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DGT Clarifies UK / Spanish Driving Licence Requirements

Source: Costa Consulting Bureau - Wed 23rd Jan 2013
DGT Clarifies UK / Spanish Driving Licence Requirements

This morning Costa Consulting Bureau were kind enough to share the information that the DGT in Malaga had send to them with regards to the confusion over the changes to the Spanish / UK driving licence regulations. The letter sent in reply to their questions reads as follows :

"This morning I phoned you to talk about the new rules in driving license for foreign residents in Spain. We have read your web page and we can answer some of the questions and be helpful. Also, we'd like to add that it's first-hand information since Centro Medico Avenida has spoken directly with the Manager of the Driving License Department of Trafico in Malaga and asked all these questions.

In 2009 there was approved the new Rules of Driving License in Spain. These rules established that in the 19th of January of 2013 it would come into force a law that said that all European residents who have been living in Spain for more than 2 years, and had not got the European driving license, had to be inscribed in the office of Trafico in Malaga. The inscription means that they have to renovate their UK licenses. For doing that, they need to go to Trafico and hand in the following documents: application form of renovation, pay taxes of renovation (less that 30), medical certificate, and a photo. In case the residents don't update their UK licenses in Trafico, they will be fined with 200.

Not all residents have to renovate their UK licenses. All residents who have the European driving license, that is the plastic card with the date of expiration in the front side, don't have to renew their UK licenses. Their driving license is correct. But those residents who have the old format UK driving license, that is a paper, they need to go to Trafico to renovate their licenses.

Apart from renewing the UK driving license, the resident has another option, he can apply for the Spanish driving license. The drawback of this election is that they will have to leave their UK driving license in Trafico, since the law establishes that it is illegal to have more than one driving license, one Spanish and another British. So, the disadvantage would be that if the resident decides to return to UK he will have to apply again for the driving license in UK. If he finally decides to apply for the Spanish driving license, he needs to go to Trafico and fill in an application form, pay taxes (27,40; it went up this year, last year was 26), and a photo. In case the UK driving license is going to expire in short, he will need also a medical certificate. Only in that case he will need a medical certificate.

I've also read your web page that somebody asked if there was 2 years grace in which this law come into force. You can anwer that it is not correct. The law entered into force the 19th of January of 2013. Maybe the person who informed her read the publication which Trafico made in its web page in which established an example saying that if a person started to live in Spain in 2013, in 2015 (2 years after) will have to renew his UK driving license. This question has been answered too by the Manager of the Driving License Department in Trafico.

Finally, we'd like to say that Centro Medico Avenida does the whole process in case that the residents have to renew their Spanish driving license. They just come to our Centro Medico and pass the medical revision and we renew their licenses and give them their provisional driving license. They just need to bring their NIE, Passport and Spanish driving license. No photo is needed. We'll take them a photo for the new license. They won't need to go to Trafico. In the Centro Medico Avenida they will pay for the medical certificate and the taxes of Trafico (22,90 if they are below 70 years, if they are upper 70 years they don't have to pay the taxes of Trafico)."

Thanks again to Costa Consulting Bureau .

