Holidays should be relaxing and trouble free, but things don’t always go to plan.
For those travelling to Spain this summer, the Government has released up to date advice to make sure Brits abroad have a safe trip.
While most visits to the country are stress free, there has been a rise in burglaries, balcony falls and thefts of passports and valuables from hire cars.
With recent public order offences concerning football fans celebrating the World Cup and a shooting in Benidorm the Government has listed some helpful tips and warnings.
(Image: Getty Images Europe)
Holiday goers should be alert to street crime, especially thieves using distraction techniques.
Thieves often work in teams of two or more people and tend to target money and passports.
Don’t carry all your valuables in one place, and remember to keep a photocopy or scanned copy of your passport somewhere safe.
Many people have their passports stolen while passing through airports, either on arrival in or departure from Spain.
Take extra care to guard passports, money and personal belongings when collecting or checking in luggage at the airport, and while arranging car hire.
There has been an increase in the number of thefts from hire cars. Remove all valuables from the vehicle when you park or store items out of sight.
In some city centres and resorts, thieves posing as police officers may approach tourists and ask to see their wallets for identification purposes.
If this happens to you, establish that the officers are genuine and if necessary show some other form of ID.
Genuine police officers don’t ask to see wallets or purses.
In any emergency, call 112.
To report a crime, including stolen property and lost or stolen passports, visit the nearest Policia Nacional, regional police or Guardia Civil Station to file a police report (denuncia).
While in Spain, you can also call a dedicated English-speaking police line on +34 90 210 2112.
Following public order incidents after televised England matches in Benidorm, fans watching England’s semi-final clash with Croatia are being advised to exercise caution around the vicinity of Rincón Loix.
If you’re in the area, you should follow the instructions and advice of the local authorities. Strict controls on drinking alcohol in the street are in force and anti-social behaviour may lead to prosecution.
Personal attacks, including sexual assaults, are rare but they do happen, and are often carried out by other British nationals.
Be alert to the possibility of ‘date rape’ drugs and other drugs including ‘GHB’ and liquid ecstasy.
Buy your own drinks and keep sight of them at all times to make sure they aren’t spiked.
There has been an increase in reports of burglaries in areas with holiday accommodation and residential areas in major cities.
Make sure your accommodation has adequate security and lock all doors and windows at night or when you aren’t in.
When driving, be wary of approaches by bogus police officers in plain clothes travelling in unmarked cars.
Genuine police officers will be in uniform, and all police officers, including those in plain clothes, carry official ID.
Unmarked police vehicles have a flashing electronic sign on the rear window which reads Policía (Police) or Guardia Civil (Civil Guard), and normally have blue flashing lights.
Real police officers will only ask you to show them your documents and will not ask for your bag or wallet/purse.
If in any doubt, you should talk through the car window and contact the Civil Guard on 062 or Police on 112 and ask them to confirm that the registration number of the vehicle corresponds to an official police vehicle.
Also be aware of ‘highway pirates’ who target foreign-registered and hire cars, especially those towing caravans.
Some will (forcefully) try to make you stop, claiming there is something wrong with your car or that you have damaged theirs.
If you decide to stop to check the condition of your/their vehicle, stop in a public area with lights like a service station, and be extremely wary of anyone offering help.
Only use officially registered or licensed taxis.
There have been reports of lottery scams in Spain.
A person receives what appears to be official notification from the Spanish Inland Revenue office (Hacienda) that they’ve won the Spanish lottery and should deposit money in a bank account to receive their winnings.
It’s likely to be a scam if you haven’t entered a lottery, you’re asked to pay anything and the contact telephone number is for a mobile phone.
There have been a number of very serious accidents (some fatal) as a result of falls from balconies.
Many of these have involved British people under the influence of drink or drugs.
Your travel insurance may not cover you for incidents that take place while you’re under the influence of drink or drugs.
Some local councils will impose fines to those caught behaving irresponsibly on balconies.
Take care when swimming in the sea as some beaches, especially around Spanish Islands, may have strong undercurrents.
Most of them have a flag system but before swimming, make sure you understand the system and follow any warnings. A red flag means you mustn’t enter the water.
You should take extra care if there are no lifeguards, flags or signs and follow advice if jellyfish are present.
You should avoid swimming at beaches that are close to rivers and don’t dive into unknown water as hidden rocks or shallow depths can cause serious injury or death.
Take care when walking along unmanned beaches close to the water’s edge as some waves can be of an unpredictable size and come in further than expected with strong undertows.
Take extra care when planning a hike or walk to check local weather reports for warnings of extreme heat or cold temperatures.
The Catalonia region has started billing negligent climbers, skiers and other adventurers who have to be rescued.
Crossing between Spain and Gibraltar
Spanish border checks can cause delays when crossing between Spain and Gibraltar. There is no charge to enter or leave Gibraltar. Don’t hand over money if you’re approached by anyone claiming that there is a charge.
Driving rules and customs are different from those in the UK and the accident rate is higher, especially on motorways.
You must carry two red warning triangles which should be placed, in the event of an accident or breakdown, in front of and behind the vehicle.
You must have a spare wheel and the tools to change it.
If at any time you have to leave your vehicle due to an accident or breakdown or while waiting for the arrival of the emergency services, you must wear a reflective vest or you may face a heavy fine.
UK provisional licences are not valid for driving in Spain.
Carry a certificate of insurance in case you’re stopped.
Spain has strict drink driving laws. Penalties include heavy fines, loss of licence and imprisonment.
On the spot fines can be issued for a variety of driving offences including exceeding the speed limit.
Should you choose to accept the fine and pay within 20 days, it will be reduced by 50%.
Seat belts are required for all passengers in the front and back seats.
No children under the age of 12 should be in the front seat and small children must be in an approved child safety seat in the back seat.
Your car hire agency will be able to provide a seat so let them know you need one when you reserve the car.
Talking on a mobile phone when driving is forbidden, even if you have pulled over to the side of the road. You must be completely away from the road.
Using an earpiece is also prohibited but you’re allowed to use a mobile phone with a completely hands-free unit.
Unlicensed taxi drivers
Passengers caught using unlicensed taxi services are liable for fines of up to 600€.
Make sure you book your taxi or airport transfer through a licensed firm.
Avoid all demonstrations and follow the advice of police and local authorities.
Timeshare and holiday clubs
Timeshare ownership is well established in Spain with many respected companies, agents and resorts operating legally and fairly.
However, there are also many unscrupulous companies, some of which claim to provide various incentives, which don’t always materialise.
Further information and advice is available from the Timeshare Consumers Association (TCA) and on the British Embassy website.