If you are considering moving to Spain permanently and currently hold a driving licence, it is very important that you are aware of the legal requirements in Spain. 

Guardia Civil TráficoWhether you are a full time resident in Spain or live in the country on and off throughout the year, it’s essential that you have a basic understanding of the laws. After all, you wouldn’t want to be pulled over by those nasty Guardia Civil officers only to be berated and informed that you are not driving legally would you?

There are different requirements in terms of licensing depending on a number of factors including whether you are resident, whether your current licence is an EU/EEC or non EU/EEC licence and how long you have been in the country.


Using An Existing EU Licence 

If you are coming from another EU country, hold an official driving licence there and are over 18 years of age (legal driving age in Spain) you can use this permanently when driving in Spain and will not have to exchange it for a Spanish licence. There are some things to consider though.

  • All Spanish licence conditions will apply to your EU driving licence. This means that any requirements that normally apply to Spanish licence holders including medical tests, the period of validity of the licence, penalties and other restrictions and points also apply to you.
  • If you commit any traffic offences, the Spanish authorities can request that you exchange your EU licence for a Spanish one so that points can be applied.
  • Legally, you must register with the Spanish traffic authorities (Registro Central de Conductores e Infractores) within six months of moving to Spain even if you are not looking to exchange your EU licence for a Spanish one.

Once you have registered, you will need to take a medical examination at one of the authorised drivers check centres (Centro de Reconocimiento de Conductores Autorizado) to show that you are both mentally and physically capable of driving a motor vehicle.

There have been a number of cases in the past where insurance companies will use the fact that you have not had an official medical check up to not pay out. So be warned!

Exchanging An EU Licence For A Spanish One 

If you do decide to stay in Spain permanently, then you are well advised to exchange your EU/EEC licence for a Spanish equivalent.

Although you are legally allowed to drive with a non Spanish licence, it is still a grey area even for the Spanish police. So to avoid any confusion it would be worth exchanging it within 6 months of moving to Spain.

Important: In 2015, new legislation was introduced which means that all European drivers living in Spain permanently must exchange their licenses for a Spanish one within two years. Read more here http://www.healthplanspain.com/blog/spain-news/360-expats-in-spain-must-renew-driving-licences-after-two-years.html

To apply to exchange your licence you need to complete your application at the provincial traffic headquarters. You will also need to make sure that you have the required documentation with you including:

  • Proof of identity (original passport and a copy)
  • Proof of residence (Empadronamiento or NIE)
  • Valid current driving licence (original and a copy)
  • 2 photographs 25mm x 32mm in size.
  • Declaration from the D.V.L.A that the applicant has not been banned or suspended.
  • Fee of €23.50

You can contact the D.V.L.A on 0300 790 6801 (Calling from the UK ) or +44 (0)1792 786 369 (Calling from abroad) or visit the website at http://www.dft.gov.uk/dvla/

It is also worth noting that your Spanish licence will need to be renewed like a U.K licence every 10 years up to the age of 45 and then every 5 years up to the age of 70. For any drivers over 70, the licence will need to be renewed every 2 years.

Using An Existing non EU Driving Licence

If you hold a current valid driving licence from any other country outside of the EU/EEC, you are legally ok to drive in Spain for up to 6 months from when you first became resident.

After the initial 6 months, you will need to exchange your licence for a Spanish one if you intend to remain in the country any longer.

Spain does have some reciprocal agreements with other countries including Japan, Switzerland, Andorra, Algeria, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Ecuador, Morocco, Peru, Dominican Republic, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela .

This list does change from time to time so you are well advised to check with your countries consulate in Spain for up to date information.

If your licence is from any other country, you will unfortunately need to take a full Spanish driving test.

Exchanging Your Non EU/EEC Driving Licence 

If you are the holder of a non EU/EEC licence and need to exchange it for a Spanish licence you can do so by visiting your provincial tráfico headquarters Jefatura Provincial de Tráfic. 

You will need to provide the following documentation

  • Completed application form.
  • Copy of your passport
  • NIE documentation (Número de Identificación de Extranjero)
  • Residence Card
  • Certificate of psychological aptitude issued by the authorised drivers check centre (Centro de Reconocimiento de Conductores Autorizado)
  • Two photographs of 32mm x 25mm in size.
  • Current licence and copy. (You may need a translation of the licence also)

Countries Not Permitted To Exchange Licences 

There are a few countries where there is no agreement with the Spanish authorities to change their licences. These countries are Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and the U.S.A.

This means after 6 months of being resident in Spain , you will need to sit a Spanish driving test.

How Long Does It Take To Get A New Licence?

Spain is a very bureaucratic country so you will find many things do take time. On average you should receive your new licence in around 2 months.

Related Articles

Are you driving a UK registered vehicle in Spain? Understand your legal requirements. - http://www.healthplanspain.com/blog/expat-tips/350-driving-your-uk-registered-car-in-spain.html

Updated: 4/6/2015

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