Spain Explained

Spanish driving licence: Do you need to obtain one? How can you do it?

It’s been one of the longest lasting debates in the forums in Spain. Must you exchange your foreign driver’s licence for a Spanish driving licence? The camps have been equally divided for years and you will hear countless stories in the bars about people who were told this, or that, or even the other.

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Must you exchange your foreign driver’s licence for a Spanish driving licence?

So what is the latest?  If you are a resident of Spain with a licence issued in another EU country then you must change your driving licence within two years of becoming a resident if your licence doesn’t comply with Spanish law.  Currently some driving licences have no expiry date and others have one of 15 years or more. In Spain, a Spanish driving licence is valid for 10 years up to the age of 65. After the age of 65 you must renew it every 5 years. The licence you hold must have the same time limits or needs changing.

If this applies to you, you must change your licence whether it has expired or not. Of course, if you wish, you can apply for a Spanish driving licence before you have been a resident for two years. After all, why not?

The new campaign

The reason everyone is talking once more about driving licences has its routes in a recent press campaign. The campaign for foreigners to exchange their foreign driver’s licence for a Spanish driving licence began on Monday 19th January 2015.   Those not complying have been threatened with the risk of having a 200€ fine.

There are differing reports of just how punitive the campaign will be. Some sources suggest that at this point expats holding a valid driving licence from their home country will not be fined. Instead traffic police will advise them to exchange it. Either way, you would be wise not to leave yourself vulnerable to the mood of the officer in charge.

How to get a Spanish driving licence?

If you need to change your licence you have two options. You can either do it yourself or you can pay someone to do it for you.

If you choose to do it alone then you can expect to have at least two trips backwards and forwards to Trafico. First of all you must make an appointment (cita previa) which can be made either on the DGT site www.dgt.es or by calling the free 060 hotline. Then you must take in the correct paper work.

To renew your licence you will need:

  • An official application form which can be downloaded from the Traffic Department and is on the website of the DGT
  • Proof of identity (passport)
  • Residencia (and copy)
  • Padron (proof of your address from the town hall) renewed within the last three months
  • Driving licence card and counterpart
  • A recent photograph 32mm x 26mm
  • Payment of 23.50€

You may also require a medical examination and must find a designated clinic where you will be tested for eyesight, hearing, pulse and blood pressure, speed of reaction and judgement of speed.

Once you have applied, the Spanish authorities will need to obtain a certificate of entitlement from the DVLA if you are a UK resident, or the equivalent for those holding a licence from another country. This can sometimes hold up the process, but you should still have your original licence which won’t be taken off you until a later date. When you do have to submit your licence then you receive a form which authorises you for driving in Spain whilst you wait for your actual licence to arrive.

If you pay someone to do it for you, the process overall is the same but you will need to sign a form giving your representative permission to apply for a Spanish driving licence on your behalf. You will have to pay but it certainly cuts out the leg work.

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Your Spanish driving licence will then be sent out in the post and can take anything from a few weeks to a few months (and it has been reported years!) to arrive. Once it does you can at last rest assured that whatever the gossip is about driving licences in Spain, yours is the real deal.

More information

  • For more information about the process of getting a licence, Help Vega Baja have produced a leaflet that clearly explains the step-by-step process
  • DGT website

Thanks once more to Graham Shelton of Spanish Number Plates for his help in understanding the situation.

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20 comments

Alicia

3 November, 2016 1:31 am

I’ve found the most complete
I’ve found the most complete website until the moment to test my knowledge to get the theory exam. Is http://www.practicatest.com/en/spanish-driving-test . You can do as many exams as you want (I think there are at least 2000 different) and in different categories: DGT exams, intelligent tests etc… They also have the theoretical book online for free. I highly recommend it. I hope this to be helpful.

June Harrild

14 November, 2016 9:08 am

How do I go about replacing a
How do I go about replacing a lost spanish driving license here in Lanzarote

Suzanne O'Connell

17 November, 2016 11:44 am

Hi June

Hi June

You will need to either go directly yourself to your local Trafico office or you can hire a gestor to do it for you. 

