Spain - Lifestyle

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Gibraltar Information

Some useful Gibraltar links kindly provided by Fred Bargate

Government of Gibraltar main page From the above you can link through to Tax Social Security Education Plus others

Accommodation This link brings many of the Gibraltar estate agents onto one page,but please note that although I believe this page keeps up to date many of the Estate agents do not. For anyone who does not know Gibraltar just enter the number of bedrooms required in either For Sale or To Rent, the place is too small to worry about location at this stage.

Electricity Water

Telephone / Internet

Gibraltar Airport Flights

Gibraltar Yellow Pages Recruitment Agencies via yellow Pages

Local daily newspapers

Interactive map of Gibraltar

Gibraltar by Wikipedia

Driving Licence Info

UK driving paper driving licences issued after 1990 and the “new” photocard licences issued since 1997 are valid for use in Spain.

However, if you are a resident with the old green paper licence, after 2 years of residence you must either exchange it or register it with Trafico and provide a medical certificate.

Earlier licences are only valid if accompanied by an official translation into Spanish.

Provisional licences cannot be used in Spain. UK licences for cars held by someone aged 17 are not valid in Spain as the minimum age for driving a car is 18.

If you have held a UK car licence for 3 years you are allowed to drive a motorcycle or scooter with a capacity up to 125cc.

According to Spanish law, if you are resident in Spain, then you are free to use your UK licence but you must conform to the requirement for medicals and the same periods of validity as would apply to Spanish nationals.

The question of validity is no longer such an issue in most cases as the Spanish rules recently changed and most licences are now valid for 10 years which is the same as the UK photocard licence. Previously any Spanish licence issued after age 45 was only valid for 5 years. Renewal in Spain after 65 gives a validity of 5 years. A UK licence issued after 70 is only valid for 3 years so no problem here.

If you are resident in Spain when your UK licence expires you cannot legally renew it in the UK so you are obliged to exchange it for a Spanish licence.

If you lose your licence then it must be replaced with a Spanish licence. This can take time as you would need to get a certificate of entitlement from the DVLA.

Apart from this, you are not obliged to exchange your licence but you do have the option to do so. A medical is not normally required when you exchange your licence. Your UK licence will be returned to the DVLA in the UK.

You are not obliged to register your personal details and the details of your UK licence on the Spanish register of drivers but you can do so if you wish to. Your licence is sent away, you will get a temporary replacement document, and it comes back with your NIE laser printed onto the UK licence. If you should lose your UK licence then it is very simple to get a Spanish replacement as all the details are already on file.

If you wish to have your licence endorsed there are details of the requirements here:-

If you wish to exchange your licence there are details of the requirements here:-,_ISLANDIA,_LIECHTENSTEIN_Y_NORUEGA.pdf

Please note that although the need for a medical certificate is not one of the listed requirements and this has been confirmed by the UK Embassy, there have been reports that at some Trafico offices (specifically Málaga) they have asked for one.

Renewal of a Spanish driving licence is now extremely simple. You turn up at your local medical centre in the province that you live. You can find out the locations at

You need your old licence, ID (passport), resident’s certificate or valid card. The cost is approx €40 for the medical which includes taking a digital photo and submission of the application to Trafico. The new licence will be sent by post. From my experience it takes about 2 weeks. In addition you pay the licence fee of €22.40 which is waived if you are over 70.

Further details of the process at

The question of the legality of a Spanish resident having a UK licence with a UK address on it is often raised. The DVLA will not issue a licence with an address outside the UK. Under UK law it is an offence to have an incorrect address on a driving licence. This has been checked out with the DVLA in the UK and their response is:- “It is accepted that drivers who move to another part of the EC/EEA could be holding driving licences showing an incorrect address. This is permissible under the terms of the EC Directive on Driving Licences.”

Other useful links. British Embassy on driving licences.

