Road Conditions and Safety: Road conditions in Spain can differ significantly from those in the United States. Drivers and pedestrians should exercise increased caution, as traffic in Madrid and Barcelona is often faster-paced than in the United States and can be unnerving because of unfamiliar signs and traffic lights and different driving habits, including motorbikes weaving between traffic lanes.
- Obey the traffic light located at your stop line, as there are separate traffic lights for each side of the intersection. Be alert when driving at night in urban areas; you may encounter drivers or pedestrians under the influence of alcohol.
- Night driving in isolated rural areas can be dangerous because of farm animals and poorly marked roads.
- Rural traffic is generally heavier in July and August as well as during the Christmas and Easter seasons.
- Emergency services, including roadside assistance, are plentiful, competent, and can be easily accessed by dialing 112 from any phone.
- You must obtain an International Driving Permit prior to your arrival if you plan to drive in Spain. The permits are only valid for one year.
- It is illegal to rent a vehicle if you don?t have an International Driving Permit. Your rental car may be impounded, and you will be required to pay a fine if stopped by the police.
- It is against the law to use a mobile phone without a hands-free device while driving. There is a ?300 fine for violating this regulation, and you may also lose your license.
- All drivers and passengers are required to wear a reflective vest if they need to stop on the roadside. A reflective triangle warning sign is also mandatory if you stop on the roadside.
- You must have liability insurance to operate any car or motorcycle.
- If you are stopped by the Spanish National Police or the Guardia Civil, they may levy fines on the spot and issue a receipt for payment. This ensures that foreigners pay their fines while still in Spain.
Public Transportation: Public transportation in large Spanish cities is generally excellent.
- Only use clearly identified cabs, ensure that taxi drivers always switch on the meter (except for fixed-fare trips originating to and from the Madrid airport), and ask for a receipt.
- Private transportation companies (such as Uber or Cabify) are often used in Madrid and Barcelona but check private transportation websites for operating status before arrival.
- Official taxis to and from the Madrid airport to the city center charge a ?30 flat rate.
- Rail service is comfortable and reliable but varies in quality and speed. Intercity buses are usually comfortable and inexpensive.
See our Road Safety page for more information.
Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Spain?s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Spain?s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA?s safety assessment page.
Maritime Travel: Mariners planning travel to Spain should also check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts. Information may also be posted to the U.S. Coast Guard homeport website and the NGA broadcast warnings.
Please visit the Embassy’s COVID-19 page for more information on COVID-19 in Spain.
Good medical care is available in Spain. However, regulations regarding medications vary from those in the United States. Spanish regulations do not permit the international shipment of medication; do not ship or import medication from the United States to Spain. Spanish customs authorities will reject and return to the shipper medication mailed from the United States. This may cause a significant delay in receiving your medications.
Medications requiring prescriptions in the United States also require a local doctor?s prescription in Spain. In some instances, a medicine prescribed in the United States will not have a local equivalent. It is important that travelers research this on the European Agency for Medication website prior to travel.
For emergency services in Spain, dial 112.
Ambulance services are widely available.
The U.S. government does not pay medical bills for private U.S. citizens. Be aware that U.S. Medicare/Medicaid does not apply overseas. Most hospitals and doctors overseas do not accept U.S. health insurance.
Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage. Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more information on type of insurance you should consider before you travel overseas.
We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.
Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor?s prescription. Check with the Spain Medication Agency to ensure the medication is legal in Spain.
Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Further health information:
Air Quality: Visit AirNow Department of State for information on air quality at U.S. Embassies and Consulates.
The U.S. Embassy maintains a list of doctors and hospitals. We do not endorse or recommend any specific medical provider or clinic.
Health facilities in general
- Adequate health facilities are available throughout the country.
- Private hospitals usually require advance payment or proof of adequate insurance before admitting a patient.
- Medical staff may speak little or no English.
- Patients may be asked to bear costs for transfer to or between hospitals.
