Practical advice on visa requirements, money, security, health, banking and business hours in Spain, public holidays, driving tips, and everything you need to know if you are travelling to Spain with pets. ¡Bienvenido! and have a great trip!
The passport or travel document is always necessary and must be valid for up to three months after the expected date of departure from the Schengen territory, and must have been issued within the previous 10 years to the date of entry. Citizens of the European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland can enter Spain with their national identity document or with their valid and current passport (unaccompanied minors travelling with an identity document must travel with a document certifying their parent or guardian's permission).
Tourists of certain nationalities require a valid visit visa currently in force. The visit visa will not be necessary if the traveller has a residence permit or a long-stay visa issued by a Schengen State.
The authorities may also request that the reason for the trip be indicated and justified with documentation such as a booking for an organised trip, proof that the place of accommodation is real, or a letter of invitation.
In all cases, the tourist must be able to prove the availability of economic resources for the planned stay in Spain and the return or transfer to another country.
The maximum stay in Spain as a tourist is 90 days.
You can consult more information and exceptions on the website of the Ministry of Interior.
Since conditions may vary, we suggest that you contact the Spanish Embassy or Consulate to verify these requirements before you start your trip.
Types of visas and where to get them
Short-stay visas: this is the general visa for tourists and allows them to stay and travel through Spain for 90 days. They are issued by the embassies or consulates of Spain in the country of origin. Visas issued by any member of the Schengen Area are also valid.
Long-stay visas: Required for any foreigner who wants to remain in Spain for more than 90 days, except for citizens of the European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland.
There is also a visa for international teleworkers who meet certain requirements and an airport transit visa required for some third countries.
Visa for international teleworkers (digital nomads)
It grants residence for international teleworking for a maximum period of one year anywhere in Spain. Non-EU citizens can apply for it to carry out work-related activity remotely, exclusively online, for companies located outside of Spain. In the case of self-employed professionals, their telework for companies based in Spain cannot exceed the limit of 20% of their total work-related activity.
The specific requirements to be eligible for this visa are: actual, continuous activity for at least one year for the company or companies for which the individual works; documentary proof that the work can be performed remotely; and an employment or professional relationship in place for at least the last three months preceding the application. Applicants must be qualified professionals who are graduates or postgraduates from universities, reputed vocational training and business schools or have a minimum of three years of professional experience.
When the teleworker is outside of Spain, they must apply for a visa through the Spanish embassies or consulates. If they wish to continue residing in Spain after the visa has expired and they still meet the requirements, they can apply for a residence permit for international remote workers from the Large Business and Strategic Groups Unit (UGE-CE), within 60 calendar days before it expires. This permit is valid for a maximum of three years and can be renewed every two years.
If the teleworker is legally in Spain (on a tourist visa, for example) they can apply directly for a residence permit for three years from the UGE-CE.
There are a number of products which have entry or exit limitations in Spain from outside the European Union, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. These include cultural goods, wild fauna and flora and products derived from these, vegetables and plant products, weapons and ammunition, medicines, tobacco and alcoholic beverages.
Likewise, in the case of tobacco and alcoholic beverages, the amount must be declared and the corresponding taxes must be paid if you are carrying the following amounts or more: 200 cigarettes, 100 cigarillos, 50 cigars, 250 grams of tobacco, 1 litre of alcoholic beverages with a strength of more than 22%, 2 litres of alcoholic beverages with a strength of less than 22%, 4 litres of wine and 16 litres of beer.
In terms of medications, only those necessary for personal use are allowed, and they must be accompanied by a copy of the prescription or medical report.
VAT or value added tax is an indirect tax on the final consumption of products and services. All residents outside the European Union can request a refund of the amount derived from occasional purchases of items for personal use or for gifts.
To recover VAT, you must request the DIVA tax free form at the time of purchase. At the airport or port of departure, you must present the DIVA form on the DIVA automatic machines. You will need to carry your passport with you, plus the invoices and goods for which you request a refund. Finally, you can claim the return from the store where the purchases were made or through tax free management entities. These may include:
Remember that VAT refunds must be requested at the European Union airport or port of departure, and the purchase must have been made no more than three months before departure.
Cash is usually withdrawn from automatic teller machines at bank branches. In addition, in Spain it is easy to find ATMs to withdraw cash in shopping centres and shopping areas, large urban centres and historic centres in small towns.