DVLA driving abroad on a UK licence

EU driving licence details

Exchanging a UK licence for a Spanish photocard licence

This is the personal experience of one of the Spanish forum members extracted from the following thread

I left Alhaurin el Grande at around 11,30am this morning for Malaga after doing several things around town, and got to the bottom of the a357 at about 11,45/11,50. parked up, after finding the Trafico building, hoping i wasn’t too late.

I walked in, nobody about to ask, no signs.. what to do? i went and got in the queue for information. apparently the right move - when i got to the front i asked what i needed to do to change my English licence for a Spanish one. the lovely lady at the desk gave me three forms. one was an information sheet, the second a "declaration", and the third a form to fill in with name/address etc for the details of the new licence. she also gave me a ticket for an "appointment" at one of the main desks (there’s loads).

so, armed with these forms, i went and sat down - there’s loads of seats. i read the forms. you need this this and this blah blah. checked as i went down the list 1,yep, 2,yep, 3, pagar tasa 26€.. hmm i thought .. where to do that. i looked around for signs and saw the "caja" on the left. ok, looks good, go to that desk. got in the queue, and got to the front.. i hadn’t filled out the info / carbon copy sheet, need to fill that in first. so i asked for a pen.. they don’t have any. take a pen! looking about, i saw an empty desk with a pen on the counter. went and used that one. filled in the form, and got back in the queue.

got to the front of the "caja" queue, and handed her my now filled in carbon copy info form, she fed it into the machine, like they do in the bank, it came out with "tax paid 26€ blah blah" on it, i paid, job done, she gave me another ticket. (the first one from information was C054, the second C064, it was on C058 when i was at the "caja" desk, so i had a few minutes to wait.

looking again at the information sheet i was now on points 4 and 5, which involved photos and photocopies.. hmm looked about.. couldn´t see either in the Trafico building.. so.. went outside and asked one of the "do you need a medical" touts outside (mostly lovely looking girls actually! lol .. it turned out that the kiosk, as in, the sweets/chrisps/drinks kiosk outside does photocopies. excellent, went there and got them done (25c each), asked him where to get photos, expecting to have to jump in the car and go somewhere, he pointed down the street. in the distance, say 150m from Trafico was a medical place, that also did photos. bargain. so i walked there, 6 photos, 4€.

went back in to Trafico and waited for my turn. C064 came up, and presented all my documents to the woman at the counter. "no problem, stamp, staple, sign this form, tappity tap, what’s your phone number, we’ll call you when its ready, byeeeeee" ...

i was shocked, all done and dusted in under an hour.

i needed my:

passport, and photocopy of it, driving licence, and photocopy of it, NIE, and photocopy of it. 1 photo, 26€ in cash, and an hour or so to spare ... and .. TAKE A PEN

easy when you actually do it and stop worrying about it personally, knowing how to do it, and looking back, i really should of thought about taking photocopies and pictures with me before i went, would of saved the looking about and trying to find places

im now waiting on their call to go and collect my new shiny Spanish licence

yesterday i received a letter from dgt (its written in English) in a posh little hand written envelope too, and its cream not white.. and i didn’t sign for it...

it says, word for word :

dear sir / madam,

i am writing to inform you that your driving licence from the united kingdom is ready to be exchanged for a Spanish one. you will have to come to the jefatura provincial de Trafico in Málaga on the 18/01/2010 between 10,30 and 12,00 in order to get your driving licence.

please get a number from the canjes window in information when you arrive, and bring with you the following things: (only those with a cross)

your personal id - dni, OR nie (or resident card if in date), OR residence certificate and passport (originals)

your driving licence - plastic card and counterpart (originals)

one photo, (colour, 35mmx35mm on a white back ground)

a medical certificate from a drivers medical centre

so there you go. looks like i’m collecting my new shiny one in a few weeks apparently i do now have to have a medical though, which is a little strange, i would imagine because my photo licence is more than 10 years old ? i’m not really fussed, i’m not blind or anything, so it should all be good

well - another update. i went down, did the medical. took it in with me, got a number, waited

they checked papers, took the medical certificate off me, checked this and that... then .. handed me a card "temporary" licence.

apparently i’m waiting for my "new" Spanish licence which will take 2 weeks and arrive in the post.

ok, update no. 2 today ...

the postman left my new licence tucked in the door reja .