- Exercise caution when purchasing medication overseas. Pharmaceuticals, both over the counter and requiring prescription in the United States, may be readily available for purchase with little controls. Counterfeit medication is common and may prove to be ineffective, the wrong strength, or contain dangerous ingredients. Medication should be purchased in consultation with a medical professional and from reputable establishments.
- U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Food and Drug Administration are responsible for rules governing the transport of medication back to the United States. Medication purchased abroad must meet their requirements to be legally brought back into the United States. Medication should be for personal use and must be approved for usage in the United States. Please visit the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Food and Drug Administration websites for more information.
Assisted Reproductive Technology and Surrogacy
- If you are considering traveling to Spain to have a child through use of assisted reproductive technology (ART) or surrogacy, please see our ART and Surrogacy Abroad page.
- Surrogacy is illegal in Spain and subject to complex local regulation.
Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for more information about Adventure Travel.
Local laws and Special Circumstances
Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Individuals establishing a business or practicing a profession that requires additional permits or licensing should seek information from the competent local authorities, prior to practicing or operating a business.
- Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking illegal drugs in Spain are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.
- Most cities in Spain have banned the consumption of alcohol in the street, other than in registered street cafes and bars. You could be arrested or fined if you break the law.
- Local police, sometimes dressed in plain clothes, can require you to produce identification to establish your identity upon request and detain you for further questioning. In some cases, a copy of your passport may serve as sufficient identification if you do not feel comfortable carrying your actual passport. If you choose to carry your passport with you, remember this also increases the risk that it could be lost or stolen.
- If you are stopped by someone who claims to be a plainclothes policeman, ask to see their law enforcement identification.
Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police to notify the U.S. Embassy Madrid or U.S. Consulate General Barcelona immediately. See our webpage for further information.
Counterfeit and Pirated Goods: Although counterfeit and pirated goods are prevalent in many countries, they may still be illegal according to local laws. You may also have to pay fines or have to give them up if you bring them back to the United States. See the U.S. Department of Justice website for more information.
Faith-Based Travelers: See the following webpages for details:
- Faith-Based Travel Information
- International Religious Freedom Report ? see country reports
- Human Rights Report ? see country reports
- Hajj Fact Sheet for Travelers
- Best Practices for Volunteering Abroad
LGBTI Travelers: There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI events in Spain.
Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance. Spanish law mandates access to buildings for persons with disabilities. The Spanish government generally enforces these provisions; levels of assistance and accessibility vary across Spain.
- Madrid, Barcelona, and many other major cities have made great strides in making public transportation, museums, and other public buildings accessible to those with physical disabilities.
- Most buses have ramps to accommodate wheelchairs, and many metro stations have elevators; taxis that can accommodate wheelchairs are available, but generally must be booked in advance.
- In historic areas and in some other areas, sidewalks can be narrow and have uneven surfaces. Take this into account when planning your visit.
Students and Athletes: Follow the tips below and exercise caution and good judgment to make your study-abroad experience a positive and safe one. If you are coming to Spain to participate in a sports program, please check with the Embassy of Spain that you have the correct visa.
- Do your research before contracting a tour operator or other service provider, including coaches and organizers of sports camps, schools, and training centers.
- Exercise caution when agreeing to an internship or to serve as a recruiter for a specific organization or company.
- The majority of arrests, accidents, and violent crimes U.S. citizens suffer in Spain involve excessive alcohol. Drink in moderation and stay in a group of friends when in clubs, bars, or traveling.
- If you have questions or want to report an incident, contact the nearest U.S. consular office in Spain for assistance.
Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers
Sexual Assault: The U.S. Mission in Spain has received numerous reports of sexual assaults affecting U.S. citizens, especially younger travelers, students, and exchange teachers. Please see more information under Safety and Security.