If you need to change your money to €, you will be able to do so at bureaus de change, at various banks, and at the majority of hotels and travel agencies.
If you need to send money from Spain or receive money that has been sent to Spain, you can do so from the Spanish postal and parcel service offices (Correos office), which you will find in any tourist destination, and through specialised companies in large cities.
In Spain you can pay in cash in almost all cases, and usually only Euros are accepted. In some cases, if the payment is made through a machine, it may be necessary to pay by card.
The option to pay with credit and debit cards, mainly Visa and Mastercard, is very widespread. However, a minimum consumption of around €10 may be required for payment by card and this may be subject to commissions depending on the conditions of your card.
When making payments, it is not acceptable to haggle the marked price.
Spain is one of the safest countries in the world. As in any other country, there are minimum safety measures based on theft prevention. In this regard, it is advisable to only carry with you the money that you will need, to pay attention at times when there are large crowds of people in transport or shopping centres, and to avoid passing through empty places.
The emergency telephone number is 112. It is free to call, and available throughout Spain. The emergency services can track the location of the call, and there is a tele-translation service in multiple languages.
AlertCops is a free mobile application that anyone, regardless of their language, origin or hearing or vocal disabilities, can use to notify law enforcement authorities of an alert, information, data or news about a crime or security incident that they are a victim of or witness to. The Alertcops app is a complementary channel to contact the Spanish “Policía Nacional” or “Guardia Civil” quickly, discreetly and efficiently. The app is available in English, French, German, Italian, Russian and Spanish.
Emergency treatment is guaranteed for everyone and is provided in hospitals and some health centres. Care at private centres will always be charged. We recommend always travelling with international medical insurance, especially if you are not a citizen of the European Union, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, Lichtenstein or a country with a bilateral healthcare agreement with Spain that covers assistance.
Medical care for illness or accident is free to citizens of the European Union, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein as long as they have a European Health Card (EHIC) and the reason for the trip is not to seek specific medical treatment. If you forget your EHIC, you will have to pay all the costs and request reimbursement back in your country. If you require scheduled medical treatment, this must be authorised by the competent institution in your country of origin. In all cases, dental treatment (with the exception of extractions) are excluded, and repatriation the in case of illness.
Andorra, Chile, Morocco, Peru and Tunisia have bilateral agreements with Spain that guarantee medical and hospital care to their citizens in Spain. However, you will need to have the appropriate certificate issued in your country of origin. If you forget your certificate, you will have to pay all the costs and request reimbursement back in your country. Here you can consult the different bilateral agreements with Spain on healthcare.
UK citizens will be covered by the Spanish National Health System. It is envisaged that the UK European Health Insurance Card (UK EHIC) or the Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) will provide this coverage. Find more information in the Brexit info section.
In Spain, medicines are purchased from chemists. You will see these in the streets with the green crosses. If you come from a European country or a country that has a healthcare agreement with Spain, you'll be eligible for the same pharmaceutical services as Spaniards.
In Spain, smoking is prohibited in all enclosed public areas (including public or collective transport vehicles).
It is also prohibited to smoke in healthcare facilities (including outdoor areas that are part of their premises), educational or training centres (except in outdoor spaces in universities and adult education centres) and playgrounds and play areas (outdoor spaces equipped for children).
Many hotels and other establishments have rooms for smokers. These must be in separate areas with separate ventilation.
In Spain there is a growing awareness of Celiac Disease and the importance of providing gluten-free food. Therefore, more and more hotels, restaurants, campsites, parks and recreation centres are prepared for the needs of people with celiac disease. You can find a list of them on the official website of the Spanish Federation of Associations of people with celiac disease. In turn, the Federation recommends that tourists who do not speak Spanish carry a piece of paper with this text written on it.
“I’m a celiac. If I eat any kind of food containing wheat, rye, barley, oats, kamut, spelt or triticale, it can make me ill. This includes flour, bread, pasta, croquettes, sweets, sauces, and some cured meats. Celiacs can eat meat, fish, eggs, pulses, fruit, vegetables, rice, maize, soya, and also potatoes. These products should be cooked without flour, boiled, grilled, barbecued or served raw. If you have any questions during the preparation of the meal, please let me know. Thank you.”
