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Spain – Driving Licenses

Spain is a popular destination for tourists and expats alike. If you are planning to drive in Spain as a foreign national, it is important to understand the rules and regulations governing driving licenses. In this article, we will answer some common questions related to driving licenses in Spain.

Using Your License in Spain

Foreign nationals who are residents in Spain can use their valid driving license from their country of origin for the first six months after arriving in Spain. After this period, they must obtain a Spanish driving license.

Non-residents can use their valid driving license for up to six months in Spain. After this period, they may be required to obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP).

Exchanging Driving Licences in Spain

There are some agreements in place between Spain and certain countries which allow for the exchange of a foreign driving license for a Spanish one without the need for a driving test. These countries include the European Union member states, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland.

Foreign nationals from other countries will generally be required to take a driving test to obtain a Spanish driving license.

Exchanging, Obtaining and Renewing a Driving License in Spain

Exchanging a driving license


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If you are a resident in Spain and hold a driving license from one of the countries with which Spain has an agreement for the exchange of licenses, you may be able to exchange your license for a Spanish one without taking a driving test.

To exchange your license, you will need to make an appointment at the traffic department (Jefatura de Tráfico) in your province of residence. You will need to provide the following documents:

  • Valid passport
  • Residence permit (if applicable)
  • Valid driving license
  • Official translation of the driving license (if necessary)
  • Medical certificate (if necessary)

You may also need to pay a fee for the exchange of your license.

Obtaining a driving license

If you are not eligible to exchange your foreign driving license for a Spanish one, you will need to take a driving test in order to obtain a Spanish driving license.

The process for obtaining a Spanish driving license involves taking a theoretical test and a practical driving test. You will need to apply for a provisional driving license (permiso de aprendizaje) before taking the tests.

Theoretical test: The theoretical test consists of 30 multiple-choice questions related to road safety and traffic regulations. You must answer at least 27 questions correctly to pass.

Practical driving test: The practical test consists of a driving exam with an examiner. You will need to demonstrate your ability to drive safely and follow traffic regulations.

Renewing a driving license

A Spanish driving license is valid for 10 years. To renew your driving license, you will need to make an appointment at the traffic department (Jefatura de Tráfico) in your province of residence. You will need to provide the following documents:

  • Valid passport
  • Current driving license
  • Medical certificate (if necessary)

You may also need to pay a fee for the renewal of your license.

International Driving Permits in Spain

An International Driving Permit (IDP) is recognized in Spain as long as it is accompanied by a valid driving license from your country of origin. The IDP is valid for one year and can be used for driving a vehicle of any type, as long as the vehicle is covered by the category of the license.

Penalty system for motoring offences

In Spain, traffic regulations are enforced by the traffic police, Guardia Civil de Tráfico, who have the authority to issue fines for traffic offences. The amount of the fine depends on the severity of the offence and can range from €100 to €600,000. In addition to fines, there are other penalties such as the loss of points on a driver’s license.

The Spanish driving license system is based on a points system. Every driver starts with 12 points, and points are deducted for traffic violations. Serious violations can result in a loss of all points and the suspension of the driver’s license. The number of points deducted for an offence varies depending on the severity of the violation. For example, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol can result in the loss of 6 points, while not wearing a seatbelt can result in the loss of 3 points.

If a driver loses all of their points, they must complete a course on traffic safety and take a new driving test to regain their license. If a driver commits a traffic offence that results in the loss of points, they will receive a notification from the Directorate-General for Traffic (DGT) informing them of the points lost and the fine to be paid. If the driver chooses to pay the fine within a specified period, they may receive a discount on the fine amount.

In addition to fines and point deductions, serious traffic violations can result in criminal charges. For example, causing an accident that results in injury or death can result in criminal charges of reckless driving or manslaughter.

In conclusion, foreign nationals in Spain can use their own driving license for a limited period of time before they are required to exchange it for a Spanish license. The exchange procedure varies depending on the country of origin and may require a driving test or additional documentation. An International Driving Permit is recognized in Spain and can be used in conjunction with a foreign driving license. The penalty system for motoring offences in Spain includes fines, point deductions, and criminal charges for serious violations. It is important for foreign nationals to familiarize themselves with Spanish traffic regulations and to follow them to avoid penalties and fines.


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