Reregistering a UK car in Spain and other driving information

Registering a UK car in Spain. Costs & procedure (2 August 2011)

1. Car Items. Change to “left hand drive” style lights, absolute necessity for a Spanish vehicle Plus Tow Bar for trailer / caravan must have approved stamped number, No window covering / shading, tyres must be European; Roof rack must be approved, Sun roof can be accommodated, we can also organise wills at the Notary All prices approx

2A. Notary for Acta de manifestaciones (also possibly wills) Need NIE & Empadron. Complete Acta de manifestaciones pro-forma plus passport (70 euros) next fill in credit card form for consulate (90 euros), plus photocopy of V5 logbook, plus 50 euros return for courier (we supply covering letter). Receive “Acta de Manifestaciones” and notarised copy of passport 210 Euros

2B Census office for Volante de Empadronamiento (ensure current - under 3 months) Escritura plus NIE Original and photocopy plus Passport and photocopy Free

2C. Ficha Technical (If you haven’t got a “Certificate of European Conformity) 1st appointment NIE, need logbook, car handbook very useful for dimensions. 2nd appointment (two days later), need 90 euros plus our fee 200 euros (Chiclana area – of which 40 euros is refundable on ITV first time pass) 290 Euros

3. ITV (MOT test) Need Log book, Volante, Consulate certificate (Baja), ficha technical, NIE Original & photocopy. When collecting documentation one week later we ensure original documents are returned. (and make a note of next test date) 130 Euros

4a. Hacienda Form 06 – need all documentation from ITV, NIE, Volante, consulate form (Baja de Residencia) (all need original and photocopy) 50 cents only

4b. Ayuntamiento to pay Road Tax Need documentation from ITV, Ficha technical, volante de empadronamiento, NIE. All require original and photocopy (Price depends on engine size / emissions). Up to 225 Euros

5. Trafico Cadiz Need Form from Trafico for “Cambio Matricular”, NIE, Volante de empadronamiento, Passport, V5 logbook, form 06 and hacienda copy, MOT pass certificate, Green ITV ficha technical, road tax form (pink), Baja de Residencia (consulate form) (all need original & photocopy) 90 euros (no.plates 20 euros) Once complete you need to send to the DVLA a photocopy of the V5 logbook and a photocopy of the Permiso de circulacion

Update There is no need for a consular certificate as the 60 days now starts from the date the Padron was issued

Driving licence

To exchange a driving licence :- Original licence plus photocopy, Letter of authority if licence holder not present; Trafico Form to be filled in for payment; residencia plus photocopy or NIE and Volante originals and photocopies, 3 photographs (1 is spare)

The validity of Spanish licences is :- Up to age 65 = every 10 years Over 65 = every 5 years


From the Police station in Chiclana, need form (and photocopy of completed form) & Passport (original & photocopy). 10 euros