If your mobile phone account was contracted in the European Union, in Spain you will be able to connect to the Internet under the same conditions and at your normal rate. You may need to activate the roaming service through your operator. In some cases, the operator may limit consumption.
For mobile phone numbers from outside the European Union, connecting to the Internet involves an extra charge on top of the normal rate, which depends on the operator. A good option could be purchasing a prepaid SIM card with a data allowance that meets your needs.
Also, in Spain you will find Wi-Fi connections available in hotels, shops, leisure centres, restaurants and some public buildings, such as libraries. In many cases, the connection is free. In others, there is a charge depending on the time spent connected.
If your mobile phone account was contracted in the European Union, your normal rate will apply in Spain. You may need to activate the roaming service through your operator.
For phone calls from mobile phones contracted outside the European Union, each call will have a surcharge on top of the normal rate, which depends on the operator. Two good options are to purchase a prepaid SIM card with minutes for calls from a mobile phone, or to purchase separate calling cards that you can use from any phone. If you opt for a SIM card, remember that the phone must have GSM technology.
In big cities, there are also many telephone boxes from which you can make international calls.
Remember that to phone another country from Spain you must first dial 00 and then the country code of the destination country. Spain’s code is “34” and it must also be dialled when phoning Spain from abroad from any telephone. Calls within Spain do not require a code and all phone numbers have nine digits.
Sockets meet European regulations and use the round pin system. However, most hotels have adaptors for different plugs.
Electricity supply in Spain is AC 220 volts, 50 Hertz. Always check that the electrical apparatuses that you are going to use work on this voltage.
There are three general rules: animals should be accompanied by their owners or representatives, must be duly identified and must have their accompanying animal health certificate, which should include a copy written in Spanish. In most cases, pets must be identified with a legible tattoo or microchip.
Also, if you have a puppy, remember that it cannot travel with you if it is under three months old and is therefore not vaccinated for rabies. It can also not travel until 21 days after the first vaccination.
You can find more details by clicking on the following links to the official website of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. travelling with pets and animal health regulations applicable when entering spain eith your pet.
When in Spain, it is advisable to remember that pets are normally not allowed into restaurants. In the case of dogs, it is more usual for them to be allowed on the terrace. In some cases they might need to have a muzzle or be tied up. When looking for accommodation, we recommend that, when making your booking, you check that you can have your pet with you.
On public transport in most cities in Spain, small pets generally can travel if they are in a carrier. Dogs weighing over 10 kilogrammes have more limited access in almost all cases. If you travel by train, on high-speed and long-distance trains a ticket is required for the animal even if it is not occupying a seat.
In all cases, these rules of toleration apply if there is no opposition from other customers and there are no disturbances.
To give a general idea:
You can get usually get breakfast at any time between 07:00 and 12:00.
Between 12:00 and 14:00, it is very typical to go for a drink or have some tapas with friends. Basically, people get together to have a drink before eating.
Restaurants tend to serve lunch between 13:00 and 16:00 and dinner between 20:00 and 23:30. In big cities and during the summer it is normal for dinner to be served until 23.30.
The normal check-in time for hotels tends to start at 14:00 and check-out times end at 12:00.
The norm is for shops to open continuously from 10:00 to 21:00. At times, they close between 14:00 and 17:00, especially in summer.
Theatre productions, concerts and shows tend to start between 20:00 and 21:00. In summer, performance start times can be later, even as late as 22:00 or 23:00.
Public buses in big cities tend to run between 06:00 and 23:00, and the Metro tends to run later. A night service usually runs between 23:30 and 06:00.
Sunday is the normal day for shops and businesses to close.
Certain dates are designated public holidays in Spain, and these may be national, regional or local.
The following are the national public holidays for 2023:
6 January, Epiphany.
7 April, Good Friday.
1 May, Workers' Day.
15 August, Assumption.
12 October, National Day of Spain.
1 November, All Saints Day.
6 December, Day of Spanish Constitution.
8 December, Immaculate Conception.
25 December, Christmas Day.
If you are taking your car, you must find out if your driving licence is valid to drive in Spain, whether you must exchange it or if you need to obtain the International Permit.
Permits issued in countries of the European Union and the European Economic Area (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) are fully valid to drive in Spain as long as they are in force.
If you come from any other country, it is a good idea to get an international driving permit in your country before you travel. This permit is valid for one year and is complementary. So, whenever you are going to use it, you must also present your passport and your foreign driving license.
