Example text ad:
BPPSERVICES.NET - concierge services, translations, business assistance
Practical Information about Spain
Climate | Clothing | Business hours |
Cinemas | Customs regulations | Driving | Public holidays | Medical assistance | Money matters |
Duty/Duty Free/IVA | Newspaper & Magazines | Postal service | Radio & TV | Telephone | Time | Tipping | Visas & Health regulations | Weights & measures | Electricity
The best months to visit Spain are May and October, except possibly along the
Atlantic coast which experiences heavy rainfall in October and November. In
it is especially hot in Seville and Majorca; the Costa del Sol is less hot than the
Brava and Atlantic coast tempera- tures are in the 70s except in San Sebastian. In
winter, the temperatures along the coast from Algeciras to M laga are in the low
40s, and 50s in Majorca and very cold in Madrid and the rest of central Spain.
In summer, take sweaters and wraps for the evening. A light raincoat will be
especially in the north. Rainwear is essential on the Atlantic coast in
October-November. Bring comfortable walking shoes and hiking boots for the
mountains. Informal dress should be worn over bathing suits and can be worn any
wear except informal restaurants.
Weather in the mountains can turn cold at any time depending on the altitude. Ski
resorts will require appropriate dress. Obviously, in winter months, except
Andalusia, Valencia and the Catalonian coasts, winter wear is necessary.
Shops have morning (9.30 to 1.30 pm) and after noon (4.30 to 8 pm or later)
schedules, with a break at midday for lunch and siesta. Shops are usually closed
Saturdays and Sundays. Major department stores are open six days a week from
am-9 pm. Banking hours are generally from 8.30 to 4.45 pm.
Madrid has more than 130 cinemas, showing subtitled foreign films in their
originallanguage. To see films in English, look under the V.O. (original version)
listing in the
local press. Most of the big cinemas are on the Gran V¡a, Fuencarral and
mainly screening Spanish or Spanish dubbed films.
You can take most personal effects and the following items into
Spain duty-free: 2
still cameras and 10 rolls of film per camera; one movie camera; tobacco for
personal use (400 cigarettes for U.S. and non-EC citizens, 300 cigarettes for EC
residents, and 200 cigarenes for the rest of Europe); one litre of liquor and wine; a
portable radio; a tape recorder; a typewriter; a bicycle; sports equipment; fishing
and two hunting weapons with 100 cartridges each.
Bring a certificate of insurance with you and a bail bond. If you injure someone in
accident, you can be imprisoned while the accident is under investigation.
Drive on the right. The car coming from the right has priority. Speed limits are
kph (75 mph) on motorways and 90-100 kph (56-62 kph) on other roads. A red
amber light together meanstop. Traffic police (GuardiaCivil) are strict about fines
for these offences. Fines are payable on the spot.
- January 1 (New Year's Day)
- January 6 (Feast of Epiphany)
- March 19 (Feast of St. Joseph)
- Good Friday, Easter Monday
- May 1 (May Day)
- June 10 (Corpus Christi)
- June 29 (Feast of St. Peter and St. Paul)
- July 25 (Feast of St. James)
- August 15 (Feast of the Assumption)
- October 12 (Spain's National Day)
- November 1 (All Saint's Day)
- December 8 (Immaculate Conception)
- December 25 (Christmas).
In the event of serious illness, the nearest major hospital will provide care in their
24-hour emergency medical rooms. In Madrid, the Gregorio Mara¤¢n Hospital in
the centre of the city and La Paz in the north and Doce de Octubre in the south will
provide emergency care.
Emergency dental care is provided through the Official Association of Dentist at a
24-hour dental clinic for emergency services on Calle Juan Bravo, 44 (Tel:
402-64-21 ). Be sure to find out before leaving home whether your medical
insurance provides coverage while travelling and specifically in Spain.
Carry evidence of your medical insurance with you at all times. Otherwise,
obtaining Spanish Tourist Insurance purchasable in Spain which provides full
and hospital care and hotel convalescence if necessary. Contact: ASTES Insurance
Group , Nu&nitilde;ez de Balboa, 101, Madrid, (91) 262-20-87.
The basic unit of Spanish currency is the peseta (ptas.). Coins come in 1, 5, 25,
50,100, 200 and 500 pesetas. Notes are issued in 500, 1,000, 5,000, and 10,000
pesetas. Exchange rates (See News Page for daily rate exchange information) vary
depending on when and where you convert your money. Generally banks offer the
best rates but with a service commission of a few pesetas.
There are no restrictions on the amount of local and foreign currency brough tin to
the country. However, non-residents must declare sums exceeding 100,000 pesetas
in local currency or 500,000 pesetas in foreign currency on entry in order to avoid
problems on departure. A maximum of 100,000 pesetas in local currency may be
exported from Spain. The amount of money taken out of Spain must not be greater
than declared on arrival except with special permission from authorities.
American Express, Bank of America, Citicorp, Mastercard International, Barclays
Bank or Thomas Cook traveller's check may be used.
Cashing travellers checks regularly at banks (for a $2-$5 fee) or hotels (for lower
exchange rates than banks but with no fee) will be an expensive nuisance.
is not wise to carry much cash around in cities or to leave cash in cars. Everything
you buy from street and small shop vendors will be in cash. For credit card
in larger stores, VlSA and Mastercharge will be much more accepted. You can
also change money in Madrid at currency exchange shops (Cambios).