Comment on this Story

hola. soy espanola y acabo de pasar mi teorico en espana y me gustaria saber si puedo hacer el practico en inglaterra ya que es donde vivo. es eso possible?
Mariluz - Tue, 11th Dec 2018
Talk about two Spaniards and three or more opinions! Totally different to what i was told by trafico Malaga and medical office in Estepona this week. I have a newly renewed UK photo card licence January 1st and i am over 70. I have just paid 40 for a medical it seems I don't need as i have a NEW renewed UK licence and I don't need to pay taxes at trafico as I am over 70.. The whole thing is in stark contrast to the UK where it was all FREE to over 70s and done on-line and used my passport photo on file and in my hand in 5 days, over the new year too.
Peter Lee - Thu, 21st Jan 2016
This carousel of continuously writing about the proper effects of Directive 2006/126/EC is having a counter effect when attempting to give advice to others, especially where such advice represents information passed on 2nd hand by persons who either have little understanding in the matter, or where they lack proper communication skills. The current article, in the context where it refers t a two year period, is inaccurate in material content, as is the poorly worded matter of exchanging a valid British EU model for a Spanish model and where additional advice could have been given. I should liked to have clarified matters, but find myself restricted by limitation as to comment . Further, I have also noted the posts about delays when exchanging licences, although no one appears to have taken this on board. There is a solution out there, but regrettably I can no longer be all things to all men/women.
David R.burrage - Tue, 13th Oct 2015
Hi Christine. Luckily my husbands license turned up 3 weeks ago, but when we went back to the Gestoria to chase them they admitted they had people waiting for their licenses from January! Very frustrating if you need to go back to the UK and hire a car! If they want us to change from UK to Spanish they should be a little more efficient.
Judy Sermon - Tue, 13th Oct 2015
Hi Judy. I see no one has replied to your message and I cannot advise you, but as I applied through the gestoria in Denia in MARCH I'd also like to know what I can do. Each week I chase this up at the gestoriaand they just shrug their shoulders!
Christine Hatcher - Tue, 13th Oct 2015
Referring to your info regarding the current position with driving licences. Not sure why you have copied me in, because I gave out this advice immediately following the relevant part of Directive 2006/126/EC entering into force on 19 January 2013. I also sent my advice to the then Consul at Alicante. There is absolutely nothing complicated for those with a class B driving licence, matters are somewhat complicated with certain other classes of vehicle, including motor cycles and the permutation are too varied, not only with regard to the changes as set out in that Directive, especially where a number of the provisions have been left within the competence of the Member States, for me to give a one fits all response If others chose to ignore my advice, or otherwise allow themselves to be led astray, then be it on their own heads
David R. Burrage - Thu, 27th Aug 2015
My husband has applied for a Spanish driving license through a gestoria in Santa Pola inJune but has still not received his new license. Is there any way we can chase them please?
Judy Sermon - Wed, 26th Aug 2015
Not sure as to why your PC is unable to paste and copy. It works when I do a test. Try highlighting the link, hit the Ctrl key together with the letter C. Open up your browser and hit the Ctrl key, this time together withy the letter V and then click on search. Alternatively type Directive 2006/126/EC into your browser and hit the search key. If that doesn't open up the Directive then I suggest you take your PC in for repair. David R. Burrage
David R.burrage - Mon, 2nd Mar 2015
Hi Michael, a copy of this directive can be obtained from the British Consulate in Malaga. For some reason I am unable to copy and paste here. My email is
Alex Anderson - Mon, 2nd Mar 2015
Whoever provided the information under, "DGT Clarifies UK / Spanish Driving Licence Requirements" does no such thing as clarifying the matter of the new procedures concerning driving licences. The information provided under that heading should be disregarded. Your members would do better by visiting our website where in our posting of 13/03/2013 we have not only provided an accurate guide to the current Directive 2006/126/EC, we also include links to the DGT's website, which is in full conformity with the Directive. Whoever provided that information which led to that publication was talking from the wrong end of the horse. I am tearing my hair out over all this wildly inaccurate misinformation. I have let my views be known direct to Tumbit. The person seeking a copy of the Directive can down-load it with this link; David R.Burrage Legal adviser
David R. Burrage - Mon, 2nd Mar 2015
Hi Alex Anderson do you have a copy of the directive you can email me with. It would be much appreciated. Many thanks Michael
Michael - Mon, 2nd Mar 2015
Oh Dear, Oh Dear, This is such a simple matter. All licences of the EU model (plastic) in respect of group B, i.e. p.m.c's with a validity of no more than 15 years on date of issue must be mutually recognised within the EU regardless of where you reside. The UK have been issuing these since 1998 with a validity of 10 years. The only UK licences which must be exchanged within 2 years of taking up residence in another Member State are the old open ended licences such as the green paper licence valid to age 70 years. The EU Directive is perfectly clear and has been correctly transposed by Spain vide Royal Decree 818/2009 of 8 May. Ms. Howarth you were unlawfully fined and should have protested the matter to your Provincial Office of the DGT.
David R.burrage - Fri, 20th Feb 2015
I was also stopped by the Garda and given a 200 euro fine for driving on my EU licence because I had lived in pain longer than 2 years. This was and is totally illegal!! I got a copy of a EU directive from the Consulate in Malaga which was sent to the head of traffic in Madrid.This states that Spain must recognise other EU countries driving licences. That it is not compulsory to exchange it or register it here in Spain. I took this directive and the fine to Traffico in Granada and the fine got squashed. They know full well that these fines are illegal but still issue them.
Alex Anderson - Wed, 21st Jan 2015
I was stopped by Guardia Civil in 2012, they checked my documents and because I am a fiscal resident in Spain I was fined 200 euros for not having a Spanish licence. I do have the plastic eu licence and believed this gives me the right to legally drive in any European country. My Spanish solicitor told me my eu licence was fully legal but Trafico are a law unto themselves and I would have to take it up with them. I paid the fine - if you pay within a certain period you only have to pay half. Felt cheated and still do.
Laurette Howarth - Wed, 21st Jan 2015
Just a quick question, I have an eu licence all in date, im 54 years old, do I have to have a medical even though I am not changing my eu licence to a spanish one.....
Neil - Wed, 21st Jan 2015

Michelle : First of all we need to point out that our comments are OUR interpretation / understanding of the current law. We are only human, and welcome the fact that any of our contributors may be more savvy with these issues than we are...

