Spain / Practical guidelines

General Information

The Capital

With 3,2 million inhabitants - not counting suburbs - Madrid is considered the third largest city of the European Union and the largest city in southern Europe. The town is part of the historic landscape of Castile and is surrounded by the Meseta, the plateau of Castile.


US Consulates

For an emergency involving an American citizen outside of normal business hours (Spain is six hours ahead of the U.S. East Coast), please call +34-91-587-2200. All consular offices in Spain are open Monday through Friday, except for U.S. and Spanish holidays. 

U.S. Embassy Madrid
Calle de Serrano, 75
28006 Madrid
Phone: 0034 91 587 2200

U.S. Consulate General Barcelona
Paseo Reina Elisenda de Montcada, 23
08034 Barcelona
Phone: 0034 93 280 22 27

U.S. Consular Agency Seville
Plaza Nueva, 8-8 duplicado
2ª planta, Oficina E-2
41001 Sevilla
Phone: 0034 954 218 751

U.S. Consular Agency Valencia
C/ Dr. Romagosa, 1
2ª planta, puerta J
46002 Valencia
Phone: 0034 963 516 973

U.S. Consular Agency Fuengirola (Málaga)
Avenida Juan Gómez “Juanito”, 8
Edificio Lucía 1º-C
29640 Fuengirola (Málaga)
Phone: 0034 952 47 4891

UK Consulates

If you’re in Spain and you need urgent help (for example, you’ve been attacked, arrested or someone has died), call + 34 952 35 23 00.

British Consulate General Madrid
Torre Espacio
Paseo de la Castellana 259D 
28046 Madrid 
Phone 0034 917 146 300

British Consulate Alicante
Edificio Espacio 
Rambla Méndez Núñez 28-32 
6ª planta
03002 Alicante 
Phone: 0034 965 21 60 22

British Consulate General Barcelona
Avda Diagonal 477–13
08036 Barcelona 
Phone: 0034 93 366 6200

British Consulate Malaga
Calle Mauricio Moro Pareto, 2 
Edificio Eurocom
29006 Malaga 
Phone: 0034 952 35 23 00


Police 112
Fire 112
Ambulance 061


Given the generally existing crime (especially pickpocketing in tourist locations) the following normal precautions should be considered :
- Where possible cars should be parked in guarded car parks;
- Luggage should never be left  unguarded
- Valuables should never be left in the hotel or the car. 


The official languages are Spanish, Catalan, Galician and Basque. German and English are often spoken or understood in tourist areas, but French is actually the first foreign language.

Festivals and Public Holidays

- 1 January (New Year's Day) 
- 6 January (The tree wise men)
- Good Friday (movable)

- Easter Sunday (movable)
- 15 August (Ascension)
- 12 October (Spanish National Holiday)
- November (All Saints)
- 8 December (Immaculate Conception)
- 25 December (Christmas Day)

On these days almost all banks, offices, shops, etc. are closed.
In Spain, the exact holidays are fixed anew every year. Spain has national, regional and local holidays. Each municipality can determine up to 14 holidays, where up to nine are set by the state government. The regional and local holidays are not listed above.


Spain has a mainly Mediterranean climate with relatively mild winters and accordingly hot summer months. In summer there is little to no rainfall, which is particularly problematic because the drought at times favors large-scale forest fires.

Time Zone

Spain is located in the Central European Time Zone (CET). European Summer Time is used between the end of March and the end of October, meaning clocks are moved forward an hour during that period.

Time differences:
UK: - 1 hour
East coast: - 6 hours
West coast: - 9 hours

Electricity and Water

Outlets in Spain are 220 volt. Most appliances will require adapters, which can be purchased at airports and locally.

Weights and Measures

Long distances are measured in kilometers in Spain. A kilometer equals about 2/3 mile.


Shorter distances are measured in meters. A meter is 3.28 feet (1.09 yards).


Weights are measured in kilos. One kilo equals 2.20 pounds.