Personal checks are not readily accepted anywhere.
For U.S. citizens the duty on leather goods and shoes will be 100% on the first
$1,000 over your $400 duty-free all owance and 8% after that. Both Madrid and
Barcelona have large duty-free shops in their airports.
Value Added Tax
Value Added Tax (VAT of IVA) is a personal use tax of about 12% which is
refundable if you buy any one single item that costs more than 53,000 ptas. (about
$530). However, instead of VAT refunds, stores could offer a 10% discount on
Newspapers & Magazines
The Spanish daily papers ABC, Diario 16, El Mundo, El Pa¡s, La Vanguardia -
most widely circulated. In the field of entertainment and culture, the Gu¡a del Ocio,
is a weekly guide to everything happening in Madrid. On Thursday, El Pa¡s, and
Friday, Diaro 16 and El Mundo, publish weekend supplements which provide
complete listings of activities, art shows, entertainment, exhibitions, movie and
restaurants and TV schedules. Leading international newspapers and magazines
available in the major cities. Other regional English-language papers and
for visitors are published in Spain: The Guide, host in Madrid, The Costa Blanca
News, the Majorca Daily Bulletin, and others.
Thema in post office (Correos) in any city provide facilities or sending telex and
telefaxes as well as 24-hour telegram services. They also have facilities for sending
money orders. If you don't know where you'll be staying, you can have maiI; sent
you lista de correos. With your passaport identification and payment of a small fee,
you'll be able to get your mail. Of course post offices sell stamps which can also
purchased at tobacconists (tabacos) identified by the letter T on a tobacco leaf on
outside of the shop.
Radio & Television
In addition to two nationwide TV channels, TVE 1 and 2, in Madrid there are
private television networks- Antena 3, Tele 5, and Canal Plus and the public
channel, Telemadrid. Programming is in Spanish except for the 1 p.m. news
program Eurodiario, in English, French and German and local programming in
Catalonia and Basque Country. Better hotels have satellite transmitted
One radio station, broadcasting in Madrid, 80 AM or 89 FM, offers English news
entertainment programming, from 6-8 am daily.
There are more than 80 FM stations and a half dozen AM stations. Radio Torrej¢n
is an American English language station that carries popular rock and news.
International telephone calls can be made from coin-operated public telephones
(teléfono). These booths are equipped with instructions in English. You will need
25 and 50 pesetas coins. Credit-card operated telephones are also available at all
major facilities. To make a direct international call from Spain, dial 07 and wait
the high pitched dial tone. Then dial the country code followed by the area code.
Cities and larger towns have telephone exchanges open all day and inresort areas,
you'll find operator-assisted long-distance telephone installations and private
where you can make long-distance calls and pay the owner the amount shown on
metre. If possible, call between 10 pm and 8 am when the rates are cheaper. Dial
003 for operator inquiries. For collect calls ask for "cobro revertido"; for
person-to-person calls, ask for "persona a persona" (person to person).
Spain is1 hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). The Canary Island
Service charges are usually included in hotel and restaurant bills but it is
to leave 50, 100 pesetas per person or10 percent of the bill in a restaurant and at
least a few 5 pesetas coins at a bar. A 50 pesetas tip is average for a taxi ride.
service people expect at least 10 pesetas per person for services. When luggage is
brought to your room, tip 100 pesetas. Theatre and gas station attendants expect a
Emergency Telephone Numbers
Emergency Medical Care: 061
Fire Department: 080 (532-32-32 in Madrid)
Municipal Police: 092
Red Cross: 233-7777
Emergency Medical Care: 212-85-85
Red Cross: 235-93-00
Visas, Passports & Health Regulations
Visas are not needed by U.S., Canadian or British citizens for visits of less than
months. With valid passports, U.S. citizens can stay for six months. Citizens of
Australia, New Zealand, South Africa do need to obtain a visa. All other nationals
advised to check with Spanish embassies in their own countries. Visitors from EC
countries require only a valid National Identity Card from their home state.
of Andorra, Austria, Liechtenstein, Monaco and Switzerland need only proof of
citizenship of their country. Danes must present a valid passport. European citizens
who want to extend their stay for an additional three-months can apply for a
permanencia in Madrid at the Comisaria de Policia, Seccion de Extranjer¡a, Calle
Los Madrazo, 9 (521-93-50). A Student Card (Tarjeta de Estudiante) can be
obtained in the same place by presenting a valid passport, a valid visa, proof of
financial means to stay in the country for the period intended, medical insurance,
proof of enrollment in an officially recognized school.
Visitors to Spain are not currently subject to any health requirements. However,
check with your travel agent before departure in case inoculation certificates are
Weights & Measures
Spain uses the metric system. 1 quart plus three tablespoons equals 1 litre and 1
is approximately 1.76 pints; 1 kilogram equals approximately 2.2 pounds; one
is about a yard; one kilometre is equal to 5/8 mile.
The electrical voltage is 220 volts. Appliances which work on 110 volts (U.S.
standard) will require a transformer. Some hotels may have special sockets in their
rooms for using 100-volt shavers and hair dryers. Flat-pronged American plugs
require round-pronged converters and British plugs need adaptors to fit Spanish
Return to Spain Today Index Page
Return to Europe Today Index Page
Copyright 1995-2000 Spain Today (Emilio Pino) - Europe
Today A.S. - All rights reserved.