Safety and Security
Terrorism: Terrorist groups and those inspired by such organizations are intent on encouraging or conducting attacks worldwide, including within Europe. Terrorists are increasingly using less sophisticated methods of attack ? including knives, firearms, and vehicles ? to more effectively target crowds. Frequently, their aim is unprotected or vulnerable targets, such as:
- High-profile public events (sporting contests, political rallies, demonstrations, holiday events, celebratory gatherings, etc.)
- Hotels, clubs, and restaurants frequented by tourists
- Places of worship
- Shopping malls and markets
- Public transportation systems (including subways, buses, trains, and scheduled commercial flights)
Spain?s open borders with its Western European neighbors allow the possibility for terrorists to enter and exit the country anonymously. Additionally, Spain?s enclaves in Melilla and Ceuta on the North African coast allow for entry into Spain from the African continent. Spain has taken robust actions to guard against terrorist attacks, including arrests of suspected extremists allegedly involved in terrorist plots. Credible information indicates terrorist groups continue to plot potential attacks in Europe, including Spain.
For more information, see our Terrorism page.
Crime: Street crimes against U.S. citizens usually occur in the principal tourist areas across Spain. U.S. citizens have reported pickpocketing, theft, and sexual assault, and occasionally other violent attacks. Some attacks have required the victim to seek medical attention.
- Use common sense and the same personal security measures you would normally use in a large U.S. city or tourist destination. Exercise the same caution as you would in any unfamiliar area or with unfamiliar people.
- Sexual Assault: The U.S. Mission in Spain has received numerous reports of sexual assaults affecting U.S. citizens, especially younger travelers, students, and exchange teachers.
- Navigating the Spanish criminal justice system after surviving a sexual assault has been extremely difficult for many U.S. citizen victims, who report feeling judged and re-victimized throughout the very lengthy process.
- Although it is not required, many U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault in Spain have found it helpful to hire a local attorney to be their advocate and defend their rights during any judicial process.
- There have been numerous reports alleging sexual assaults against U.S. citizen students by Manuel Blanco Vela, a representative of a tour operator based in Seville, Spain. Conduct research online to determine who owns and operates tour companies to make informed choices.
- Many sexual assaults occur at night or during the early morning hours. In most cases, assailants take advantage of alcohol or drugs to make victims more vulnerable.
- Do not leave bags unattended. Keep them in sight and avoid placing passports, cash, cell phones, or other valuables in the outer pockets of backpacks or purses or on tables in public places. Do not leave bags slung over the backs of chairs, on hotel or store counters, on top of your suitcase or travel bag, or out of your physical control in hotel lobbies, car rental locations, train stations, restaurants, and other public places. Avoid carrying your passport unless needed for travel, especially in tourist areas. Instead, carry a photocopy or photo of your passport?s biographical information page and consider leaving your passport in a secure location, such as a hotel safe.
- Be alert to criminal schemes. Thieves often work in teams to distract your attention. For example, someone may ask you for directions, ask whether you have dropped cash on the ground, offer to help clean liquid off of you, or inform you that your car has a flat tire. While you are engaged in conversation, an accomplice makes off with your valuables. If you are stopped by someone who claims to be a plainclothes policeman while walking or driving, ask to see their law enforcement identification.
Demonstrations occur frequently. They may take place in response to political or economic issues, on politically significant holidays, and during international events.
- Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly become violent.?
- Avoid areas around protests and demonstrations.?
- Check local media for updates and traffic advisories.
Tourism: The tourism industry is generally regulated, and rules [with regards to best practices and safety inspections] are regularly enforced. Hazardous areas/activities are identified with appropriate signage, and professional staff is typically on hand in support of organized activities. In the event of an injury, appropriate medical treatment is widely available throughout the country. Outside of a major metropolitan center, it may take more time for first responders and medical professionals to stabilize a patient and provide life-saving assistance. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
Internet romance and financial scams are prevalent in Spain. Scams are often initiated through Internet postings/profiles or by unsolicited emails and letters. Scammers almost always pose as U.S. citizens who have no one else to turn to for help. Common scams include:
- Romance/Online dating
- Money transfers
- Grandparent/Relative targeting
- Free Trip/Luggage
- Inheritance notices
- Work permits/Job offers
Victims of Crime: U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault are encouraged to contact the U.S. Embassy or the nearest consular office for assistance. Report crimes to the local police at 112 and contact the U.S. Embassy at (34) 91-587-2200. Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crime.