Postal Service

Post Offices (Oficina de Correos) are open Mon-Fri 9 am - 2 pm, Sat 9 am - 1 pm. Stamps (Sellos) can be bought at the post office or kiosks (Estancos). International mail needs to be put into the slot with the inscription "Extranjero"

Phone Calls

Card phones work with "tarjetas telefónicas". They are available in tobacco shops (Estancos) or in banks.

Country codes for calls placed from Spain:

UK: 00 44 + phone number 
USA/Canada: 00 1 + phone number

Country codes for placing calls to Spain:
UK: 00 34 + phone number 
USA/Canada: 011 34 + phone number

To be paid locally

Fuel costs, costs for fuel service (if applicable), costs for rental cars (see rental car conditions, e.g. one-way rental, permits, child seats, etc.), tolls, food, costs for excursions booked locally by yourself, private expenses (e.g. costs for souvenirs, medication, etc.), tips, entrance fees (if applicable), transport costs (e.g. taxi, bus, train, ferry), tourism levy (if applicable), parking fees (if applicable).

Arrival and Departure

Getting There

The central hub for air travel is Madrid, however other airports such as Barcelona, Malaga, Sevilla and Alicante provide international connections as well. 

Travel Documents and Formalities

U.S. citizens may enter Spain for up to 90 days for tourist or business purposes without a visa. Your passport should be valid for at least three months beyond the period of stay. You need sufficient funds and a return airline ticket.

If your passport describes you as a British Citizen, you don’t need a visa to enter Spain. If you have another type of British nationality, check the current entry requirements with the Spanish Embassy.

The UK and EU have agreed the full legal text of the draft Withdrawal Agreement in principle. This sets out that there will be no change to entry requirements for British citizens travelling to the EU or for EU citizens travelling to the UK during the Implementation Period (30 March 2019 to 31 December 2020).
In the event of changes to entry requirements after the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019, this page will be updated as soon as information is available 
Your passport should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay; you don’t need any additional period of validity on your passport beyond this. This applies to the whole of Spain, including the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands (Majorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera).
However, if the UK leaves the European Union with no deal, the passport validity rules for travel to most countries in Europe will change from 29 March 2019. Before booking travel, you should check that your passport will meet these new rules and find out whether you need to renew it.


Free import to passengers arriving in mainland Spain from non-EU Member States 
a. Tobacco products, for passengers aged 17 and older: 200 cigarettes or 100 cigarillos (max. 3 grams each) or 50 cigars or 250 grams of smoking tobacco
 b. Alcoholic beverages, for passengers aged 17 years and older:
- 1 liter of spirits over 22%, or non-denatured ethyl alcohol with more than 80% volume; or
- 2 liters of spirits or aperitifs made of wine or similar beverages less than 22% volume, or sparkling wines or liquor wines;
- a proportional mix of these products; and in addition
- 4 liters of wine; and
- 16 liters of beer;
c. medicines in proportion to the traveler's needs;
d. other goods (for air travellers), up to a total value of:
- EUR 430.-, per adult; or
- EUR 150.-, if aged under 15 years old.
Products of animal origin, not originating from an EU Member State , Andorra, Liechtenstein, Norway, San Marino or Switzerland, are not permitted to be imported into an EU Member State, with the exception of limited amounts from Andorra, Faroe Isl., Greenland, Iceland and small amounts of specific products from other countries.


(International) Driving License

U.S. citizens visiting Spain who want to drive in Spain must obtain an international driving permit prior to their arrival in Spain. An international driving permit (IDP) translates your state-issued driver’s license into 10 languages so you can show it to officials in foreign countries to help them interpret your driver’s license. The IDP is not valid by itself and must be carried with your driver’s license. (US)

You can use your Great Britain (GB) or Northern Ireland driving licence in all EU or European Economic Area (EEA) countries

Road Code

Without exception, the law is right before left. One is not allowed to be on the phone without a hands-free device while in Spain. The towing of private vehicles is strictly prohibited and may be performed only by authorized towing services. The alcohol limit for alcohol consumption is set at 0.5. Cyclists who use a bike path always have right of way. When filling up the car, radio and cell phone have to be turned off. Installation and use of speed camera detectors is prohibited. Passing is only allowed on the left. Lights should be on even during the day. Everyone has to wear a seat-belt. A helmet has to be worn on scooters, motorcycles and bicycles at all times and by everyone. 

