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How to Apply for a Spanish Driving Licence

- Updated: 24/06/2014

Whilst it is not strictly necessary to exchange your UK Licence for a Spanish one, you may find it more convenient to do so ...

How to Apply for a Spanish Driving Licence

British and other EU Citizens

Any UK driving licences that were issued prior to 1990 are invalid unless they are accompanied by an official translation into Spanish - Any infringement of this law could result in a very heavy fine being awarded, and the inconvenience of having to sort this out with the Guardia Civil and / or the DGT.

The minimum age that you are able to hold a driving licence in spain is 18 years old, so any 17 year old holding a UK licence will be unable to drive.

Spanish driving laws and regulations previously stated that licence holders were entitled to legally drive on a valid UK, or other EU licence, for a period of no more than six months - after which time they were then required to either :

  • Leave Spain
  • Not drive any road vehicle during their stay in spain
  • Apply for their UK or other EU driving licence to be approved and stamped
  • Apply for a Spanish driving licence
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Up until recently it was "recommended" for holders of an EU driving licence to obtain a Spanish driving licence after being resident in Spain for 6 months, however the DGT are now advising that such licences lose their validity altogether once this term has expired.

The British Consulate also suggests that it is advisable to exchange UK licences for Spanish ones, which are also valid for visits to the UK. In the UK the DVLA will not put a foreign address on a replacement licence, nor will they send one out of the country. Therefore, if a British licence is only registered with Spanish authorities and is lost or stolen, a replacement cannot be obtained from the UK, and Spanish authorities will not be able to replace one they did not issue.

Licence Validity & Renewals

Those wishing to renew driving licence categories BTP, C1, C1 + E, C, C + E, D1, D1 + E, D and D + E must do so every 5 years up to the age of 65, every 3 years beyond that age.

All other categories of licence have a validity of 10 years up to the age of 65, renewable every 5 years beyond that date.

To renew a licence in Spain the applicant needs a medical certificate issued by an officially recognised centre.

To apply for your driving licence to be replaced by a Spanish one

Go to your local provincial traffic headquarters (often based within the police station ) and ask to change your British driving licence for a Spanish one. They will inform you that you must undergo a medical examination (as do Spanish nationals) and give you details of how to proceed...

Take with you:

  • Your valid UK or EU driving licence
  • Your NIE certificate
  • Your Residencia paperwork
  • A photocopy of both sides of the driving licence id photograph card
  • Your passport and one photocopy
  • Two passport photographs
    • This process may vary slightly from town to town , but the above documents should cover all variations. When you have all of these documents the proceedure is usually very quick and simple.

      Your new spanish licence is also valid for driving during visits to the UK.

      To apply for your british driving licence to be stamped and registered

      Make it clear that you want your licence stamped, not replaced and proceed as above.

      Please Note:

      The practice of registering a british driving licence (photo type) can now only be carried out at main provincial police/highway authority offices, e.g., Alicante, Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia etc...

