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DRIVING

Spanish driving licence: the essential language to pass your practical test

Understanding what your driving instructor is saying to you in Spanish will be crucial if you want to pass your practical test. 

Spanish driving licence: the essential language to pass your practical test
Photos: Jorge Guererro/AFP

Getting a driving licence in Spain (sacarse el carné de conducir en España) can be a fairly challenging task for foreigners. 

There’s having to memorise Spain’s specific road laws, the big difference in prices between driving schools depending on where you are and, last but not least, understanding Spain’s driving lingo.

Although Spain’s Directorate General for Traffic (DGT) does offer the possibility of taking your theory exam in English, French and German, the practical driving exam has to be carried out in Spanish. 

There are some specialised driving schools (autoescuelas in Spanish) that have instructors who can offer practical lessons in English, but when it comes to actually sitting at the wheel with the DGT examiner in the back seat, it’s almost certainly all going to be in Spanish. 

With this in mind, we’re going to revise the most common instructions that you’re likely to receive from your driving instructor while you’re practising driving, and during your final examen práctico with the examiner.

To keep it as real as possible, all the Spanish verbs we’ll use will be in the imperative form, as that’s what you’re most likely to hear from your instructor. 

We’ve mixed up these with the useful vocab you’re likely to hear to put it all in context, so pay special attention to each part of the sentence.

The basics

Acelera : Speed up

Frena : Brake 

Reduce la velocidad : Reduce your speed

Detente/Para : Stop

Pisa el embrague : Step on the clutch 

Important extras

Ponte el cinturón (de seguridad) : Put on your seatbelt

Asegúrate que tienes bien colocados los retrovisores : Make sure your rearview mirrors are correctly positioned

Getting going

Arranca el coche : turn on the car

Pon las luces cortas/largas : Put on your headlights/brights

Pon el intermitente : Put on your indicator

Gira el volante a la izquierda/derecha : Turn the steering wheel to the left/right

El semáforo está en verde/en rojo/en ámbar : The traffic light is green, red, yellow

Gears

Mete primera, segunda, tercera, cuarta, quinta marcha : Go into first, second, third, fourth, fifth gear

Mete la palanca de cambio en punto muerto : Put the gearbox in neutral

Parking 

Da marcha atrás : Reverse 

Pon las luces de emergencia : Put on your emergency lights

Aparca en batería, en línea o en paralelo : Park at an angle, in line, parallel park

Pon/Quita el freno de mano : Pull up/down the handbrake 

Turning and moving around

Circula por esta carretera de sentido único : Drive along this one-way road 

Cede el paso : Give way

Adelanta a la furgoneta : Overtake the van

Incorpórate a la autopista/la rotonda : Merge onto the motorway/roundabout 

Acuérdate que es una carretera de sentido único/dos sentidos : Remember it’s a one-way/two-way road 

Toma la primera/segunda/tercera salida : Take the first/second/third exit

Échale un vistazo al punto ciego : Check your blind spot 

Mira por el retrovisor : Look through the rearview mirror

Cambia de carril : Change lane

Métete por el carril de dentro/fuera : Take the inside/outside lane

Toma la siguiente salida : Take the next exit

Precautions

No superes el límite de velocidad : Don’t go over the speed limit

Ten cuidado con la curva : Be careful with the turn

Deja pasar al peatón en el paso de cebra : Let the pedestrian cross at the zebra crossing

Asegúrate que no vienen coches en el cruce : Make sure there’s no oncoming traffic at the crossing  

And a couple of extra ones

Toca el claxon/la bocina : Honk your horn

Pon el limpiaparabrisas : Put on the windshield wipers

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For members

WHAT CHANGES IN SPAIN

KEY POINTS: Everything that changes in Spain in October 2022

From VAT cuts on heating, a new citizenship law, a change to Spain's Covid travel restrictions, the latest on UK licences, a round-up of festivals and plenty more, become a member to find out about all the important changes in Spain in October 2022.

KEY POINTS: Everything that changes in Spain in October 2022

Spain’s new sexual consent law comes into effect

October 7th brings the enforcement of a government bill toughening the country’s rape laws by requiring explicit consent for sex acts.

