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International drivers permit for Spain?

I just read that I need an international drivers permit for Spain for renting a car in Barcelona. How to I get that? Hopefully on line as we leave in 2 days! Also.. Best car hire advice is appreciated...Thank you.
Mb

Posted by
195 posts

you can get it at your local AAA office. I believe you have to do it in person, but I may be wrong. Costs about 15 bucks. If you need them to take a passport-like photo for the IDL, it'll cost you another 5. Good luck.

Posted by
2555 posts

Mary, on a different chord... may I inquiry why you want to rent a car in Barcelona? By all means, I don't want to pry on your choices, it's just that too often visitors, especially from the States think they're going to need a car to visit the city... and in fact you don't: parking is bloody expensive, you'll have to fight for a spot, driving is quite unnerving for people not used to this sort of traffic density (except if you're a NYer!), public transportation (bus/metro) is really great and inexpensive and Barcelona has several neighbourhoods in which walking is a must.
If you intend to visit the country-side, that'll depend where you want to go, for many destination there's either train or buses which are efficient and convenient, yet if you want to make a route a car is indeed then more convenient.

Posted by
1101 posts

Go to AAA office with a passport photo, they can take a photo if you do not have one, bring your drivers license and passport. Cost without buying a photo is $20. Takes less then 30 minutes to complete the process.
Cost of fine for not having the IDP is 200 euros to be paid in cash at the spot of the violation.

Posted by
19 posts

Thank you all for your comments... darn... we don't have a AAA office where I live and we are leaving on Memorial Day so we are kind of screwed. Our destination is Alquezar, about 2 hours outside of Barcelona.... We are not even planning on going into Barcelona. A bus or train would be fine but I don't think there is one going that way. If anyone knows of alternate way to get to Alquezar... let me know. Thanks!

Posted by
2555 posts

... two hours from Barcelona?... Alquezar is not even in Catalonia anymore!... It's more than two hours for sure, moreover taking into account the last stretch is on county roads. There's a pleasant motorway (A-2) to Lleida, the most western part of Catalonia, then you cross into Aragon and you must take the A-22 motorway to Lascellas, and from there a tiny road A-1229 to Adahuesca, and then the A-1233. I hope you're not visiting in winter, it can be a nightmare if it's snowed.

There's no direct bus from Barcelona to Alquezar --it's far too small to be linked, even to the capital of Aragon: Zaragona. There is one to Barbastro -which is a much bigger town- and from there might be some sort of local service to Alquezar -sorry don't know for sure. Note however it makes a long detour as it goes first to Tarragona, 100km south of Barcelona and then heads north west to Barbastro, in all is a 310km (nearly 200mi) route. Also, there's a bus transfer implied in Tarragona. Check www.alsa.es if you want, and choose "National services".

But I definitively don't recommend going by bus since when you get to Alquezar you'll be "stuck" without a car, and precisely the must-do in the area is to visit the wonderful mountains and valleys of this province, especially the National Park of Sierra y Cañones de Guara, located at the doorstep of the village which has some breath-taking limestone gorges http://www.rednaturaldearagon.com/default.aspx?FolderID=58

Btw, just in case you didn't know, this is the website of Alquezar's townhall: http://www.alquezar.es you might want to email them for specific questions.

Don't expect much people speaking English in that area, it's very rural and most tourism is regional.

PS: Girl, I'm sure there's gotta be a veeery powerful reason to cross the Atlantic just to end up in such remote place, hahaha!

Posted by
23 posts

I have rented cars in France, Portugal, Italy and England and was NEVER asked for an international drivers license when renting (although I had one because I am a belt & suspenders type of person.) Even had a fender bender in Italy and the police wouldn't even come if there were no casualties.

Posted by
2555 posts

As per the need for an international drivers permit, the Spanish Law allows foreign visitors touring the country (< 6 months) to drive using their national permits if these are issued in line with the annex 9th of the Geneva Convention or the annex 6th of the Vienna Convention, or else with an international drivers permit. Source: http://www.eleconomista.es/ecomotor/motor/noticias/6272203/11/14/Conducir-en-Espana-siendo-extranjero-como-obtener-el-permiso-segun-el-origen.html

How the heck do I know if my national permit is in line with those annexes??... good question, I can't help there though, LOL! Having said that, since both the Geneva and the Vienna conventions are widely adopted across the world by many countries I'd suspect your US license would suffice to drive anywhere in Europe. But again, ask the Spanish embassy in Washington to be sure -or your local AAA can also help here as pointed earlier.

Update: yet I just found this from the US Embassy in Madrid and it states you do need an IDP (wtf!)
http://madrid.usembassy.gov/citizen-services/information-for-travelers/traveling-to-spain.html

Posted by
4522 posts

To be very clear, an International Drivers Permit is REQUIRED to legally drive in Spain. Period! Only AAA is the authorized agent in the US to provide the IDP. It is not some kind of scam or money maker for AAA and they did not come up with the idea. Each nation is allowed to set it's own laws for whether the IDP is required as a supplement to your domestic drivers license and Spain has chosen to do that.

Often the rental agencies don't much care if you have one and don't often ask to see it. But they are not the ones that enforce it. If you are pulled over, stopped at a checkpoint or involved in an accident, the police may very well ask to see it (don't take someone else's experience in a completely different country as guidance). If you don't have it, you can face fines and/or may not be allowed to continue driving.

And keep this in mind when deciding whether to risk it: English is not well spoken in much of Spain and especially amongst older and middle-aged people. You stand a good chance of encountering a police officer in rural Spain that will not speak English. And ask yourself whether any insurance coverage will still be valid if you receive a ticket for not having one after an accident.

I'm sorry for the bad news, but those are the things to know and think about.

Posted by
2555 posts

I disagree Douglas.... this is an international forum, hence many members are not from the US and your opening assertion might get people confused: an IDP is NOT required for all foreigners to legally drive in Spain.

It might or might not be for US citizens, for not for other foreigners/visitors, either from EU countries or from South American countries for example. As I point out earlier Spanish law says what it says. And as per what the US embassy website in Madrid is saying, it might well be the US does not comply with the international standards as mentioned above, hence your licenses might not be valid in many countries -which I find odd anyway.

Posted by
2555 posts

I don't want too unnecessarily prolong this discussion but I'm arguing that an IPD is NOT needed for ALL foreign drivers in Spain as Douglas seems to imply. This is a rather global forum, so not everybody reading this post is necessarily a US/Canadian citizen. RS has Asian, Australian and Europeans readers and from other shores too and the need for an IDP might not apply to some of them as there are plenty of transnational agreements. I myself haven't needed it in many of my trips.

Posted by
31256 posts

Enric,

Given the very small cost and ease of obtaining an I.D.P., I tend to take the attitude that even if it's not "officially" required it's still a good thing to have in case one encounters the type of Police mentioned in the link I provided in my previous post. Better safe than sorry!

Posted by
19 posts

Thanks everyone for your comments... We went to a AAA office before our flight this morning and got our IDPs! Now we are covered whether it is necessary or not! Next question...do we need to get rental car insurances? Our credit card says we're covered if we decline all insurances so I think that's what we'll do... On our way soon... Flight leaves in one hour.

Thanks again for all of your replies.
Mary

Posted by
1101 posts

Your choice, but we always rely only on our credit card provided insurance. Do take lots of photos of the interior and exterior of the car prior to leaving the lot. Safe travels!