthplan Spain


Campervan in Spain with police officer Driving In Spain During The Coronavirus Lockdown Expat Tips

The State of Alarm was first declared on March 14 by the Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.

The current restrictions have since been extended until April 26 and mean that Spanish citizens can only leave their homes under exceptional circumstances, i.e. to get essential supplies, visit vulnerable relatives or go to the hospital or pharmacy.

Under the new lockdown restrictions, those who are defined as being ‘key workers’ may also travel to work if they are unable to perform their jobs from home.

Leaving your home under any other circumstance will most likely result in a fine or in some cases a prison sentence.

But where does it leave those who need to drive during the COVID-19 lockdown period?

Spain’s traffic authorities the DGT have published strict guidelines on vehicle usage during the State of Alarm and below we answer some of the most common questions.

Under what circumstances can I use my vehicle?

In general, you are forbidden to drive your vehicle on public roads during the State of Alarm unless it is for a very good reason. There are seven reasons that the DGT have advised of when it is acceptable to travel. These are:-

  1. To purchase food, medicine or other essential items.
  2. To travel to a health centre for an appointment or to receive medical attention.
  3. Travel to your place of work if it is essential.
  4. To return to your habitual residence.
  5. Assist those who need care such as the elderly, children, dependents, disabled and other vulnerable people.
  6. Travelling to a financial or insurance institution if it is absolutely necessary.
  7. Due to ‘force majeure’ or urgent reason. You will need to be able to justify this to the police or other enforcement officers if stopped.

These are the main reasons for using your vehicle. The DGT has also highlighted some of the most common questions that motorists will have during this time.

Can I get my vehicle ITV tested during the lockdown?

If your ITV car inspection is due during the lockdown do not worry. The DGT has said that If the ITV expires during the State of Alarm, it will automatically be extended for up to 30 days from the end of the State of Alarm.

As of May 11, 2020, many of the ITV testing stations have reopened again with the exception of (Malaga and Granada) which are still in Phase 0 of the lockdown de-escalation. 

Note that you will still need to make an appointment online. No walk-in appointments will be permitted. You can read further info at our main ITV page here

My driving license is going to expire. Can I still drive during the State of Alarm?

Yes, you can still drive. The DGT has said that driving licenses that expire during the State of Alarm will automatically be extended until 60 days after the end of the State of Alarm.

Can I still drive with my foreign license during the State of Alarm?

The DGT has said that those with foreign driving licenses can continue to drive under the same conditions prior to the COVID-19 lockdown period.

They also state that as you are only allowed to drive for a maximum of six months using a foreign license, the State of Alarm period will not count. So once the State of Alarm ends, the clock will start ticking again.

[Update 10/06/2020] - UK driving licence holders in Spain have now been granted a 7-month extension to renew their licence photocards by the DVLA.

If you are resident in Spain and your photocard expires between February 1, 2020, and August 31, 2020, it will now be automatically extended for 7-months.

See the following article for further details.

[Update 17/11/2020]

On November 16, 2020, the Spanish authorities launched a new process for UK nationals to exchange their driving licences. You can find out more about the new two-step process here.

Can I take my car to a mechanic during the lockdown period?

Vehicle repair shops are allowed to stay open during the lockdown period to carry out essential maintenance work for those who need their vehicles.

You are advised to contact the repair shop first before travelling to them to make sure they are open.

Can I still hire a car?

Car hire firms are allowed to remain open during the State of Alarm, but the same seven rules above will apply as to the circumstance in which you may drive the vehicle.

How many people can travel in a vehicle?

Only one person should travel in a vehicle at any one time unless the passenger is an elderly relative or someone you are caring for or a child or other vulnerable person. The passenger will need to sit in the back of the vehicle, furthest away from the driver and continue to maintain social distancing.

What if my vehicle breaks down?

Vehicle recovery services are still operational during this time and will continue to provide the same level of assistance to motorists.

Will I be able to fill up with petrol?

Yes, the majority of petrol stations will remain open during the State of Alarm.

Can I visit the DGT traffic authority offices during this time?

No, the DGT office will be temporarily closed during the lockdown period.

A number of services can still be conducted online via the DGT website and you are encouraged to use those where possible to seek further information.

You can also read more about the Coronavirus by downloading our free guide here.