What to carry in the car 1. Your Residence Card, passport or identity card 2. CURRENT DRIVING LICENCE, preferably the EU type with the ring of stars 3. Two EU approved, red warning triangles 4. Approved reflective jackets that must be worn by ALL outside the car at anytime, day or night, The jackets must be kept inside the car so they can be put on BEFORE getting out and also must be visible from outside the car. 5. If you wear corrective glasses for driving, a spare pair 6. Vehicle registration document (permiso de circulación) 7. All original vehicle documents relating to the car (only legally certified copies by Trafico are OK). 8. Green ITV card plus the A4 printout from the test (marked “favorable”) 9. A spare wheel, inflated and the tools necessary to change it 10. It is no longer necessary to carry details of insurance as the police have access to the insurance database. To be on the safe side it makes sense to carry details(including proof of payment) Approved child seats for children under 12 and/or under 150cm Recommended, but not mandatory is a First Aid kit and a fire extinguisher In order to obtain a disability parking permit (blue badge), one has to be first classified as disabled. Go to your local social security office or social worker and ask for the appropriate solicitud (application) for certificado de minusvalidos. This has to be submitted with the appropriate documentation (certificate of residency or card, social security certificate or copy of application, passport etc. all the ususal) including medical reports from g.p. and hospital consultants. Approx two months later the applicant will be invited to an interview at the disability office in Cadiz. This takes the form of three interviews of approx 30 min each with a doctor, a social worker and a psychiatrist. Together they decide on the level of disability and will, approx 6weeks later, issue a certificado de grados. Armed with this certificate one can then apply (at the same office) for a blue badge and also one may be entitled to other benefits such as home help etc. The badge can the be collected approx six weeks later. As you can see this is quite a lengthy process (5-6months is not unusual) but I would point out that this system is closely monitored and is not easily open to abuse as in the u.k. and as a result disabled people with their appropriate grading can expect a high level of regard and respect in official places

Yes you must remove old stickers; if Guardia Civil are in the mood they can fine you (obstructing your view) - usually they don't BUT ....

If you wear spectacles, you must have a spare pair; two warning triangles, set of replacement lights (even if you can't fit them by the roadside), a reflective jacket with the approved mark of authenticity for each passenger, in theory a spare fan belt and the tools to replace it, in theory a medical kit.

Your green ficha technical AND the pass certificate if the car is four or more years old (three for commercial). The "permiso de circulacion" the post card with the "E" in the top left hand corner OR the replacement one (A5 sized) with "registration Document" in 19 languages.

Your residents card, passport or identity card Oh and I forgot the theoretical fire extinguisher - unless they have changed the rules in which case anything Guardia Civil can think of

Davexf __________________

Car Information

Annual road worthiness test information(ITV)

From the company that runs the ITV stations, in Galicia, here is a link to a PDF that confirm the rules and regulations for the test. Although this is from a Galician website the rules are the same throughout Spain. 400 pages PDF, in Spanish
How to obtain permission to modify your car in Spanish PDF

Telephone Info

Telephone Number Charges

In Spain, the charged-at-premium numbers begins with 80 or 90 (except the 800, 900 and 909, which are free, the 901 which is shared cost, the 902 which is like a provincial call and the 908 which is like a metropolitan call). The most popular prefixes are 803 (porn hot-lines) and 806 (services), also are used 807 and 905. Previously all the numbers starting with 90x (except 900, 901 and 902) were charged at premium rates but the 906 had been moved to 803, 806 and 807 and the 908 and 909 prefixes were created for Internet dialup services. All those numbers have 9 digits.

Also there are other range for information services (weather, white pages, etc...), there are all the numbers starting with 118, they can have 5 or 6 digits with a variable cost per number. 11823 is free from Telefónica's telephone cabins. Previously 11823 was 1003.

Telefonica manual in English It is a PDF file, this free program will allow you to read it if you do not have Adobe reader, its also faster and smaller program.
Vodafone in English
Phonebook in English

Chimney and Fire Stuff

Chimney and Fire stuff

A fuel can only give out so much heat. Correct useage will maximise that. Wood is a fast fuel, coal is a slow fuel. In order to maximise heat output, coal needs to be held up and the ash allowed to fall away. Failure to do this makes the coal burn slower, and the bars to burn out. Wood is a fast fuel, and if held up on bars, with the ash falling away, it will burn more to flame, and flames send smost all their heat up the chimney. If you don't believe me, see the difference between holding your fingers to the side of a candle flame, or above it. Wood needs to burn more smothered in its ash in order to give out more heat. In an open fire, radiant heat is effectively all the heat you get from the fuel, and you get that more from coal and embers. Flames may look pretty but are very extravagent. If the grate has a lot of bars between you and the coals, then again, that will reduce heat output.

