If you hold a UK or EU driving licence from outside of Spain are expected to exchange it for a Spanish one when you become resident in Spain.[creativ_toggle icon=”” heading=”European Union website information on exchanging licences” onload=”closed”]
Exchanging your licence
If you change your residence to another EU country, you don’t usually have to change your driving licence. You can use your current licence as long as it remains valid.
If you wish, you can voluntarily exchange your licence for an equivalent one in your new country of residence.
You will have to prove that you are a resident of that country and that you meet the conditions for having a driving licence (e.g. you have reached the minimum age, your state of health permits you to drive, etc.).
Before the authorities exchange your driving licence, they will contact the authorities in your previous country of residence to check that your driving licence has not been restricted, suspended or withdrawn.
When living abroad, you will have to exchange your driving licence for a local one:
- if your licence is lost, stolen or damaged
- after 2 years of usual residence, if you have a driving licence valid for life (only if required by the country where you live)
- if you commit a traffic offence in the country where you live
Many non-EU countries, UK included, have a reciprocal agreement with Spain to exchange licenses. Where this is the case, you follow the same procedure as a EU citizen when you become resident and exchange your licence. The only difference is, driving licences from non-EU countries are only valid to use for 6 months from the date of getting residency, so the exchange of licence needs to be done within that time.
Holders of licences from countries that don’t have exchange agreements, e.g. Middle East countries, the USA, Canada, Switzerland and Australia, have to start at the beginning, join a driving school and take the official Spanish Driving exam- just like any Spanish citizen would.
The following link takes you to a list on the DGT (Direccion General de Trafico) website of all countries that Spain has an agreement with. https://www.dgt.es/nuestros-servicios/permisos-de-conducir/permisos-extranjeros-y-de-fuerzas-y-cuerpos-de-seguridad/canjes-de-permisos/paises-con-convenio-de-canjes/
The website also provides information about the licence exchange process and requirements: https://www.dgt.es/nuestros-servicios/permisos-de-conducir/permisos-extranjeros-y-de-fuerzas-y-cuerpos-de-seguridad/canjes-de-permisos/canjes-de-fuerzas-y-cuerpos-de-seguridad-espanoles/
The process is relatively straightforward. The biggest issue most encounter is getting an appointment at the DGT to hand in their licence exchange application. When you have secured and appointment, the most important thing is to be prepared with all the appropriate documents, originals and copies. Document requirements do vary slightly, depending on the administrative jurisdiction in which you are requesting your license.
We’ve summarised below the key points regarding the documents you’ll need and the process, based on our experience doing these.
Spanish Driving Licence – Documents
Passport (and copy must be in date)
Photo x 2 (ESP carnet size)
Original UK licence
Medical certificate (not needed in all cases)
EU citizen residency certificate or TIE if non-EU
Padron (certificado de empadronamiento dated within the last 3 months)
National Insurance Number (for UK licences)
Photo and signature document (provided when you present your application at DGT)
Switching to a Spanish Driving Licence – Process
Gather all your docs and get your photos.
Find a recognised centre to take your medical. Note that in some provinces the new Spanish driving licence will be valid only until the date you current UK or EU photo card licence expires. However in others a 10 year Spanish photo card licence is issued.
Book your appointment at the DGT on their website, or by calling 060.
Pay the fee. This can be done online. Remember to print save / print off the receipt. (Justificante de pago). https://sede.dgt.gob.es/es/tramites-y-multas/pago-tasas/pago-de-tasas/
Attend your appointment and present you application. (Make sure when you sign the photo doc, that you signature is completely inside the box). You will be issued with a temporary licence (valid 3 months) until original comes through. This is currently taking 6 – 8 weeks, however we can expext this to be longer due to the big increase in applications as a result of Brexit.
Switching to a Spanish Driving Licence – Medical
You will also be required to attend a certified medical establishment, that offers the service, to have a basic health check including blood pressure, eye sight, hearing, reaction testing.
Upon submission of your application, you will be provided with a temporary ‘Permiso de Conducir‘ to use until your new Spanish licence arrives.
Once you have a Spanish driving licence, there is a formal timeline for renewal. Up to the age of 65, the licence must be renewed every 10 years, above the age of 65, renewal is every 5 years. There are small fees for renewal and a physical examination is required to be completed at the time of renewing a driving licence.
Exchanging a UK or EU Driving Licence Service
We offer a services to assist with or fully handle the driving licence exchange.
If you’re happy to go to the DGT to hand in your application, we’ll help you get everything ready, fill out the forms, and book your appointment. If you’d rather not have to go to the DGT we can also handle everything for you.