All foreign driving licences are valid in Spain when you first move to the country.
However, once you have settled in the country you need to exchange your licence for a Spanish one or in some cases, take and pass the test in order to obtain a licence.
This blog post tells you all you need to know about driving licences in Spain.
Need to know
The minimum age to drive a car in Spain is 18.
You cannot drive a car if you’re younger even if you have a driving licence issued in another country permitting you to drive.
UK and US nationals therefore must wait until they’re 18 before they can drive.
When you’re driving in Spain you must carry your driving licence with you at all times.
Traffic police carry out spot checks and drivers who cannot show a valid licence get a fine.
Spanish driving licences must be renewed every ten year. Once you reach 65, you must renew your licence every five years.
Types of licence
Licence types range from A1, the lowest grade and valid only for motorcycles up to 125cc, to DE, the highest and for heavy-duty lorries. The usual licence class for a car is B, valid for vehicles weighing up to 3,500kg and carrying a maximum of eight people.
Spanish driving licences are the size of a credit card and include your photo, personal details, licence validity and type of licence (see above).
They cannot be used as proof of identity – you need a passport, resident permit or and national identity card for this.
All foreign driving licences are valid in Spain when you first arrive. If you’re an EEA national (EU countries plus Iceland, Norway and Switzerland), the licence from your home country remains valid until you have lived in Spain for two years. If your licence is from a non-EEA country, it is valid for six months after your arrival.
Exchanging or renewing your licence
Holders of EEA driving licences who have been in Spain for two years must exchange their licence for the Spanish equivalent or renew their licence for a Spanish one.
In practice, the two procedures are broadly similar, although if you choose to exchange your licence you don’t need to take a medical fitness test.
Note – if you’ve been living in Spain for two years or more and don’t exchange or renew your licence, you can be fined €200.
You exchange or renew your driving licence at a Department of Traffic office, situated in all provincial capitals and some large cities. You can see a list of offices here.
Getting an appointment
Gone are the days of queuing for hours and possibly not being seen by anyone at all. Nowadays, getting an appointment with the Traffic Department is easy and best of all, the schedule mostly keeps to time. Here’s how to book one:
- Click on this link
- Choose the office you want to go to in the drop down menu ‘Selecciona oficina’.
- In ‘tipo de trámite’, if your current licence is from an EEA country choose ‘canje de permisos de conducción europeos’. If it’s from a non-EEA country, choose ‘canje de permisos de conducción’.
- Click ‘Continuar’ and then choose your country from the dropdown menu ‘Países’.
- Next, the website warns you that you can only ever have one appointment for exchanging your licence. Click ‘Continuar’ again.
- Fill in your personal details including date of birth and your NIE number, your licence number and the type you wish to exchange (B is the usual class for cars).
- Click ‘Continuar’ and choose your appointment for available dates.
Top tip – arrive 15 minutes early for your appointment. It doesn’t happen very often but occasionally people are seen early.
To exchange your driving licence you need the following:
- The completed form. If you’re renewing your licence, you can download a copy here.
- If you’re exchanging your licence, download a copy here.
- Proof of your identity and your NIE number.
- Your original licence plus one photocopy.
- A certificate of medical fitness if you’re renewing your licence.
- One photo.
- While you’re there, you sign a document stating that you are fit to drive and have no other driving licence.
The exchange costs €27.70 and the renewal €23.50. You can pay by card at the Department of Traffic.
Read our top ten tips for driving in Spain.