Comment on this Article

 
@ Milke : useful info, thanks for sharing !
Tumbit - Admin - Tue 24th Jun 2014
""However : As an EU citizen holding an EU type driving licence this is now only 'a recommendation'."" Not according to the DGT website (see below in Spanish). After six months residence EU licenses lack validity in Spain. La validez de los distintos permisos enumerados anteriormente, estar? condicionada a que se hallen dentro del per?odo de vigencia, su titular tenga la edad requerida en Espa?a para la obtenci?n del permiso espa?ol equivalente y, adem?s, a que no haya transcurrido el plazo de seis meses, como m?ximo, contados desde que sus titulares adquieran su residencia normal en Espa?a. Transcurrido dicho plazo, los mencionados permisos carecen de validez para conducir en Espa?a, y, si sus titulares desean seguir conduciendo, deber?n obtener permiso espa?ol, previa comprobaci?n de los requisitos y superaci?n de las pruebas correspondientes, salvo que, por existir un convenio con el pa?s que expidi? el permiso, sea posible su canje por el espa?ol equivalente.
Mike - Tue 24th Jun 2014
I see that a medical is required for applying for a Spanish drivers licence, is this absolutely necessary ? I have heard of people not having to do this! x
Lisa Clark - Sat 7th Jun 2014
1- License Validity: They are valid to lead in Spain all the permissions sent by the European Union. Other countries licenses will be valid in Spain providing that they are not expired and providing that they no more than 6 months have passed since its holder has acquired the normal residence in Spain. After these 6 months its holder will have to: - Exchange his license for a Spanish license if an agreement exists with the country that issued it:http://www.dgt.es/portal/es/oficina_virtual/conductores/canje_permisos - Obtain the Spanish permission overcoming the corresponding tests. The process to get de license: The tests to obtain the license are; a theoretical examination of 30 multiple choice questions and a practical test of traffic on public roads of approximately 25 minutes of duration. For more information, do not hesitate to contact us at: info-beethoven@corsa.cat edu_ingles@corsa.cat or call 932 003 324/ 671 09 07 25
Eduardo Garcia - Sun 6th Oct 2013
To W.D.Graham : I forgot to add that the solution to your woe might be that your new licence was due to be processed in August 2013 - and everyone at the Jefatura in Madrid went on holiday - and they are only now processing the backlog - go to your Jefatura del Trafico and ask if this is a possibility for the delay, and get an estimate for the new time of arrival.
P.h.connell - Fri 13th Sep 2013
To W.D.Graham : You should have recieved your Spanish licence in about July 2013 - mine took less than a month - and your three month provisional licence seems to have run out. You should not have waited more than a month without demanding some sort of information as to where your new licence was - it would be processed in Madrid I think. You are in trouble - ask the DVLA what to do for December - what address did you give to the Jefatura del Trafico, and what are they saying about your application - when something is not right in Spain, never wait - keep asking until you get an assurance for some date for a result.
P.h.connell - Fri 13th Sep 2013

Peter : Only the UK Authorities can apply points or a ban on a UK Licence, however, if you are legally RESIDENT in Spain then the UK can also penalise you for holding a UK Licence, This could in turn mean that the Spanish Authorities might take action against you for not having the appropriate driving licence.

Trevor : The D1E is recognised in Spain, so you will not need to re-take your test, but you will need to apply for a new Spanish Driving Licence (with this entitlement) AND undergo a medical examination.

WD Graham : Sadly, you are in the hands of the DGT and one of a great number of law-abiding expats who have fallen foul of a ridiculous system ! Do you still have an address you can use in the UK ? Maybe you could re-apply for a UK Licence on a temporary basis until your Spanish Licence comes through ?