In essence, the law reforms Spain’s criminal code to define rape as sex without clear consent. Crucially, that removes the need for rape victims to prove that they resisted or were subject to violence or intimidation.

READ MORE: ‘Only yes means yes’: Spain edges closer to passing new sexual consent law

“Consent is recognised only when a person has freely demonstrated it through actions which, in the context of the circumstances of the case, clearly express the person’s will,” says the bill.

The proposed reform comes after of a notorious 2016 gang rape of an 18-year-old woman by five men at the bull-running festival in Pamplona, northern Spain.

VAT cut on gas bills

In yet another bid to ease the pain of the cost of living crisis, the Spanish government has introduced a new cost-cutting measure which aims to decrease the amount both residents and small businesses will pay on their gas bills this coming winter.

The VAT cut, which comes into force on October 1st, will also apply to other items used for heating such as pellets, briquets and wood as the price of said biofuel products has also increased considerably in the lead-up to the winter months. 

READ MORE: How much will Spain’s gas VAT cut save me per month?

Bottled butane gas has not been included in the new measure, but its price have been frozen at €19.55 per canister.

The reduction will mean monthly savings for an average user of between €5 and €19, depending on how much they use and the type of contract they have, according to consumer associations.

Overall, the Spanish government estimates the move will represent a save of €210 million for the Spanish population. 

Clocks change

It’s that time of year again. The evenings begin to get darker a little earlier – and the clocks go back. In 2022, the change will come in the early hours of Sunday, October 31st, when daylight saving time officially ends and winter time begins. To be specific, the change comes at 3:00 a.m. on the morning of the 31st of October.

READ MORE: Why Spain is still in the wrong time zone because of Hitler

Fourth Covid vaccines for the over-80s

October will also see the ramping up of the second Covid-19 booster roll-out for people over 80’s and those in care homes, a campaign which also includes the flu vaccine for those who wish to have it. 

As planned, the campaign has started in all Spanish regions on September 26th, except for in Andalusia, where it will begin on October 3rd.

The vaccines to be used will the new inoculations developed by Moderna and Pfizer against the Omicron BA.1 sub-variant, serums approved by the European Medicines Agency on September 1st. 

In Andalusia the Covid-flu vaccination campaign starts on October 3rd, in Aragón and Navarre on October 10th, in the Balearics on October 13th, in Asturias, Cantabria, Catalonia, Extremadura, Galicia, Madrid, Murcia and Castilla y León all on September 26th, whereas in the remaining regions the date for the double vaccination campaign is not yet known.

READ MORE: Spain starts fourth Covid vaccine rollout for over-80s

UK driving licences saga to continue as anger grows

As many of you will know by now, UK driving licence holders who have resided in Spain for more than six months have not been able to drive since May 1st. Five months later and there still isn’t a deal within close sight.

The UK Embassy in Spain is no longer speculating about when an exchange agreement could possibly be reached. The latest update posted on their Brits in Spain Facebook group on September 16th stated that: “We are genuinely making progress on resolving the outstanding points but, for reasons we’ve explained before, we cannot be definitive about the timescale.”

Another Facebook group called “Invasion of the British embassy in Madrid for the DL exchange issue” has since been set up where members are threatening to stage a protest unless the matter is soon resolved. 

Will October bring a major change? Progress may well be made in terms of negotiations but the legislation has to be approved by several branches of the Spanish government before it actually comes into force, and keeping in mind the speed at which bureaucracy in Spain usually moves, it is unlikely to be streamlined in the next 30 days.

Domestic workers law

Following a ruling by the EU’s Court of Justice (CJEU) and pressure from trade unions, the government of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez adopted a reform is to introduce a bill aimed at ending the “discrimination” suffered by these workers.

READ MORE: The new rules for hiring a domestic worker in Spain

Under the changes, which come into force on October 1st, domestic workers are now entitled to claim unemployment benefits and cannot be dismissed without justification.

They will also be covered by healthcare “protection” and be able to access training to improve their “professional opportunities” and job conditions.