Mixing wood and coal risks you getting the worst of both worlds, as the wood will be more likely to burn to give flames, and the coal will be smothered by the wood ash.

If you cannot get a good fire from wood, trust me you are doing something very, very wrong. Damp fuel is one of the commonest reasons. A damp log can hold a lot of water, and a lot of the energy from the other logs will go towards driving all that water out, which reduces the heat available to warm the room. Remember that that water has to undergo a phase change which is horrendously expensive wrto energy.

A phase change is when water changes from ice to liquid, or from liquid to steam. Consider this. Put a cupful of water into a saucepan, bring it to the boil and time how long that takes. Now without altering the flame, leave it until all that water has boiled away and see how long that takes. That will give you an idea how expensive a phase change is, and, since a damp log can easily hold a cupful of water, how much energy is wasted through burning damp fuel.

This is why steam scalds so badly, and is so dangerous. When the steam hits your skin, it starts to cool, phase changes downwards and dumps its high heat content into your skin.

As for coke burning out a flue. It has little to do with heat, and more to do with acid. All fuels burnt put a lot of acids up your chimney. Carbonic, sulphuric, sulphurous, nitrous and nitric acids, plus a few halide based acids.

The sulphur based acids are far higher in so called smokeless fuels, and the nitrogen based acids increase with fire temperatures.

So, burning coke and other smokeless fuels will result in a higher risk of acid corrosion in metal chimneys. The heat damage is usually caused by a buildup of soot and tars from burning wood and or house coal, which is why regular sweeping is important. A chimney fire can do spectacular structural damage to masonry chimneys as they can burn at temperatures far exceeding that of the fire in the hearth, and it can also accelerate corrosion damage in metal chimneys/flues. Contributor - BE Member bil

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide from smokeless is far more dangerous, because it carries no warning smoke. Smokeless produces just as much monoxide as anything else.

Green plastic scrubbies will scratch stainless steel, so I can assure you they will scratch glass, even if you don't notice it. Ash too is an abrasive material, so don't use it. Even fine scratches will result in the tar sticking worse in the future.

Only clean the glass in the approved way with the proper cleaning techniques.

If the inside of the stove is getting tarry, and smoke billows out into the room when you open the door, this is quite possibly the result of the flue being partly or completely blocked. Do check it, it could save your life.

All joints need to be constructed so that the male drops down into the female, and I have never in 30 years seen one of those leak condensate where they are the right way up. Get those joints wrong and no sealant will fix it. Metal tubes passing thru a wall mst be surrounded by flexible fireproof materials, if they are cemented in, they will all too often split the cement, and cause radiating cracks all the way round. A length of single skin metal flue inside is a great way to maximise heat transfer to the living space, but it does lead to higher soot and tar deposits, so the flue will need cleaning more frequently. Chimney fires are not safe or clever and do real damage.

Joints between fluepipes when correctly installed need no sealing, a friction fit is perfectly adequate. If any joint or portion leaks smoke/fumes, then there is a fault above that point which needs urgent attention. Any hole/gap in the flue should at all times see air from the room going into the flue, never the other way. A small amount of air entering the flue like this is unimportant, too much can result in chilling of the flue gasses.

If the flue gasses are chilled too much, whether by ingress of air, excessive runs of single skin pipe, or from a metal flue outside being chilled by the wind, then the flue gas temp may drop below the dew point, and condensation will then take place. This can result in black, acidic, tarry water running down the flue in considerable quantities, and where this hits an incorrect joint, leakage and staining will result.

