Local laws and customs
Spanish law defines anyone under 18 to be a minor. Any unaccompanied minors that come to the attention of the Spanish authorities (for whatever reason, but particularly in connection with criminal incidents or when in hospital) are judged to be vulnerable and may be taken into a minors centre until a parent or guardian can be found.
You must provide photographic ID (your passport) if requested by a police officer. This includes the Guardia Civil and national, regional and local police forces. The police have the right to hold you at a police station until your identity is confirmed. Ignoring direct requests or challenging a police officer may be viewed as ‘disobedience’, which is a criminal offence.
Possession of even a small quantity of drugs can lead to arrest and detention. Possession of large quantities will probably result in prosecution and a prison sentence if convicted.
Some local councils in Spain have banned the consumption of alcohol in the street and on-the-spot fines may be issued. There are strict controls on drinking and sexual activity in public places, including beaches.
Spain is tolerant and socially progressive on attitudes towards the LGBT community. Madrid held the World Pride celebrations in 2017 and same-sex marriage has been legal in Spain since 2005. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.
In some parts of Spain it’s against the law to be in the street wearing only a bikini or swimming shorts/trunks. Being bare-chested has also been banned. Some local councils will impose fines if you’re caught wearing swimwear on the seafront promenade or the adjacent streets.
For security reasons, some public authorities in Spain don’t allow the burka or niqab to be worn in their buildings. If you visit Town Councils wearing a burka or niqab, you may be asked to remove it while in the building.
Hotels have a legal duty to register the passport details of tourists on check-in. Wait until the hotel staff have registered your passport details or taken a photocopy of your passport. Don’t leave it in reception to collect later.