SAMUEL ORCHARD

22 December, 2016 4:55 pm

I AM A FISCAL RESIDENT IN
I AM A FISCAL RESIDENT IN SPAIN AGED 76.MY SPANISH DRIVING LICENCE EXPIRES 12/01/1917.
COULD YOU ADVISE ME ON PROCEEDURE FOR THE RENEWAL OF MY DRIVING LICENCE.
REGARDS
SAMUEL ORCHARD
TEL 693867633

Suzanne O'Connell

28 December, 2016 11:46 am

Dear Samuel

Dear Samuel

Thanks for getting in touch. I'm not an expert in this area and procedures do vary to some extent depending upon where you are living. My advice would be to approach a local gestoria who speaks English. They will be able to give you up-to-date advice and carry it out for you, if you wish. 

Kristianjay

18 April, 2017 9:59 pm

I’m 23 years old now and i
I’m 23 years old now and i lived here in spain for almost 5 years and i have a spanish nationality but i’m filipino.. and my question is can i exchange my driving philippine License to spanish license?? But my philippine license is a year 2017and its new… can you please help me if i can change that for spanish license?? Thnkyou so much!!

Suzanne O'Connell

19 April, 2017 9:12 am

Hi Kristianjay

Hi Kristianjay

I am not an expert on this but I suspect you may have to take your test again but this time in Spain. I don't think you will just be able to exchange one for the other. I'm not sure where exactly in Spain you're living. I know that in Torrevieja there is a foreigners' office where you can go to find out more about issues like this. Here it is called the OARI office. 

Suzanne O'Connell

26 April, 2017 10:39 am

To add to the previous

To add to the previous comment. According to this website if you are from the Philippines then you do not need to take your test again.  

kristian

11 May, 2017 11:52 am

But my license need to be 2
But my license need to be 2 years used am i right??before exchanging to spanish license

Suzanne O'Connell

18 May, 2017 9:09 am

Hi Kristian

Hi Kristian

Referring to the same article it seems that you have six months during which you can drive with your current licence before exchanging it. 

soumia meliani (Mrs)

21 April, 2017 7:08 pm

I live in Fuengirola and am
I live in Fuengirola and am holding a valid Moroccan driving licence. I would like to change this licence into the Spanish Driving Licence. I have been granted the green card for the Spanish residency. I have proof of your address from the town hall was issued to me in September 2016. Two days ago I have carried out the eye and medical test and I have got this certificate. Could you please advise me who I should contact to follow this to me in Trafico and how much the cost is (if you know) and how long it takes.

Suzanne O'Connell

26 April, 2017 10:40 am

Hi Soumia

Hi Soumia

I came across this article which includes details of what you need from Expatica  

Mansour

29 April, 2017 10:54 pm

Hello, My name is mansour. I
Hello, My name is mansour. I am from Pakistan and i have driving licence from my country. Is it possible to change my license into spanish? Thanks
Regards
Mansour

Suzanne O'Connell

3 May, 2017 7:48 am

Hi Mansour

Hi Mansour

I can not see any reference to Pakistan on the list of countries where it is possible to exchange licences. Therefore you would probably need to take your test again in Spain. To be sure of this I would suggest that you go to a gestoría who should be able to find out exactly what the situation is for you. 

Willie

31 May, 2017 12:07 pm

hello,
hello,
i have philippine drivers license since i got here in spain but for motorbike only,and just last march 2017,when i take my vacation in the philippines i renew and got a license for car,is it possible to exchage it to spanish license?someone told me that i cannot exchange it for spanish license,i just wonder if it is true?thankyou so much

Suzanne O'Connell

7 June, 2017 8:09 am

 

 

Hi Willie,

According to this Expatica article people from the Philippines are eligible to exchange their driving licence for a Spanish one provided they can provide the correct paperwork as identified in the article.  

Dennis John vasey

3 June, 2017 6:47 pm

I am resident in Spain and
I am resident in Spain and wish to have a Spanish driving licence

Suzanne O'Connell

7 June, 2017 8:14 am

Hi Dennis

Hi Dennis

Your best option is to go to a local gestoría who will be able to advise you about the process and do it for you if you wish, for a fee of course. 

Peter

25 June, 2020 10:09 pm

Is it compulsory for US driver licence owner to retake a theory and driving test in Spain if he takes residence in Spain?

Oscar Paoli

25 June, 2020 11:27 pm

Hi Peter,
We are no experts in this matter, but from clients in your situation most of the have retaken the theory and driving test in Spain after a certain period of time, but this might have changed in recent times. Our recommendation it to contact our partners Orke Servicios who deal with these matters. You can find their services and contact details in the following address:
http://orkeservicios.net/
Wishing you best of luck.
Kind regards,
Ábaco Advisers