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How to drive in Spain

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European Union citizens can drive in Spain with their national driver's licence but other foreigners have to exchange their driver's licence for a Spanish driver's licence.

If you are a citizen of the EU-EEA, your can freely drive in Spain with your national driver's licence. However, after six months of residency in Spain, you should exchange your national licence for a Spanish licence. This also applies if your driving licence does not expire (like the old German licences) or expires within more than 15 years.

Exchanging your driver's licence

As a Spanish resident from an EU-EEA country, or if your country has signed agreements with Spain, you may be able to exchange your national driver's license for a Spanish license (exchange is possible for citizens from South Korea, Japan, Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Uruguay, Morocco and Chile). All you need to do is provide the Provincial Traffic Office with the following:

  • valid ID documents, such as your passport
  • proof of residence in Spain, i.e. your residence card
  • NIE
  • your original driver's licence
  • two recent passport size identity photographs
  • a statement that certifies that you have not been deprived of your rights to drive in your home country

You may be required to provide a certificate stating that you do not hold another driver's licence issued in another country and a an official statement from your national consulate or embassy proving that your national driver's licence is authentic and valid.

You will then receive your Spanish licence by post, renewable every 10 years up to its 45th year of issue, and then every 5 years beyond that period.  

Applying for a Spanish driver's licence

If you are a citizen from outside the EU-EEA, and in the event you cannot exchange your national driver's license against a Spanish driver's licence, you are allowed to drive with your national licence up to six months beyond the issuance date of your residence permit. After 6 months, you will have to take a driving test in Spain. 

For more information about driver's licence exchange, visit the embassy or consulate of your country in Spain. 

If you do not yet have a driver's licence, regardless of your nationality, you can also apply for a driver's licence in Spain. Related formalities are quite simple and there is no minimum number of hours for driving lessons. Driving tests are also held in a rather short time period given the number of examiners available. In case you do not succeed on your first attempt, you can take the exam again after 8 days.

Note that you have to register with a driving school before proceeding. The highway code test consists of 30 questions where you have to score at least 27 marks. This test, which should last half an hour, is available in several languages. Once you have passed this test, you can then proceed with your driving lessons with a driving instructor. These should cost around 500 euros.

Feel free to seek more information from your home country's embassy and consulate in Spain.

Highway code and road safety

Speed is limited at 120 km/h on the highway.

It is compulsory that your vehicle be equipped with safety accessories such as a safety triangle, a reflective vest, spare bulbs, and a first aid kit.

A maximum of 0.5g of alcohol per liter of blood is permitted. In the case of young drivers whose driver's licences have been issued less than two years before, a maximum of 0.3 g is allowed, that is the equivalent of a single glass of wine.

Finally, the use of GPS is tolerated. However, the use of mobile phones while driving is strictly prohibited, except if you have an approved hands-free kit. Note that not all hands-free kits are legal.

 Useful links: 

Dirección General de Tráfico - Traffic Branch www.dgt.es

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.
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Member since 01 June 2008
Small earth, Mauritius
3 Comments
lottienevin
lottienevin
11 months ago

I'm pretty sure that once you get your Residencia card, (which you need if you are going to be living here full time) you must change your driving licence to a Spanish one within 2 years of being a resident. Since the Referendum in the UK last year, it is now necessary to have a medical when applying for a Spanish driving licence.

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Johncar
Johncar
11 months ago

Lottie. Firstly Resdencia does not exist (abolished April 2007) for EU citizens. They now have to register on the EU Citizens Register and get a green card or A7 piece of green paper. One does not need to change their DL if they are a citizens of the EU i.e. as explained in the article. However, the article fails so show all the countries which can exchange their DL. My wife exchanged her Philippines D/L, and I believe these countries, in addition to those listed, can do so too:- Alergia, Bolivia, Brazil, Croatia, Dominical Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Macedonia, Paraguay, Philippines, Serbia, Turkey, Tunisia, Ukraine, Venezuela

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Johncar
Johncar
2 years ago

You can also exchange a Philippines DL.

Reply

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