Speed Limits

Urban: 50 km / h
Secondary / country road: 90km / h
Freeways: 100 km / h
Highways: 120 km / h


Parking on public roads is not always permitted or free. In many cities, the parking areas are regulated and subject to charges. Normally these areas can be identified by are parking meter. Parking is generally only permitted in the direction of travel.
In the cities of Seville, Cordoba and Granada few hotels have their own car park, public parking garages must therefore be used. Cost per day EUR 22 - 28.

Breakdown and Accident

An emergency telephone number will be included in the documents you receive from your car rental company. Emergency phone calls can be made free of charge from any public telephone.
Important: If you have a breakdown or an accident outside a city/town area, you must immediately put on a reflective vest. A broken down vehicle needs to be clearly marked with a warning triangle. The towing of private vehicles is strictly prohibited and may be performed only by authorized towing services.


Offenses in road traffic are severely punished in Spain, there is a fixed "schedule of penalties", but the penalty amounts usually lie at the discretion of officer who observed the traffic offence. Usually, however, tourists have to dig deeper into their pockets for traffic violation.


Gas stations (Spanish: gasolinera) are commonly found. The gas stations along the highways are usually open all day. To prevent theft, always lock the car; even if it is left only to quickly pay the bill.
The fuel types in Spain are as follows:
Diesel - Gasóleo
Unleaded Super - gasolina sin plomo: 95 Oktan
Unleaded Super Plus - gasolina sin plomo: 98 Oktan

Directions and Maps

Although brief directions are included in your travel documents, we recommend buying a good road atlas. Caution: cities such as Seville, Cordoba and Granada consist of a tangle of narrow streets. We recommend a GPS or ask a taxi driver to lead the way to the hotel.

Navigation System

The best solution is always a GPS. While rented units are often available, downloading an offline software for your smartphone is a good alternative. Free service is available from "HERE Maps". Although you won't be able to search by coordinates when offline, you can do so while connected to WIFI in your hotel and save places to favorites. The directions from HERE are not very detailed. If you prefer a more detailed navigation, other products are available from TomTom or Navigon at an annual fee. Should you already own a GPS unit you can download the relevant maps prior to departure.



Check-in time is usually from 17:00 – 19:00, unless another check-in time is specified in your travel documents. If you plan to arrive after 20:00, we ask you to please let the hosts know.


The portfolio of Umfulana includes private houses, country inns or small hotels. Usually overnight stay with breakfast is pre-booked. It is customary to leave the room for cleaning in the morning.

Money Matters


ATMs are widely available. All common international credit cards are accepted. English instructions are usually available. It is often possible to pay by card in shops, restaurants and at gas stations.


Medical Insurance

Check to make sure your health insurance covers travel abroad. If not, you would be wise to take out travel insurance, so that medical costs will be covered by your insurance in case of illness abroad.

Drinking Water

The water supply is secured throughout Spain. The country also has a strict control system, which ensures the quality of the water. Nevertheless, the consumption of bottled mineral water is common in most areas of the Mediterranean coast.


Alcohol and Cigarettes

Since 2006 smoking is prohibited in all public places and offices. A limited ban on smoking applies in restaurants and bars. Smoking is only allowed outdoors or in designated smoking areas which have become rare. Disregarding this law will incur heavy fines. 


In Spain it is customary that 5-10% is left on the table for the staff in the gastronomy business. Small coins below 10 cents are considered impolite. In taxis, you can round up the amount to the nearest 50 cents or Euro.