Tumbit - Admin - Fri 13th Sep 2013
I applied for a Spanish licence June 2012. I handed my UK documents over June 2013 when I was given a document which ran out 3days ago... we hired a solicitor whom we visit weekly. We have also employed someone who visits Alicante on our behalf 3 times weekly. We have arranged to visit to the UK in December and need a licence. What should we do ??
W D Graham - Fri 13th Sep 2013
I have uk licence with d1 plus e ,( mini-bus towing a trailer)), entitlement, do I need to exchange this licence to a spanish licence to drive a mini-bus in spain, I have been offered work collecting golfers from the airport and am not sure of the current law. I took and passed a medical when I obtained the mini-bus licence,, would I need to take another medical here in spain, ?
Trevor Shaw - Thu 12th Sep 2013
If convicted of a motoring offence in Spain, do Spanish authorities have the right to remove your uk licence? Or if given a driving ban in Spain can you confirm this will not count for the uk too?
Peter Harvey - Sun 4th Aug 2013
Yes - you will have to get a Spanish licence - the DVLA will not renew your UK licence with an address outside the UK. To get a Spanish licence you must hand over your UK licence and its "paper counterpart" - I lost my "paper counterpart" and had to get the DVLA to fax a confirmation of it to the Jefatura in Valencia. It will cost 26 Euros and maybe 50 Euros for a standard medical and coordination test - the Jefatura will be surrounded by such testing places. The only problem is the trick in speaking to the right person at the DVLA.
Phconnell - Wed 12th Jun 2013
My current UK Driving Licence with my OLD UK Address on it, which I have used over the last 6 years runs out in 2014. Will I have to change to a Spanish Licence when it runs out? Also I have just turned 66 years old. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks!!
Derek - Wed 12th Jun 2013
Lesley - in theory you shouldn't, but in practice how are they going to know ? As long as you provide them a valid EU Driving Licence they are not going to check with the DVLA (Unless of course you have a bump!)
Robster - Fri 19th Apr 2013
My current valid UK driving licence has my old UK address but I am now residing in Spain can I use this licence to hire a car in England ?
Lesley Van Londen - Wed 27th Feb 2013
To Rachel Ward Everyone needs the medical - once every ten years until 65 years I think. My medical here in Valencia cost me 52 Euros and the new licence 26 Euros. The medical was daylight robbery but outside the Jefatura there are people asking questions as if they would be beggars, but they are offering medicals and other licence services at possibly cheaper prices.
P.h.connell - Wed 20th Feb 2013
Does everyone need to have a medical or is it from a certain age ? and how much is it for a new licence ?
Rachel Ward - Wed 20th Feb 2013
To Lorraine To change your UK licence to a Spanish licence it must be valid (en vigor) otherwise the Jefatura del Trafico won't consider it - and you will need the "paper counterpart" of the licence as well. If your UK licence has expired I think you will need to get it renewed in the UK first - then you can use it in Spain. Ask at your local Jefatura but I think they will only exchange a valid UK licence. Perhaps the DVLA could FAX your details - they faxed my Certificate of Entitlement - to the local Jefatura but I doubt it will work.
P.h.connell - Fri 15th Feb 2013
This is great useful information but how do I go about this if my UK licence has ran out !? I am 44 years old, but I take it I will need a medical could you please help me with where I need to go - Is it still same procedure, and just explain it has run out ? Thankyou for your help
Lorraine - Fri 15th Feb 2013

Thanks Mr Deller, your opinion on Expat Mortoring in Spain is always appreciated.

We would encourage our visitors to read your experiences and insights in your book >>>>

Tumbit - Admin - Wed 13th Feb 2013
I am studying the "new" EU Directive on the standardisation of driving licences within the EU. All 58 pages of it. The directive was formulated in 2006, but is effective from the 19th January 2013. The main change is a new chipped card type that has been made much more secure. With scam artists offering Eastern European licencs to those who have been "unfairly banned" or want a new classification without taking a test for it, it is bad news. Basically it formalises the need in Spain for all drivers regardless of where they obtained their licences in the EU, who are resident in Spain, to take the mandatory medicals as we all have had to since 2006 anyway, Ley 62/2006. Needless to say I meet a someone, an expat every day who is ignorant of this and they will get a shock if they have an accident involving injuries as that mean usually a Court case. Another point is that all those who have been resident here for two yrs. will have to get the new licence !
B J Deller - Wed 13th Feb 2013

@ Elena : Not wishing to be pedantic or anything, but that may be becuase you haven't actually asked a question ?

@ Everyone else : The vast difference in personal experiences is quite shocking and amongst other things just goes to show how the DGT have been lax in passing information on internally - let alone to the general public !