More information on other valid permits for driving in Spain.
Also, keep in mind that the minimum driving age in Spain is 18 years old.
Also, remember that it is absolutely necessary to have valid international insurance. If you're from the European Union, Switzerland, Great Britain, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Andorra, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia or Montenegro you'll need to have your insurance policy with you, together with the payment receipt demonstrating its validity. If you're from Albania, Azerbaijan, Byelorussia, Iran, Israel, Macedonia, Morocco, Moldova, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine or Russia you must get a Green Card or International Civil Liability Insurance Certificate. For all other cases, it will be necessary to take out Border Insurance.
Since conditions may vary, we suggest that you contact the Spanish Embassy or Consulate to verify these requirements before you start your trip.
To rent a vehicle in Spain, you must be at least 21 years old and have a valid driving licence. Many companies also require you to have had your driving licence for a minimum of one or two years. To complete the car hire process, you will need a credit card.
Remember that if more than one person is going to drive, the others must appear as additional drivers on the contract. Also, the rate tends to be higher for those under the age of 25.
In Spain, it is usual for rental cars to have manual transmission and the rate for those with automatic transmission tend to be higher.
It is forbidden to talk on a mobile phone without a hands-free device or to handle one while driving.
Overtaking can only be done on the left side of the car which you wish to pass.
Children under 135 centimetres in height cannot sit in the front seat and they must always use an approved restraint system. It is recommended to use a restraint system with a back until the child is over 150 centimetres tall. These instructions also apply to taxis, so if you want to travel with a baby in a taxi, you must carry an approved restraint system.
Don't drink and drive. Your blood alcohol levels must not exceed 0.5 g/l (0.25 mg/l in exhaled air).
Helmets must be worn on motorbikes, mopeds and bicycles.
Parking in public thoroughfares is not always permitted or free. In many cities the parking areas are regulated and subject to payment. Normally these can be identified by the presence of parking meters in the vicinity.
In Spain, the vast majority of roads in the national network are free to use. These include motorways (independent roads in each direction and with no intersections at the same level).
Nevertheless, there is a series of roads that may require the payment of a toll. These are the motorways. The cost varies in each case, but there are generally alternative routes that are free to use.
You can find out which motorways require toll payment on this website.
Tolls may be paid in cash, by credit card or using electronic toll services (requires the installation of a device in the car)
Traffic violations sanctioned in the Road Safety Act must always be paid. There are two possibilities when you receive a traffic fine:
If you are notified of the penalty at the time of the offence and the Guardia Civil (Civil Guard) is involved, you can pay the fine to the officer, by credit or debit card.
If you are informed of the fine by post, you will have various options to pay:
1. By phone 060 (from Spain): This service is only available in Spanish. Payment is made by credit card. If phoning from abroad, the contact number is +34 902887060.
2. By Internet: through the Spanish General Directorate of Traffic
3. In person:
In branches of La Caixa (Caixabank).
In Correos post offices, subject to an additional fee of 1.50% of the value of the fine.
In the offices of the Provincial Traffic Offices by credit or debit card.
4. If you live abroad, you can also pay by bank transfer. If you have any questions or queries about traffic fines, contact the DGT helpline on +34 987 010 559.
Remember: there is a 50% reduction in the fine if you pay within 20 calendar days.
Are you thinking of enjoying your trip on board your own or a rented boat? In Spain, you can sail on board a catamaran, in a yacht or in a motorboat... Here's some basic advice that will help you know whether you need a sailing license and if there are any other requirements.
Generally, you will not need a recreational boating certificate to go out to a maximum distance of 2 miles from the coast if you do so in a boat with a maximum power of 11.26 kW and up to 5 metres in length. You also will not need one if the boat is a sailboat and it is not over 6 metres in length. In all cases, you must be at least 18 years of age.
A boating certificate is required if the boat exceeds the preceding characteristics. It is also required for piloting watercraft.
If you go in your own boat, remember that insurance is mandatory and that you must have documents proving its registration in the country of origin and its ownership.
If you are renting a boat and your boating certificate was not issued in Spain, you will need a permit from the competent Harbour Master certifying that the foreign certificate is valid for that boat. This procedure normally takes place through the rental company.
*Information on this page provided by the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism.