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Driving Licenses

Spain - Driving Licenses

There are different rules regarding driver’s licences in Spain depending upon where you come from. Some drivers are allowed to keep their own or simply exchange it for a Spanish one (licencia de conduccion), some are required to exchange it and some cannot be exchanged so those people need to take a Spanish driving test, which has both practical and theory sections.

Those who have an EU licence are permitted to drive using that licence in Spain providing the holder is a minimum 18 years of age. There is no requirement for the licence to be exchanged but it can be done if the holder wishes. Those who choose to keep their EU licence should be aware that Spanish conditions are attached to the licence while they are in Spain. This includes the period of validity, the requirement for medical examinations, the tax payments and any penalties which are incurred. If there are any penalties to be applied the authorities may request that the holder obtains a Spanish licence to make the process easier.

While there is no requirement for EU drivers to change their licence, there is a requirement to register with the traffic authorities within 6 months of arrival in Spain. This should be done at the Central Register of Drivers at their local traffic office. Following registration drivers will need to undergo a medical examination. These can be done at authorised centres (centro de reconocimiento de conductores autorizado). They will be tested on both physical and mental fitness.

It should also be noted that even though it is legal to drive on an EU licence, the country that issued it will not allow a change of address to another country. The Spanish authorities are happy to recognise that the licence may not bear the actual address of the holder.

If a change of licence is the preferred option the holder simply needs to go to the local traffic office and make an application. They will need to see proof of ID, such as a passport, proof of residency status, original valid driver’s licence, a written declaration to confirm that the applicant has not been suspended from driving, a declaration to show that the holder does not have another licence in another country and two recent passport-sized photographs. The Spanish licence is the size of a credit card and will be sent via the postal service. This will need to be renewed every 10 years if the holder is under the age of 45, every five years after the age of 45 and below the age of 70 and every two years from the age of 70 onwards.

Those who are from countries outside the EU are able to drive on their original licence for up to 6 months after they have obtained Spanish residency status. While driving on this original licence it is a requirement to have a Spanish translation with you at all times.

There are some exchange agreements in place between Spain and several other countries which allow a simple exchange when this initial 6 months has passed. These countries include Switzerland, South Korea and Japan, as well as a number of South American countries. This list is updated regularly and can be checked with the local traffic office. Those from a country not on the list will have to take the Spanish driving test.

The documentation for exchanging a driver’s licence from a non-EU country is similar to that for an EU licence, but also includes a certificate of psychological aptitude which has been issued following a medical examination, written confirmation that the original licence is authentic.

Each driver starts out with 12 points and with no offences, this can be raised to 15 points. Points are deducted for any driving misdemeanour. A list of offences and the relevant points can be obtained from the local traffic office. There is a search facility on the website of the traffic department for drivers to check their current points level. Those who are not officially resident in the country will simply be fined for traffic offences but it is expected that these will be paid on the spot.

Useful Resources

Direccion General de Trafico
Spanish Traffic Department
Tel: + 34 902 508 686

Read more about this country

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