Tumbit - Admin - Tue 12th Feb 2013
I received no answer to my question
Elena Davis - Tue 12th Feb 2013
Ann - well now, my Daughter HAS been fined for NOT having a Spanish driving licence because she has been resident for 5 years and that was in Barca. We took advice and decided it wasn't worth the agro NOT to take a Spanish Licence & have changed. No medical needed because my licence expired 2015. No more worrying! lol
Jennifer Potter - Mon 11th Feb 2013
Have been to trafico in Palma de Mallorca this morning and was told that I DO NOT need to register my UK licence or have a medical until 9 January 2015 !
Ann Morrison - Mon 11th Feb 2013
Ian - this website says the changes are from 19th Jan NEXT year, but I was sure it was from THIS year...........?
Jennifer Potter - Mon 11th Feb 2013
There new regulations out Please read this and Please change your documents ASAP or face a fine. The min fine is 200€ http://www.aeaclub.org/aea-informa/205-conductores-extranjeros-renovar-carnet
Ian - Mon 11th Feb 2013
Thank you P.H.Connell
Philip Newcombe - Tue 5th Feb 2013
To Philip Newcombe: The list of Spanish requirements requires that your UK licence be "en vigor" - currently valid - to be able to exchange it for a Spanish one. You will need to get a UK address - and GP - if you wish to avoid having to go through the trouble and expense of sitting the driving test for a new Spanish licence. The arrogance of the DVLA quite literally beggars belief.
P.h.connell - Tue 5th Feb 2013
Due to an illness in 1998 my UK Licence has been issued firstly at 2 yearly intevals then to 3 year. However since I do not have a registered GP or a UK address the DVLA will not issue another. My Uk licence expired a couple of years ago so (subject to a medical) can I apply for a Spanish driving licence with an expired Uk one?
Philip Newcombe - Mon 4th Feb 2013
If changing your driving licence can i pay on my credit card ? does anyone know ?
Karin Mckeon - Mon 4th Feb 2013
Just to let you know I do now have my Spanish Driving Licence and the hold up was in England not Spain. Best of luck to all when you need one. John Collins
John Collins - Sat 26th Jan 2013
we have been today to change our UK licences to Spanish and we didn't need to take a Medical! They took the copies of whats on your list and ONE photo and said the licence would be mailed to us. Apparently they get in touch with the DVLA and once that's OK they produce the licence. We are both 60 this year and our friend is 65. Everything I have read says a medical is needed every 10 years up to 65 then 5 yearly.
Jennifer Potter - Fri 25th Jan 2013
I have all the documents to change my UK licence - still valid until 2018, though the photo expires in 2013 - to a Spainish licence, except for the Paper Counterpart which I have lost. I had a Certificate of Entitlement (COE) faxed to me from the DVLA - for 5 quid - but the Oficina del Trafico wants an original. Does anyone know what I have to do get the DVLA to send me an original COE to my address here in Spain - or to the Oficina del Trafico - I am on the verge of desperation.
P.h.connell - Mon 21st Jan 2013
Well can you believe it, I have just returned from Traffico (Alicante) with a temporary licence after applying on the 14th December 2011. After numerous phone calls to Swansea, they were apparently at fault. In an answer to JC regarding which doc's Traffico require, a certificate of Entitlement is what they want, but traffico wont take it personally, it has to come from Swansea with an official letter (as I found out when Swansea SOLD me one). Hope this helps others. DONT give up.
Mike Bibby - Fri 12th Oct 2012
I am a British citizen and my son has double nationality, Spanish and British. He has a British driving license how can he go about changing it for a Spanish one?
Wendy Harris - Fri 12th Oct 2012
I've had a similar problem to John Collins, but I applied to change my licence on 14th December 2011 and up to now (24th August 2012) have still not got my Spanish licence. Alicante Traffico tell me they have requested confirmation 3 times from Swansea, the DVLA tell me they haven't had anything from Spain. We have had 'Certificates of Entitlement' (£5.00 each) sent from Swansea, but Traffico wont accept them as there is no administration from Swansea, What next??? The photo on my licence ran out on 16th August. Heeeeeeeeeeeelp somebody. This is so frustrating.Traffico did issue a green stamped form which proves I have applied for a Spanish driving licence, I recently had to have it restamped, for police purposes, as the law now states that you now need to obtain a Spanish licence if you have been a resident in Spain for two years.
Mike Bibby - Fri 24th Aug 2012
I tried recently to change my English driving licence to a Spanish one as it was due to expire on 25/02/2012 I collected all of the documents, passport pictures etc went to the Alicante Trafico and was issued with the orginal "Premiso de Conduccion" duly stamped on the 03/02/2012. I was told that the Spanish diving licence would be posted to me within three weeks. It is now the 20/04/2012 and I still have not received it. We have contacted Trafico who say they are waiting for a response to an enquiry they have made to the DVLA? They say they always do this. I contacted the DVLA who said this was unusual and offered to send me a Certificate of Entitlement. They faxed me a copy and have also posted me a copy as well. Does anyone know what information Trafico require from the DVLA? I have a clean driving licence and have never be fined or arrested.
John Collins - Fri 20th Apr 2012
My source was the DGT website also any of the DGT approved medical centres have all the correct information I renewed my Spanish licence recently I am 75 and it will expire when I am 80
Fred Pegman - Sun 19th Feb 2012