A butterfly damper in the pipe where it exits the stove is usually an indicator of poor quality. It usually means that the seals around the door and the air intakes are less than adequate. Check always that the throat plate can be removed for cleaning. That's often a danger point. Contributor - BE Member bil

Smoking Fireplaces/Appliances

Here's a quick trouble shooting guide for a smoking fireplace/appliance

1. Does it smoke all the time?

If Yes, it is most likely to be one of the following. Chimney or flue totally or partially blocked, fireplace/appliance opening too big for flue, or restricted terminal. This may sound stupid, but check that it actually HAS a chimney/flue. There are a few occasions when I have discovered that's been the problem. Equally, a flue that is too short, below 12 feet, can fail to function.

cures obvious.

2. Smokes some of the time.

a) if it smokes but stops when you open the door or window, there isn't enough ventilation in the room. cure, allow more air into room b) smokes only when the wind blows. If the flue terminates too close to the roof, or below the ridge on pitched roofs, then it is too low and needs raising. If it can't be raised, fit a spinning cowl. if the flue terminates high up and doesn't have anything within 25 metres that is taller, then you most likely need a cowl. Again the spinners are good, but a chinaman's hat is simpler and does much the same. Make sure all such devices are securely fitted to the outside of the stack/flue. Contributor - BE Member bil

Useful Links

Pilgrimage across Spain by the lost Photographer
Age concern in Spain info
Andalucia Public Holidays
Bank info
British Embassy in Madrid
Spanish Consulate in London
NIE form download
Buying a Property in Spain - Glossary of Legal Terms
Care and welfare in Spain
Car prices, a rough guide
Car part terms for use at the garage
Castaral Register
Construction Jargon Guide
Nicks Removals to Spain
Charities in Spain
Gov. UK. Britons Living Abroad
Department of Works and Pensions. Some benefits can be claimed elsewhere in the EU.
Transfering benefits abroad
Pension info
Disability Alliance site
EU pension info
Dogs in Spain
Downloadable Forms inc NIE etc
Device manuals in English
Driving in Spain
Guide to work in Spain
Having a baby in Spain
Jobs in Spain
Healthcare hints
Healthcare in Valencia update
How to find if your house can have ADSL
Jobs in Europe
Keyboard Characters in Spanish text
Lawyer info
List of government web sites
Living in Europe
Malaga Airport Info
Maps and photos of Spain
Meat cuts in Spanish
Moving to Lanzarote, Information and advice
Mums In Spain
Moving within the EU
Nicks Removals to Spain
Pet Transport
Pet vet for return to UK
Petrol Prices in Spain
Pool Stuff
Postal rates
Radio Stations in Spain Residency Rules
Reptiles etc in Spain
Second hand goods
Satellite TV in Spain info
Schools in Spain Self employed move from the UK
Spanish Airport Guide
Spanish Building Regulations
Spanish Consumer Association
Spanish INC
Spain Gestor
Spanish tax
Spanish wills and POA

Booking cheap AVE tickets

2 months before the date of your trip. At midnight into the next day. That is to say if your trip is on 16th November you need to look after midnight 16th-17th September.

I've actually found it takes some time to put the offers up and you may find more offers on the next day. (That is to say on the 17th of 2 months previous to a trip on the 16th). Go to the Renfe site and "Compra Billetes" and put in a date time and number of people. Choose 'Ida' only. Then look for the red W sign that means there'll be a special web price.

Of course the cheapest prices will be at the most unpopular times of day but you should be able to get the price down to half price if not nearly down to a third of the normal price at really unpopular times!

You can also get very cheap prices on even more trains if you book an entire table of 4 people. -That's on the blue button-. One thing not to be confused by is , after you've selected your trip, the little box that says 'familia numerosa'. Just don't select either of the 2 FN options in the drop down box. It doesn't apply to you.

From then on it's easy. Just don't look at the 'vuelta' on the same day because there won't be any offers. To get the very best prices you have to do another "Ida" in the other direction. Also you will need to have your NIE number or Passport number to hand as the site asks for that as well.

Contributed by angiescarr