Driving in Spain
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Before you get behind the wheel of a car in Spain, read this short but essential guide on driving in your new country. If you hold a foreign driver's licence, you are permitted to drive on Spanish roads, but you will have to exchange this for a Spanish driver's licence. When you have to do this depends on where you come from.

If you are from outside the European Union, you can use your licence and freely drive for your first six months in the country, or for up to two years if you’re from the EU or EEA area. Once these periods have passed, you must obtain a Spanish driver's licence

How to convert your driver's license in Spain

As a Spanish resident from an EU-EEA country, you can exchange your national driver's license for a Spanish license. This is also possible if your country has signed agreements with Spain, such as South Korea, Japan, Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Uruguay, Morocco and Chile. 

All you need to do is provide your local traffic office with the following:

  • Valid ID documents, such as your passport
  •  Proof of residence in Spain, i.e. your residence card/certificate
  • NIE
  • Your original driver's licence
  • Two recent passport size photographs
  • A statement certifying you have not been deprived of your rights to drive in your home country.

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

You may also be required to take a medical examination.

You will then receive your Spanish licence by post, renewable every 10 years up until the age of 65, and every five years after 65.

 Important:

If you don’t obtain a Spanish driver's licence after six months or two years of residence in Spain and are caught, you could be fined.

Applying for a Spanish driver's licence

If you are a citizen from outside the EU-EEA and cannot exchange your licence, you will have to take the Spanish driving test. This involves a written theory test and a practical test. Before taking them, you must have lessons through a recognised driving school. 

For the written test, you will have to answer 30 questions in English in 30 minutes. This will cover things like road signs and the rules of the road. 

For more information about driving in Spain and getting a Spanish driving licence, contact the embassy or consulate in your home country.

Highway code and road safety in Spain

To drive in Spain, you must be 18 years or over.

To hire a car, you must be 21 years or over.

The speed limit on Spanish motorways (autopistas) is 120 km/h.

You must carry two warning triangles in your car which are to be used if your vehicle breaks down.

You must carry at least two high visibility jackets in your car. If you stop/break down and get out on the road, you must wear one.

The law forbids the use of mobile phones while driving, even if you're stationary at traffic lights. You can use hands-free devices, but these must be completely hands-free, so no headphones or ear-pieces.

A first aid kit is not legally required in a car, but it is recommended.

For most drivers, the maximum legal drinking limit is 0.5 milligrams of alcohol per millilitre of blood. It is difficult to work out what this equates to, but almost certainly two bottles of beer will put you nearly over the limit, as would more than 1.5 glasses of wine. The limit for drivers who have had a licence for less than two years is 0.3 milligrams of alcohol per millilitre of blood.

 Useful link:

Dirección General de Tráfico

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