Hi Fred, and thanks for your input.

- We are not infallible, nor do we claim to be, and appreciate updates, comments and contributions from all of our visitors. We note your original post, byt perhaps you could quote your source here ?

Tumbit - Admin - Sun 19th Feb 2012
I have sent to posts on this article re the change in spanish driving licences and you still have not bothered to amend the published information IS THERE ANY POINT IN SHOWING INCORRECT INFORMATION FOR EXPATS TO REFER TO
Fred Pegman - Sun 19th Feb 2012
We followed similar advice in Alicante in August 2011 and to date we do not have a licence or any idea when we will receive one. When we asked Traffico when a licence would be sent to us we were told quote'It will take as long as it takes'. Very helpful. We are told to do the Spanish thing and apply for a local licence but the system does care about expats.
Peter Waylett - Sun 19th Feb 2012
Does this apply regardless of your residential status ?
S Shaw - Tue 10th Jan 2012
Over 70 the licence is now renewed for 5 years unless the medical requires otherwise There is no legal requirement to have an EU licence validated by the country of residence
Fred Pegman - Tue 10th Jan 2012
Contrary to your statement there is no need whatsoever for UK driving licences to be stamped or replaced by a Spanish one for residents in Spain; unless they work professionally in road transport. However they must be accompanied by a valid Spanish medical certificate within the complicated and recently changed local regulations for periodic checks. Given that most current UK photo licences only last 10 years, it is worth exchanging for a Spanish one before you hit that problem.
F E Mattimoe - Tue 10th Jan 2012
Please amend "to 70 years and 2 years after that to 5 years thereafter until you are aged 80 I have just received mine renewal licence and it expires in november 2015 when I will be 70 and 6 months very strange
Frederick Pegman - Sat 5th Nov 2011
Many thanks Sr Deller - your book is always highly recommended by Tumbit as a source of reliable and up to date motoring info !
Tumbit - Admin - Tue 1st Nov 2011
All the facts and proof of them may be seen in the book, Motoring in Spain, temporarilly out of print while the Fourth Edition is being finished. But if your UK licence expires, you have 3 years to renew it either in the UK if you have a legal UK address (not strictly legal though) or here in Spain. Obtain a Form D737 from the DVLA. This is a certificate of your classes for which you have passed the tests. But remember that if resident here, it is fully legal to use your foreign EU licence, e.g. a current unexpired UK, as long as you obey the same administrative rules that Spanish drivers have to and one is the taking of the periodical, simple medicals at the special clinics (reconcimientoes).. Toimnot take nthe medicals meansd that youtr licencve wille expire in Spain (and the EU) and you will probaly not find out until in a Court of law where the other driver's lawyer will tell te Court that you had no driving licence as you lose the accident case.
B J Deller - Tue 1st Nov 2011
Thanks Old Timer I will certainly give it a go.
Phil Newcombe - Thu 1st Sep 2011
My understanding is that you can apply for a Spanish Licence from an expired UK Licence, but you may still need to go through a Medical Exam in Spain to prove your fitness to drive.
Old Timer - Tue 30th Aug 2011
Due to an illness I have had to have my UK driving license renewed, subject to medical reports, firstly for one year, then two and that last time it was for three years. Since then I have moved to Spain and was told by the DVLA that I can no longer renew my license because I do not have GP in the UK (or a UK address). My medical reports came from my consultant at the hospital not from my GP anyway. My license expired some time ago. Can I still apply for a Spanish driving license even if my UK one is out of date?
