If you are considering moving to Spain permanently and currently hold a driving licence, you must be aware of the legal requirements in the country.
Whether you are a full-time resident in Spain or live in the country on and off throughout the year, you must 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 several factors including whether you are a resident, whether your current licence is an EU/EEA or non-EU/EEA licence and how long you have been in the country.
Let’s take a look at the different scenarios and whether you need to exchange your licence before driving in Spain.
UK Driving Licence Holders
The British and Spanish authorities have been in discussion since Brexit on the exchange of UK licences.
After almost two years, both governments have finally reached an agreement which was announced on November 19.
Hugh Elliott, the British Ambassador to Spain has confirmed the following.
If you are in Spain for more than six months and have still not applied to exchange your licence, you will no longer be able to legally drive in Spain until you do exchange it.
Note that ‘UK licence’ means any licence that was issued by the DVLA (Great Britain licensing authority, DVA (Northern Ireland) and the Gibraltar licensing authority.
Once the agreement has been approved by the Spanish government, it will be published in the Spanish State Gazette (BOE).
EU Driving Licence Holders
If you are coming from another EU or EEA country, hold an official driving licence there and are over 18 years of age (legal driving age in Spain) you can use this when driving in Spain, however, you may need to exchange it under certain conditions.
If your licence is currently valid, you can use this to drive in Spain until it expires, although if you wish, you may exchange it earlier for a Spanish version. Note that this is entirely voluntary.
Under what conditions must I exchange my existing EU licence for a Spanish one?
If you do exchange your licence, your current one will be withdrawn and you will be issued with a provisional licence while you await the processing of the new one. The provisional licence has a validity of 3 months and can only be used within Spanish territory.
Non-EU Driving Licence Holders
If you hold a current valid driving licence from any other country outside of the EU/EEA, you are legally ok to drive in Spain for up to 6 months from when you first became a 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 country's consulate in Spain for the latest information.
If your licence is from any other country, you will, unfortunately, need to take a full Spanish driving test to obtain your new licence.
How to Exchange Your Licence
If you need to exchange your licence for a Spanish version you can do so by visiting your provincial tráfico headquarters Jefatura Provincial de Tráfic.
You will need to make an appointment online first. Alternatively, you can make an appointment by calling 060.
You will then need to provide the following documentation during your appointment.
When do Spanish driving licences expire?
Note that your Spanish licence like in other countries will need to be periodically renewed. Currently, the periods are:-
Note that you do not have to resit the driving test.
If for medical reasons the permit is issued for less than five years, the following fees will apply.
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?
On average you should receive your new licence in around 2 months. Your provisional licence is valid for driving for up to 3 months.
Updated: June 22, 2022 CET