Car Hire in Andalucia & Southern Spain


Exploring Andalucia by car is a great way to enjoy the region. © istock
Exploring Andalucia by car is a great way to enjoy the region.

car hire southern spain

by Chris Chaplow

The major international car rental companies have offices in most Andalucian cities and at the major airports such as Málaga Airport. However, the smaller local car rental companies tend to be less expensive.

It's advisable to reserve a rental car online before arriving, particularly during peak periods. On arrival follow the instructions in your rental confirmation. Either go to the car hire company desk at the airport terminal or meet the company representative in the arrivals hall. He or she will be holding a notice board with your name on it.

More visitors rent cars in Spain than in any other European country and a hefty percentage of these are in Andalucía. Car rental in southern Spain is the most economic in Europe due to the volume and strong competition.


When you hire a car online you are actually reserving a car in a 'rental group' and not a specific make or model of car. Note that adjacent to the name of the car in the listing it will say 'or similar'. More info about Car Hire rental groups used in Andalucia


Check the insurance cover when you hire the car. The standard hire car rental contract covers the legally required third party insurance and also most of the insurance on the hire car itself for damage or theft. This cover will be called Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) or sometimes called Loss Damage Waiver (LDW) or third party liability insurance. If the vehicle is scratched or damaged in an accident or is stolen, the renter is liable for the first portion of the loss, called the 'excess'. This excess varies depending on the model of the car but is usually about 1,000€ to 2,500€.  

It is possible to insure this excess by selecting online; if you have not you will be asked at the hire car collection desk and if you decline you will need to initial the contract to confirm this in writing. The insurance on the excess is generally about 3€ to 8€ per day.

It is possible to purchase your own annual excess policy online for about 40€ per year. This approach offers a saving for the frequent care hire customer. Don't forget that in the event of an incident, whether it is a scratch, tyre damage or an accident, the car hire company will charge your credit car and you will have the task of making a successful claim with your excess insurer. If you accept the car hire company excess insurance you will not need to concern yourself with this.

Some types of damage may be excluded from principal car hire insurance. This might be tyre damage, windows, roof scratches and/or windscreen wipers. It unlikely that the loss of your personal possessions will be covered by the hire care insurance if the car is broken into or if the car is stolen.


Young Drivers

No hire car company will hire a car to a driver under 21years. Some, such as MálagaCar, will hire to a driver under 25 years for an increased premium of about 3€ to 5 € a day. All will require that the drivers has one year's driving after passing the test. This is because in Spain there are certain rules for this class of drivers such as the requirement to display a green L-plate on the car.     


On 8 June 2015, the paper counterpart to the photocard driving licence was abolished. The counterpart contained information such as any penalty points you have. You can view all your up-to-date driving licence information using DVLA's View Driving Licence service. These changes do not affect licences issued by DVA in Northern Ireland.

When collecting a vehicle from a hire company, they usually only ask to see your photo card licence. Some also want to check whether you have any penalty points. They may ask for a code so that they can check your licence online or for a printout of your licence details. Get the code here


Policy on payment for petrol varies. Most issue cars with a full/half/empty tank and ask you to return the car the same. The older practice of charging for a full tank and not giving a credit to you when the car is not returned empty is not common. Some offer to sell you the half a tank in the car for a reasonable price and then you can return it how you want. On our airport pages we indicate where the nearest petrol station is located. Here is info on types and price of fuel in Andalucía.


Most car hire contracts in Andalucía permit the car to be taken to Gibraltar or Portugal. It is often required to obtain permission totake the car to France or other parts of Europe. It is always prohibited to take the car to Morocco.


To collect a hire car in Andalucía you must produce a valid driving license for each registered driver. All drivers' names must specifically be recorded on the rental agreement.


Lastly, check the car on collection for damage. Record on a phone camera if unsure whether to record very minor scratches (less than two centimetres long) on the contract. Some companies are more particular than others about minor damage charges.

On returning a car at an airport or train station, make sure you have enough time to have the car inspected and signed off by the car hire company. Leaving keys in the box and rushing for the plane can leave you exposed to disputed minor damage.


Most car hire contracts prohibit 'off road' driving. Some will define 'off road' as off any tarmac road surface. There are many rural locations and rural hotels and accommodations in Andalucía that require you to drive up a farm track. This is normal in Andalucía. Drive slowly and with caution in these circumstances.


All cars are required by law to carry two warning triangles in the luggage compartment and two yellow vests in the glove compartment. Ensure these are present on collection.

Driving Infractions

Drive cautiously. A speeding or parking fine may be notified to the car hire company after you have returned the car. Not unreasonably, the car hire company charge an admin fee on top of the fine. This fee varies fromcompany to company, but can be as high as 85€. 


Be aware that tourists in hire cars are sometimes targeted by professions thieves. Professional thieves are known to target tourists en-route from the airport to the lodging. Do not leave the car unattended or out of site. If you stop at motorway services for a coffee or stop at a supermarket for shopping with a laden car, leave one member of your party with the car.

If a car overtakes you and tries to point out a problem with your car do not stop. Do not allow yourself to be distracted by a problem or a request for directions in a supermarket car park.

On your holiday, never leave anything in view in a parked car. Everything should be out of sight in the boot / trunk.

When you return the car, make sure you deposit the keys with a representative of the hire car company, and not just a helpful man wearing a reflective jacket who comes forward.  

More Info

Consult our Driving and Motoring pages in the travel section for a guide to driving in Andalucía, plus our suggested Driving Itineraries.   Consult Cars and Motoring in our Living in Andalucía section which is more focused on buying, taxing and maintaining a car in Andalucia.