Phil Newcombe - Tue 30th Aug 2011
Good advice Craig - this seems to be one of the 'bar stool hero's' favourite subjects (along with not bothering to import a UK car). Nice to read a first-hand account aswell.
Mr Grumpy - Sun 1st May 2011
I exchanged my licence for a spanish one. It was very painless. I read (like in a previous comment) and hear from many of the practice of obtaining a duplicate licence ffrom the UK prior to exchange. When I initially attended the traffic office I took all the required documents and paid the fee. After going to the window I was sent away still with my UK licence and told they would write to me when they had had confirmation from the UK that my licence was valid. They said that whilst waiting for their letter I should go and have my medical. I did all this, recieved the letter and went back. At this stage they took the UK licence off me and issued me a Spanish card temporary licence stating that the new plastic licence would be with me in a couple of weeks. It was. Out of interest after having my Spanish plastic licence for a few weeks I called the DVLA in Swansea and simply asked "what is the status of my licence". They found me on the computer and simply answered that I do not
Craig Shaw - Sun 1st May 2011
Like a lot of expats, I didn't want to give up my UK driving license, so I reported it as being lost on the DVLA website. You can order a duplicate copy online for 20 Quid and that way when you hand your old copy in to the Traffico you will still have a copy to keep. Not stictly legal, but works for me.
Paul Coulson - Wed 24th Nov 2010
A very big thank you Tumbit.I now realise that for the last 3 years I have been really fortunate .I had my UK license stolen and i thought carrying the denuncia was adequate! Having read your articles,almost everything I have been doing is illegal.Time to sort it out.Again thanks
Will Park - Sat 3rd Jul 2010
Cheers Paul! Whilst we acknowledge that the procedures do vary from Region to Region, we will modify our list of recommended / required documents to take - always better to be over-prepared.
Tumbit - Admin - Sat 26th Jun 2010
Further to my visit to Trafico for the 2nd time, it seems you also need your Residencia paper, or Permit of Residence ( a copy and the original to show them ). I was also told by Trafico that because Britain is in the EU, our British driving licence is fine to drive with, and not just for 6 months only. I've decided to have both for piece of mind!
Paul Attard - Sat 26th Jun 2010
the above bullet points are correct except for one: where it says a copy of your NIE form, i'm afraid that's not quite correct. They need to see the ORIGINAL. If you think you've got all the paperwork, you can bet your life there's something missing. They love to frustrate you!!! It'll cost €26 too. Suggest you look at their website under "trafico" to double check!!
Paul Attard - Wed 23rd Jun 2010
Fernando, In the UK the advice given to Businesses is NOT to recognise a non-UK license, and I would assume that the same is true in Spain. It may help your case to do the following 2 things : contact the issuer of your license to confirm this and also to obtain a sworn translation that you can keep with your license when applying for vacancies.
Tumbit - Admin - Thu 29th Apr 2010
Hi, can you please tell me if you know if my British forklift and reach truck driving licenses can be exchanged, or recognised in Spain?
Fernando Fabbri - Wed 28th Apr 2010
I passed my theory test with this page http://www.englishdrivingschool.com they have a lot of test in english.
Jason Miller - Mon 25th Jan 2010