What you need to know about driving during Spain’s coronavirus lockdown

Fiona Govan
Fiona Govan - [email protected]
What you need to know about driving during Spain’s coronavirus lockdown
Photos: AFP

When can you use your car during Spain's coronavirus lockdown?


Very strict regulations have been in place since Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez declared a state of alarm on March 14th with rules in place to stop residents from leaving their home unless they have good reason.

These reasons include shopping for essential items, visiting vulnerable relatives or your children (if you share custody with someone in a different residence), attending a medical appointment or travelling to work if you are considered a key worker or from an exempt profession.

Those caught leaving their homes without good reason are liable to fines and possibly even arrest.

But what exactly are the rules for driving? When is it acceptable to get in the car and who can travel in the vehicle with you?

The Local takes a look at the regulations determined by Spain’s traffic authority (DGT) to find out.  

The DGT has outlined seven reasons why it is acceptable to be in your car during the lockdown, which has now been extended to at least April 25th.


These are:

1-To purchase food, medicines, newspapers or those items that are considered essential

2-To travel to a medical appointment  or for hospital treatment

3-You can drive to your workplace if it is considered essential and therefore not subject to recent confinement restrictions

4-To return to your habitual residence

5-Traveling by car to a financial or insurance entity is allowed as long as there are compelling reasons to do so

6-Go to the home an elderly or vulnerable person who may require your help.

7-In case of force majeure or urgent need, citizens can use their car but they have to be able to clearly justify the reason

The last point is vague and implies that extraordinary circumstances will be considered on a case by case basis.

But beyond these basic rules for being on the road, there are other questions that have come up about driving during lockdown, some of these are answered in the FAQ section of the DGT's coronavirus page.

How many people are allowed in the car?

This is one of the most frequently asked questions with lots of reports in the Spanish media of police fining those who are caught with passengers in the car.

According to Article 7 of the Royal Decree 463/2020 concerning the state of alarm, only one person should travel in the car at any one time unless the passenger is an elderly relative, child or vulnerable person and there is a justifiable reason to leave the house, in which case the passenger must sit in the back seat furthest away from the driver.


What if my driving licence expires during the state of alarm period? Will I still be able to drive?

The DGT informs those with Spanish driving licences that validity is automatically extended throughout the lockdown period and for 60 days after it ends to give drivers time to update it.

I’m driving in Spain with a driving licence issued by foreign country is that ok?

You can continue driving in the same conditions as before the alarm situation was declared.

The same rules apply during lockdown as they do at normal times, as in you can drive for up to six months with your foreign licence ( if it is recognised in Spain) before having to apply for a Spanish one. However, that time limit is suspended during lockdown and will resume again when it is over. Which means that the six months won’t take into account the months of lockdown.

What should I do if my car is due its ITV (annual road worthy test) during the lockdown period?

The DGT states that the ITV validity will be automatically extended which means you can continue to drive your car during the lockdown.

Plus ITV test centres are all closed.

Can I take my car to the mechanic during lockdown?

Repair shops are allowed to stay open to carry out ESSENTIAL maintenance on those who require their vehicles during lockdown but check with your chosen mechanic as they may not be open or have reduced hours.

Can I still hire a rental car?

Yes, rental car offices are allowed to remain open but the same limitations are in place for rental cars as private cars so only go out on the road for the permissible reasons.

The roads are virtually empty across Spain right now.



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[email protected] 2020/04/17 21:29
This is a good article but when will people stranded in Spain be able to fly home specially if they have to fly via Italy? Meaning may they drive to the airport with a taxi or been taken by family members? Will their visas automatically be extended? It is very difficult to get a straight answer on this

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