Spanish Driver License

We are considering moving to Barcelona and have California driver licenses. Do any of you know what the process is for getting a Spanish license? Is it automatic or do we need to go thru the whole process of written and behind-the-wheel tests?

Unless things have changed very recently, there is no treaty or agreement to validate your California licence in Spain. I believe that you can use an international tourist driver's license for the first 6 months you are here, but if you buy a car you will need to find out if the insurance is valid for an owner with a tourist license. I am presently studying for my Spanish driver's license by taking practice tests online on the todotest site (permiso B). The tests aren't easy and a score of 90% is required to pass. The laws here are much more complex than when I got my license at 15 years old in the US (I am 66). The driving test is also difficult and one of my Spanish family members has failed it twice. You will need to sign up for lessons as taking the test requires using a drivers instruction car with two sets of pedals. Having a car in a large city can be pain as finding a parking place can be difficult. However, I have lived in Barcelona, Valencia, and Alicante off and on for 22 years without a license, and am only now getting one because my wife has poor night vision.

the USA has 50 states, each with a different license, so no reciprocation in Spain.  You need to go through the entire process.  We have an ebook on driving in Spain which details it all out, but I am sure you can piece things together through internet searches as well.  Good luck, and make note that is is time consuming and expensive too.  :-)

Thanks, but I do know how many states there are in the US. I was asking because in Germany you get automatic reciprocation for most states. California is not among those, unfortunately, but other states such as Florida, Alabama, New Mexico, etc. are. And the only reason I can think if is that California makes everyone take at leas the written exam, so this might be payback. So I was wondering if Spain had something similar. Any idea if there is reciprocation between Germany and Spain? I could go for the German license before we move.


If your driving licence is issued by an EU country, it's recognised throughout the EU.

So if you move to another EU country, you won't usually have to exchange your licence. You can drive in your new country on your current licence as long as:

    it is valid
    you are old enough to drive a vehicle of the equivalent category
    it is not suspended or restricted and has not been revoked in the issuing country.

The categories AM, A1, A2, A, B, BE, B1, C1, C1E, C, CE, D1, D1E, D and DE are also recognised in other EU countries.

There are a number of countries, outside the EU who's licenced drivers can exchange their D/Ls in Spain.   As far as I know no USA States are on that list.

In passing:   An Internacional Driving Permit (IDP)   is not a DL.

It is an official translation of one's DL and thus one must have the DL and IDP with them when driving in a country where that is permitted. … tros.shtml


Canje de los permisos de conducción expedidos en países no comunitarios (Andorra, Corea, Japón, Suiza y Mónaco

Canje de permisos de conducción de países con convenio
Los países con convenio de canje son los siguientes:  República Argelina Democrática y Popular, República Argentina, República de Bolivia, República de Chile, República de Colombia, República de Ecuador, Reino de Marruecos, República de Nicaragua, República de Perú, República Dominicana, República de Panamá, República de Paraguay, República de Uruguay, República Bolivariana de Venezuela, República Federativa de Brasil, República de El Salvador, República de Filipinas, República de Guatemala, República de Serbia, República de Turquía, Túnez, Ucrania, Macedonia

See also:- … 73563.html

Thank you all for your comments. I found them very helpful.

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