Car Hire in Andalucia & Southern Spain

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

car hire southern spain

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.

Rental Conditions

Car rental conditions vary from company to company, in general the less the rental price the greater the likley-hood that there is a rental condition or charge that you might not be expecting. Take time to read the small print rental conditions before you make the booking, and again when you receive the confirmation email.  

Below we explain typical conditions and practice of the car hire companies in Malaga and Andalucia. Read this section and if there is any area that you think you may not be compliant check the specific terms carefully. 


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€.  The minimum cost to repair the smallest scratch may be set by the Car Hire company, including administration to be as much as 250€.  

It is possible to insure this excess with the hire car company by selecting it with the booking 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. This insurance on the excess is generally about 5 to 9€ per day even up to 25€ per day.

Some of the car hire broker websites offer (included or for a small fee) an excess insurance for the hire.   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's excess insurance you will not need to concern yourself with this.

Some types of damage may be excluded from the principal car hire insurance. This might be tyre damage, windows, roof scratches and/or windscreen wipers lost car keys, filling the car with the wrong fuel ( e.g.  petrol instead of diesel or vice versa) .

It highly 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. Check your holiday or house insurance with respect to cover for this. Non 'break-in' or 'non violent thefts' my be excluded which would not cover you in the event of a distractive scam. See Security below.    

Security Deposit

A security deposit is likely to be required when you collect the car. This is entirely separate to the insurance excess. The sum required would have been shown when you booked the car and is written in the contract. It can vary from 250€ to 1.500€.  It will be either charged to your credit card, or a block placed on the card for the amount. When you return the car, assuming there is no charge to levy or there is no dispute, the deposit will be returned or the block released. 

Driving Licence

To collect a hire car in Andalucía you must produce the originals of a valid driving license and a valid passport. (Some companies may accept an EU Member State ID card instead of passport - but check before leaving home). If the driving licence is not issued by an EU member state a International Driving Permit often required by the car hire desk, and needed anyway in the even to a police check. 

Additional drivers must be present and produce original valid driving licence. All drivers' names must specifically be recorded on the rental agreement. (Unlike USA where spouses are automatically covered.)  Additional drives can usually be added part way through the hire period by returning to a car hire company office. Sometimes there is an admin fee for this.  


When collecting a vehicle from a hire company, a few will want to check whether you have any penalty points.  On 8 June 2015, the paper counterpart to the British 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 did not affect licences issued by DVA in Northern Ireland.

the rental company may ask for a code so that they can check your licence online or ask for a print-out of your licence details. Get the code here Actually most car rental companies in Andalucia state for clarity in the conditions that they do not need this code.


To collect a hire car in Andalucía you must produce the originals of a valid driving license and a valid passport. Don't forget the passport if you are not collecting the car on arrival at the airport.   Additional drivers must be present and produce original valid driving licence. All drivers' names must specifically be recorded on the rental agreement. In line with the policy for airlines and hotels, Car Rental companies are obliged to send a car hirers name and document number to the Spanish police.

If you have booked on line with a broker or agent, make sure you print and bring the 'Pre-paid Car Hire Voucher' to prove the reservation and payment when you collect the car. See note on credit cards below.


Even if the hire care is fully paid in advance, you will need to a credit card to pay for the security deposit, possibly a fuel deposit and any extras purchased. Obviously the car needs to have the funds available. The card should be a credit card, as debit cards are not always accepted,  and not a prepaid card. All car rentals companies accept VISA and Mastercard, only some American Express. If the security deposit is substantial have a second card, which must be in the principal driver's name, at the ready.

Young Drivers

No hire car company will hire a car to a driver under 21 years. 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, some two. This is because in Spain there are certain rules for new drivers such as the requirement to display a green L-plate on the car.

Elderly Drivers

Drivers 69 years old (on the last day of the rental) need to check these  conditions as some rental car companies set this limit, most are 75, some 84. 


Policy on payment for petrol varies. Most issue cars with a full (or possibly half or quarter or empty)  tank and ask you to return the car the same. If you do not and they need to fill the car for you there may be a service charge of up to 30€  plus a surcharge on the fuel cost per litre. Check when inspecting the car that the fuel gauge corresponds to what is noted on the copy of the contract you signed at the desk.

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.

Office Hours

Car hire companies have extended office hours suitable for most car rental collection and return times. However if you are collecting or returning the car outside their hours, there will be a charge. Office hours vary by company but 'outside office hours' may be from 20.00, but more usually 22.00 or 23.00 to 08.00.   

If you arrive more than a few hours late or arrive the following day to collect the car, the reservation will have been cancelled without refund. Flight delay is usually an exception to this. If your plane is delayed, and you have NOT given the car hire company your flight number, make every effort to contact the car hire company to explain the delay.   


Most car hire contracts in Andalucía permit the car to be taken to Gibraltar or Portugal. Check carefully if this is your intention. It is usually required to obtain permission (and pay a fee) to take the car to France, Andora or other parts of Europe. It is always prohibited to take the car to Morocco, Ceuta, Melilla. A few limit travel to Andalucia.


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.

Read the paragraph above about insurance. 


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 rear luggage compartment and two yellow vests in the interior passenger glove compartment. Ensure these are present on collection. Also check spare tire and jack and tools are present.

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 from company to company, but can be as high as 85€. 


Be aware that tourists in hire cars are sometimes targeted by professions thieves. They are easy to identify especially if there is a company car hire sticker on the back.  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 in the car park.  

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.

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