Grandchildrens’ citizenship law

A law that makes it easier for the children and grandchildren of Spaniards to gain citizenship will be debated in the Spanish parliament in October.

The bill, also known as the Historical Memory Law, proposes that the children and grandchildren of Spaniards (born in Spain) can gain Spanish citizenship without needing to live or be resident in Spain for any minimum period of time.

“Those born outside Spain to a father or mother, grandfather or grandmother, who would originally have been Spanish, and who, as a result of having suffered exile for political, ideological or belief reasons or sexual orientation and identity, have lost or renounced Spanish nationality, may opt for Spanish nationality, for the purposes of article 20 of the Civil Code,” the text of the proposed bill states.

READ ALSO: How foreigners can get fast-track citizenship in Spain

Covid temperature checks for travellers end

The Covid-19 pandemic is still affecting international travel to Spain – especially if you’re from a non-EU country. 

On Tuesday September 20th, Spain scrapped the requirement from all international passengers arriving by air or sea in the country to complete and show a Covid health control form.

Now, on October 20th, Covid temperature controls and visual checks will be scrapped, sources from Spain’s state airport manager Aena told Spanish daily El Periódico.

READ MORE: FACT CHECK: Do you still need Covid documents to travel to Spain?

However, it is important to note that non-EU tourists such as Britons, Americans, Australians, Canadians or New Zealanders still have to show one of three documents to be able to enter Spain, following an extension of the rule until at least November 15th. These are: 

  • A Covid-19 vaccination certificate –  Your vaccination status must meet the Spanish authorities’ validity period requirements. If more than 270 days have passed since your initial vaccination, you need to show proof of a booster shot.
  • A negative Covid-19 test – This should be either a PCR taken within 72 hours prior of departure or an antigen test, taken within 24 hours prior of departure. 
  • A recovery certificate –  This must be dated within the last six months. You can use a medical certificate or recovery record to prove your Covid-19 status.

Face masks are also still required on planes which are bound for Spain, but you don’t have to wear one at the airport.

October weather forecast

Spain has experienced some extreme weather this summer. With record temperatures, record rains and flooding in the Canary Islands, drought conditions, and flash floods in Murcia, Spanish weather has been changeable and unpredictable in September.

READ MORE: 640 flights cancelled as storm Hermine hits Spain’s Canary Islands

But what’s the forecast for October?

In terms of temperature, the average temperatures are set to be between 4-7 ° C lower than in September, which saw some of the summer heat linger into Autumn. Despite that, forecasts from Meteored suggest that the coming October will be warmer than usual, with temperatures up to 1 ° C above the average.

Expect some rain too as October is normally one of the rainiest in Spain except for a few regions of the country including the Canary Islands, the Balearics, the southern most points of Andalusia and the Upper Ebro.

Forecasts suggest that the rainfall will be primarily focused in the second half of the month, but the southeast and Balearic Islands will experience average rainfall throughout.

What’s on in Spain in October?

The turn in the weather doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot going on in Spain in October. Zaragoza celebrates one of its main fiestas, the Fiestas del Pilar.

Beteen the 4th and 12th of October, the fiestas of San Froilán de Lugo, one of the most popular celebrations in Galicia also takes place.

October is also a great time for foodies in Spain. Galicia hosts its Fiesta del Marisco (seafood festival) and at the end of the month is Castilla-La-Mancha’s Fiesta de la Rosa del Azafrán.

Elsewhere in Spain, October is an artsy month. In Alcalá de Henares, they celebrate Semana Cervantina – a weeklong celebration of Cervantes, author of Don Quixote, and there’s a nighttime performance of Don Juan in Alcalá.

Fuel prices still high but falling

For drivers, you’ll be pleased to know that petrol prices are steadily falling but still nowhere near the level before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The price of petrol has dropped by 20 percent to €1.70 per litre from the €2.15 price it reached in June (before the government discount) but still 12 percent more expensive than before the war began. Diesel prices have fallen by 15 percent to €1.81 on September 24th, before the government’s 20 percent discount is applied.

READ MORE: REMINDER: How drivers in Spain can get 20 euro cents off every litre of fuel

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