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Spain

General

Spain is a member of the EU.

Time

The time in Spain is the same as Amsterdam, Paris and Rome and one hour ahead of London. Time on the Canary Islands is the same as London.

Languages

Spanish.

Border formalities

Many formalities and agreements about matters such as necessary travel documents, car papers, requirements relating to your means of transport and accommodation, medical expenses and taking pets with you do not only depend on the country you are travelling to but also on your departure point and nationality. The length of your stay can also play a role here.

We advise you to consult the relevant authorities before your departure about:

  • which travel documents you will need for yourself and your fellow passengers
  • which documents you need for your car
  • which regulations your caravan must meet
  • which goods you may import and export
  • how medical treatment will be arranged and paid for in your holiday destination in cases of accident or illness
  • whether you can take pets. Contact your vets well in advance. They can give you information about the necessary vaccinations, proof thereof and obligations on return. It would also make sense to enquire whether any special regulations apply to your pet in public places at your holiday destination. In some countries for example dogs must always be muzzled or transported in a cage.

You will find plenty of general information on www.europa.eu but make certain you select information that is relevant to your specific situation.

For the most recent customs regulations you should get in contact with the authorities of your holiday destination in your country of residence.

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Currency

The currency in Spain is the euro. Approximate exchange rates September 2016: £1 = € 1.18.

Credit cards

Credit cards can be used in most places, including toll roads.

Opening times/Public holidays

Banks

Credit cards can be used in most places, including toll roads.

Shops

Most shops are open from Monday to Friday until 13:30 and from 16:30 to 20:00, on Saturdays from 9:30 to 13:30. Department stores and shopping centres in big towns are open all day from 10:00 to 21:00 or 22:00.

Chemists

Spanish chemists, which can be recognised by a green cross, are open from Monday to Friday until 13:30 and from 16:30 to 20:00.

Public holidays
  • New Years Day
  • 6 January (Epiphany)
  • Maundy Thursday
  • Good Friday
  • Easter
  • 1 May (Labour Day)
  • Whitsunday
  • 15 July (Corpus Christi)
  • 15 August (The Assumption)
  • 12 October (National Day)
  • All Saints' Day
  • 6 December (Constitution Day)
  • 8 December (Immaculate Conception)
  • Christmas Day

In the week before Easter (the ‘Semana Santa’) the shops open for half the day.

Communication

(Mobile)phones

The mobile network works well throughout Spain. There is a 3G network for mobile internet.

Wifi, internet

You can make use of a wifi network at more and more public locations, often for free.

Post

In general post offices are open on weekdays until 14:30 and from 17:00 to 20:00, on Saturdays until 13:00.

Roads and traffic

Road network

You are not advised to drive in the dark except on main roads. If you break down you can contact the Spanish motoring organisation RACE (in Catalonia the RACC) using the emergency phones.

Traffic regulations

Remember, all traffic in Spain drives on the right and overtakes on the left! Headlight deflectors are advisable to prevent annoying oncoming drivers. Spain uses the metric system, so distances are measured in kilometres (km) and speeds in kilometres per hour (km/h). You must give way to traffic from the right, except on priority routes. This also applies to slow traffic. When driving on a roundabout you have priority over drivers entering it. Trams always have priority.

The maximum permitted alcohol level is 0.5‰. Dipped headlights are compulsory in tunnels. Phones may only be used hands-free. Drivers who wear spectacles must carry a spare pair. Use of the horn is compulsory on blind corners in mountain areas. Carrying a spare set of lamps is mandatory. Radios and mobile phones must be switched off when refuelling your vehicle. Use of a head set in cars is not permitted. Winter tyres are not compulsory in winter conditions but are very much advised, especially in areas such as the Pyrenees and the Sierra Nevada.

Navigation

Notification of fixed speed cameras by navigation systems or mobile phones is permitted.

Caravans, motorhomes

If your caravan is longer than 12 metres, the so called ECE 70 is mandatory. You must then have two small or one large, yellow and red reflective sticker on the back of your caravan. If your caravan is longer than 12 metres you must keep a distance of at least 50 metres from another vehicle outside built up areas.

Maximum allowed measurements of combined length

Height 4 metres, width 2.55 metres and maximum length 18.75 metres (of which the trailer maximum 12 metres).

Fuel

Lead-free petrol and diesel are easily available everywhere. LPG is reasonably well available.

Filling stations

Most filling stations along motorways are open between 06:00 and 24:00. Elsewhere they are open between 07:00 and 22:00. Pay attention when filling up: ‘gasolina’ means petrol and ‘gasoleo’ means diesel! You can pay by credit card at all service stations on motorways.

Tolls

Most motorways in Spain charge a toll. You can pay in cash, by credit card or automatically with an electronic (ETC) box. Toll roads are indicated by the letters AP, while toll free motorways are indicated by the letter A. More information: www.aseta.es.

Mountain passes with caravans

The Bonaigua Pass: is not prohibited for caravans but snow chains must be used in the winter months when there is snow on the ground, and the pass may sometimes be closed. The Portillón Pass: is not prohibited for caravans but the road is not very wide and going in the direction of France is even narrower; driving with a large(r) caravan may then be difficult.

Emergency number

112: the national emergency number for fire, police or ambulance.

Camping

Spain has more than 1000 campsites, of which the sites on the northern Mediterranean coast are the busiest. Reservations here are recommended! Trees, bushes and flowers ensure beautiful campsites, and also provide marked out pitches which increases privacy.

Campsites in Spain are classified by category. Category 1 is the most luxurious. Free camping is not allowed. If you still want to camp where there is no campsite, permission from the landowner must be sought.

Practical
  • The Spanish are renowned for eating late; quite often people eat at home and in catering establishments between 20:30 and 22:30.
  • Blue camping gas bottles cannot be refilled in Spain. You are advised to buy a Spanish container which can be returned when you leave the country.
  • Make sure you have a world adaptor for electrical appliances.
  • You are advised to drink bottled (mineral) water in preference to mains water.