Secondly, you need to consider the legalities from the perspective of BOTH the DVLA in the UK AND the DGT in Spain ; Being legally compliant with one does not necessarily mean you are with the other....

And to address your original question, the DVLA will NOT issue you with a replacement UK Licence unless you are legally resident at the named address. Your option is really only to apply for a Spanish licence with the DGT. Unfortunately there is a lot of conflicting information out there, and neither the DVLA themselves or the British Embassy seem particularly willing to clarify the situation.

A couple of more recent news articles on the subject HERE and HERE may help explain a little more...

Tumbit - Admin - Wed, 21st Jan 2015
Thank you for the updates on the DGT clarifies UK/Spanish Driving License Requirements. Could you help me, please? My husband lost his UK driver's licence when we moved here. I've found out that you need to have a UK address and bills in your name to get a UK driving licence. So you have to be living in UK to get a renewal !! I thought that if you are British - born in UK you would always be able to get a licence if you lost the original. Anywhere in the world.. Michelle
Michelle - Wed, 21st Jan 2015
Alex, please can you let me know where you saw this, and is it in Spainsh? To show a Traffico this document, is going to be a very diplomatic exercise. To tell a Traffico that driving thus is Not illegal is almost tantamount to calling him/her a liar and a denouncia would be almost certainly winging its way towards you.
Mac Mcquinn - Wed, 21st Jan 2015
Current EEC law says that it is not obligatory to change or register your UK licence. It is illegal of Spain to put a 2 year time frame on UK residents in Spain to change or register their licences. Fines they have been issuing are TOTALLY illegal!!
Alex Anderson - Mon, 19th Jan 2015
I lost my spanish driving license, I now live in the UK, do I need to apply for my spanish license again and replace it for a uk one or can I apply for the UK one directly
Franco - Wed, 12th Nov 2014
Help! My driving license ran out in 2011 its a UK one can i apply for a Spanish one to be able to drive again? I'm a resident here in Spain and have just realized its out of date. Regards.
Brookes Julie - Mon, 15th Sep 2014
My uk photo license expires in 2020, if i don't exchange it for a Spanish license do i have to register my uk license with traffico or have a medical or am i ok as i am? I am 60 years old
Jane Brown - Fri, 12th Sep 2014
#Donna - My understanding is that you will not be fined because you have the PHOTO UK license. However, since you have residency, it makes sense to get the Spanish license. It will save you a load of hassle in the long run. Obviously, you'll have to surrender your UK license. There is no reason why you should be fined.
Ed Bishop - Mon, 14th Jul 2014
Hello, My UK PHOTCARD licence expires in Sept 2014 I got my residency here in 2007. Will I be fined if I apply for a Spanish Drivers Licence now? Any advice please.
Donna - Thu, 10th Jul 2014
Hi, I believe that he can ask the DVLA for a certificate of proof of his qualification to drive and then take that to Trafico and apply for a Spanish DL. YOU CANNOT drive during this time anywhere and it can take up to 3 months to get it sorted. This is the worst case senario that you can hit when you lose your DL so contact the DVLA and ask if this still applies.
Bob - Fri, 6th Dec 2013
Dear guys - I thought I'd sent you a message but ... So, this is just a a quickie. Just to let you know, we don't have a car and have not driven yet. Until he gets a license we won't drive. He let them know via email that he lived in Spain so we can't use a UK address.
Michelle - Thu, 14th Nov 2013
Michelle : Is it both the Card part AND the Paper part of the licence he has lost ? Also - I think the trick here is to play the game... When I moved to Spain I first registered a change of address with the DVLA to my parent's UK address to ensure that any future correspondence posted out would find it's way to me. If you still have a friend or family member in the UK you might be able to register a Change of Address and Lost licence at the same time - but this will definitely involve bending a few rules. I think you are really looking at starting a fresh in taking the driving test again here in Spain !
Robster - Tue, 12th Nov 2013
@Michelle - This is a tough one... How have you survived so long in Spain without a licence? Without a UK address you will have a problem renewing your licence period. Spanish law says you MUST carry your licence with you whenever you are driving. It is an offense not to carry one. The only solution I can offer is that you apply for the Spanish licence. You might need a few lessons, but as it stands at the moment, I think you are driving illegally in Spain. Can anyone else chip in with some solutions?
Ed Bishop - Tue, 12th Nov 2013
Dear Sir/Madam, We are from UK although we haven't lived there for about 20 years. We have only lived in Spain now (Mallorca) for over 2 years. We are Spanish residents - have NIE numbers, medical cards etc. My husband lost his UK drivers license just after we got here. He contacted the UK Driver's License Department and they said he had to live in UK and have bills to prove he lived there. After reading your information - how can he get a new license? He cannot show his UK driver's license etc so what do we do?
