New drivers license and rental cars

I have had a Spanish drivers license since November 2018. Most all rental car companies I had talked to say that you have to have your license for at least 1 year to rent a car in Europe. I have had a drivers license in the US for 40+ years but that license expired last month. So the rental car companies treat me as thought I had never driven before. Does anyone know of a company that does not have the 1 year requirement or a way around it? I do not want to buy a car but would love to rent one every now and then.

I cannot believe what you appear to be saying,  is other than a misinterpretation by car hire employee/s

If it were correct then if one changed say a U.K. DL for a spanish  one they would be unable to hire a vehicle for a year

Although not parallel :   My insurance in spain took into account the number of years I had held a DL anywhere in the world when I took out insurance with them.  That also applied when I insured an RV  and tow car in ISA, that I bought there and used as visitor (as they say in USA, an alien) for six months. 

In your position I would speak to someone more senior in the hire company.  If that did not resolve the issue I would complete a Complaints form and after two weeks submit it to the Consumers Office of the town hall.  I think that will solve your problem.

When you change a EU country license it will state what your original license date was but for a US license they do not ( US drivers have to take the driving test). Also the 1 year requirement is stated on the rental agencies web sites.

I know that but the length of time a person has held a licence, unless stipulated that must be a particular licence, is the whole time. 

When I changed my U.K. licence the insurance company accepted that had held a licence for 40 years,  albeit that had not been in spain. 

Similarly when I took out insurance in USA  and had taken the driving test in Florida a day or two before, my total driving experience was accepted and reflected in the premium.

I think it is worth Expatrats testing what the requirement really is as opposed to what possibly a junior member of staff understands

A compliants form would ensure the hire Company ‘ s understanding is correct

I have on several occasions questioned similar situations and often my understanding has been proved correct

There is nothing to loose by testing it

I will do that. Thanks for your suggestions.


I called a leading hire car company and they confirmed what you said.

They said, if a person with a DL from USA visits Spain they can rent a car, but if they use a Spanish DL it must have been issued at least a year previously.

They said if a person  in that situation produced a USA D/L  they could hire a car.

Is it possible for you renew by post or via a friend,  your USA  D/L and have it sent to you in Spain ?

Maybe more than one way to skin a cat !

Unfortunately I have to appear in person this time for a new picture. I will be back in the US in November but by then my Spanish license will be valid also. Thanks

It was just a thought

When I was touring USA in an RV I had travellers cheques.  Whenever I tried to cash one I was asked for my DL, they did not understand what a passport was.  U.K. D/Ls at that time did not have a photo so that too was a problem.  Eventually I took a test and got a USA licence.  When they were taking the photo I was ‘serious faced’ as one would be for a passport   The officer stated telling me jokes until I laughed, he then took the photo saying that was better !

I just got my Spanish licence in February 2019 and  have  also been driving for 40 years with Australian licence and I was told exactly the same thing!! It’s unbelievable... is t it?

It does not seem to make sense. I think it must be driven by insurance companies.

I can fancy a bit of travel here and there at times. My last trip was to Spain. Getting from one to place to another there can be quite a hassle, I have to say.  the country has excellent public transport services. Between the underground railway systems (or metros) in Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, and Valencia, bus services in all major cities and towns (generally the cheapest option), and long-distance coach services between major cities, or even simple car rentals. When I was there last summer I had to go marbella car hire because I think a rented personal car is better than any bus. Depending on where you are and what season it is, you could get hit with all different types of weather during your Spain travels. It might be super rainy up north in San Sebastian and Galicia while it’s balmy in Barcelona. It’ll get chilly (and sometimes even snowy) pretty much anywhere further north from November to May.

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