Types of Roads in Spain
Understand the types of roads in Spain and the speed limits that apply on them...
Spain's road system is made up of motorways and main trunk roads. Numbering systems were updated in 2004 for clarity, and maps produced before this date may not be accurate.
Motorways (autopistas) are marked with and A or E and the road number. Toll roads (autopistas de peage) are marked with AP and the road number. Exits (salidas) are numbered.
Main Trunk Roads
- Dual Carriageways (autovias) are marked with an E and the road number. They do not always have a central reservation between lanes
- National highways (carreteras nacionales) are marked with N or CN and the road number
- Country Roads (carreteras comarcales) are marked with a C and the road number
Other Useful Information
- On major roads, orange-coloured emergency telephones are placed at 5 Km intervals
- Cyclists must use bike paths (indicated with a round with a white bicycle symbol against a blue background) where available. Other vehicles are prohibited to use this lane
- Lanes may be designated for the use of vehicles with high occupation only (carriles para vehiculos de alta ocupacion, VAO). Drivers can use these lanes if their vehicle weighs less than 3,500 Kg and carries the signalled minimum number of occupants
- Overtaking is prohibited on roads marked with an unbroken white line between the lanes
Using Toll Roads
To use toll roads, drivers take a ticket on entering the toll road system and pay at an exit booth. Toll fees vary depending on the location and can be higher at peak times. Payment can be made in cash or by credit or debit card. When paying by card, drivers should use the exit marked “Vias Automaticas”.
Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) is available on almost all Spanish toll roads. Designed for frequent users, cars fitted with an On Board Unit can move through the tolls without stopping. Payment is taken directly from the associated bank account or card.
- For more information on ETC in Spain, and to set up an account: Click here (in Spanish)
- For a list of toll roads and corresponding fees: Click here (in Spanish)
Different minimum and maximum speed limits are set according to different types of road. Speed limits may be lower on some roads and will be signposted. Minimum speed limits are indicated on a round blue sign. Maximum speed limits are indicated on a round sign with a red border. On motorways, speed limits may also be indicated on overhead electronic signs.
- Motorway or toll roads: 60 Km/h minimum, 120 Km/h maximum
- Main trunk roads (roads with a paved verge of 1.5m or more in width, or with more than one lane): 50 Km/h minimum, 100 Km/h maximum
- Other main trunk roads: 45 Km/h minimum, 90 Km/h maximum
- Urban areas: 25 Km/h minimum, 50 Km/h maximum
Speed cameras and traffic police surveillance teams ensure that drivers stay within the speed limits. Speed-detecting radars are signposted, but random control points are not.
Speeding fines may be given in person by a traffic official or sent to the address of the registered owner of the vehicle. The police may choose to impound the vehicle on the spot if the driver is found to be under the influence of alcohol or to have committed a severe driving offence, such as driving without a licence.
Fines which are paid within 20 days of being issued benefit from a 50 percent reduction. Within the same 15-day period drivers may contest the fine, but those who chose to do this will lose their right to a reduction. Fines can be paid at post offices (Correos), local traffic departments, by telephone (with a credit/debit card) or through the Traffic Department (Dirección General de Tráfico, DGT) website.
- For further details of the licence points deducted and fines for passing speed limit: Click here (PDF, in Spanish)
- For road maps and traffic information from RACE: Click here (in Spanish)
- For road maps and traffic information from the DGT: Click here (in Spanish)