Michelle Johnson - Tue, 12th Nov 2013
We came to Spain in June. We have bought a house over here, bought a Spanish car and had our campervan imported into Spain. We both have a Pink photocard driving licence with the green paper history, but this shows our UK address. We have rented our house in the UK for 2 years while we decide if this is to be a permanent move to D Spain, and we do still return to the UK and drive there. I am unclear - do we need to have our current licences checked at the Trafico, or apply for a new Spanish licence?
Judith Sunley - Fri, 11th Oct 2013
I have lived in Spain for 8 years and I am a reasident. My drivers licence is a paper type which runs out when I am 70 which is next January, six monrhs to go. Do I have to change my licence now and then again in six months time . This will be very costly for me as a pensioner. Regards
Deidre Drake - Wed, 10th Jul 2013
In Jul 2012 we applied through our gestor to xchange uk licences, nothing heard jan 2013, after several visits to traffico alicante, they had lost them, still nothing heard. only trying to be legal, what on earth do you do to achieve this
Janet Westgarth - Sat, 25th May 2013
It makes the law clear in respect of RESIDENTS but does not explain if a 70 year old non-resident visiting for say 3 months, driving a Spanish car with a UK plastic licence has to have a medical certificate.
J.r.baker - Tue, 16th Apr 2013
Victoria : The letter published was written by a contact at the DGT in Malaga - as such the advice offered (and the location mentioned) are related to the Malaga Province.
Tumbit - Admin - Tue, 16th Apr 2013
Could you please tell me where Centro Medico Avenida is please?
Victoria - Tue, 16th Apr 2013
I went to the font with my wife to opt for Spanish licence, they took our paper one in 2003. My wife received her original back with a date until she was 65. (20.13) I only had a copy from the font. (I thought this was my licence. In 2008 I received a Aviso, so I went for a medical and foto. My licence copy was until 20.13 so I thought no more to do. I was stopped in Benitachell and fined 500 euros, the Font said we will ask why, by the time I had a reply the discount had run out. I am now waiting for an appeal. I found out that my licence does not go to 70 as in England but 65 in Spain. I had my car towed away, (300 Mtrs another 90 Euros). I am 70 in May. I feel 'taking candy from a baby'.
Patrick Clancy - Mon, 25th Mar 2013
Can I take it as fact, that the UK Driving License (photo type and expiry dated) is valid in Spain for Residents driving a Spanish Plated Car etc until the date of expiry shown on the License even if more than 2 years old. All other UK Licenses must be exchanged for a Spanish License. Are the local police and Guardia Civil aware of the procedure.
Rj Mccartney - Thu, 14th Mar 2013
Try this link.
Chris - Wed, 6th Feb 2013
Do they DGT have any information about this on their website? In Spanish even? I want to read the official info, not hearsay. Does no one have sources?
Rm - Wed, 6th Feb 2013
Thank you for the above. However did I miss your answer to My next question. Some of my neighboure have lived in Spain for years, They are using the Address of their family on their UK. Driving Licence, or using the Address of their Property in the UK. which has been rented out. IS their driving Licence legal. Also what is the leagal state, in the event of a serious accident. Just Wiliam. In Almeria
Mr William Potter - Sun, 3rd Feb 2013
Still no answer to the question " does that mean we do or do not need a medical certificate"?
Rod Southwood - Sun, 27th Jan 2013
A good article. It does not indicate the the liability of a non resident over 70 years who owns a property and motor vehicle in respect of needing a medical certificate for driving a motor car.
Baker - Sat, 26th Jan 2013
also we have Zero tolerance in drink-driving. if they detect alcohol even after 3 days they can fine you 200, put you in prison for 3/6 weeks, your licence revoked and you have to pass the test again. Also you can be fined for having ANYTHING on the back seat, cases have to be put on the floor with netting over them. Flip-Flops and sandals are not permitted, only backs to the shoes or you can be fined on the spot and they would take you to your nearest bank to get the money.
Alison Gilchrist - Thu, 24th Jan 2013
Newell : As anyone who has had dealings with any kind of beaurocracy in Spain will know, it is dangerous to even try and apply logic to any procedure. The above letter was issued by our contact at Malaga DGT - we would like to "assume" that this would be standard across all provincial offices, but until we have this confirmed for sure, we aren't going to stick our necks out on this one.
Tumbit - Admin - Thu, 24th Jan 2013
Is there a similar arrangement for someone living in the Alicante region?
Newell - Thu, 24th Jan 2013
Now the only question is whether you need a periodic medical if you have a European driving licence.
Alex - Wed, 23rd Jan 2013

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