See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.
- Help you find appropriate medical care
- Assist you in reporting a crime to the police
- Contact relatives or friends with your written consent
- Provide general information regarding the victim?s role during the local investigation and following its conclusion
- Provide a list of local attorneys
- Provide information on victim?s compensation programs in the United States
- Provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution
- Help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
- Replace a stolen or lost passport
Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence should call the toll-free emergency number in Spain, 016, for assistance, and the U.S. Embassy in Madrid at (34) 91-587-2200 or U.S. Consulate General Barcelona at (+34) 93-280-2227. Remember that the local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crimes. For more information, see https://violenciagenero.igualdad.gob.es/.
Entry exit Requirementsh
U.S. citizens traveling to Spain are subject to COVID-19 entry restrictions. Please visit the Embassy’s COVID-19 page for more information on the specific entry/exit requirements.
Spain is a party to the Schengen Agreement. This means that U.S. citizens may enter Spain for up to 90 days for tourism or business without a visa. Your passport should be valid for at least three months beyond the period of stay. You must have sufficient funds and a return airline ticket. Visit the Embassy of Spain website for the most current visa information.
Traveling Through Europe: If you are planning to visit, transit and/or travel through European countries, you should be familiar with the requirements of the Schengen Agreement.
- Your passport should be valid for at least three months beyond the period of stay. If you plan on transiting a Schengen country, review our U.S. Travelers in Europe page.
- You will need sufficient proof of funds and a return plane ticket.
- For additional information about visas for the Schengen area, see the Schengen Visa page.
Students and athletes: Students, prospective students, and athletes should visit the Embassy of Spain website for additional information on entry requirements. You should not travel to Spain as a student or for an athletic/study program without the appropriate Spanish visa. U.S. citizen students and athletes have been denied entry and held in immigration detention at Spanish airports awaiting return flights to the United States because they lacked the appropriate visa. If your coach or sponsoring program says that you do not require a visa to study, play for a sports team, or participate in a sports training program in Spain, you should confirm this information with the nearest Spanish consulate in the United States before you travel.
U.S. citizen minors living in Spain: Spanish law mandates that all Spanish minors traveling internationally without their parents or legal guardians must have written notarized permission from a parent or guardian. The law also applies to foreign, minor residents if their country of nationality also requires parental permission. While U.S. law does not require minors traveling without a parent/guardian to have the parents?/guardians? written permission, Spanish authorities and airlines have occasionally misinterpreted the law and stopped U.S. citizens minors from departing the country. Therefore, parents/legal guardians should consider preparing a notarized, written permission for their U.S. citizen minor children to travel abroad unaccompanied or with a third party.
HIV/AIDS restrictions: The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Spain.
See the Department of State?s Fact Sheet on Spain for information on U.S. ? Spain relations.
Travel Embassy and Consulate
U.S. Consulate General Barcelona
Paseo Reina Elisenda de Montcada, 23
08034 Barcelona, Spain
Telephone: (34) 93-280-2227
Emergency after-hours telephone: (34) 91-587-2200
Fax: (34) 93-280-6175
U.S. Consular Agency Fuengirola (M?laga)
Avenida Juan G?mez "Juanito", 8
Edificio Luc?a 1?-C
29640 Fuengirola (M?laga), Spain
Telephone: (34) 95-247-4891
Fax: (34) 95-246-5189
U.S. Consular Agency Las Palmas
Calle Los Martinez de Escobar 3, Oficina 7
35007 Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, Spain
Telephone: (34) 92-827-1259
Fax: (34) 92-822-5863