Spanish driving license

The legal age for anyone wishing to drive while in Spain is 18. license holders under 18 years but with a valid license in their country, like the US, are not allowed to in Spain until 18. The licence type also depends on where you come from (country of origin) and how long you plan to drive in Spain. For those from European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA) countries, your license will be valid in Spain as long as it is up to date.

Replacing your valid EU license, which you used to hold with an equivalent Spanish license, is, therefore, voluntary if six months or two years have not expired. If you are a resident of Spain and your European permit is out of date, a renewal is necessary for a Spanish drivers license.

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Exchanging driving license in Spain

spanish drivers licence test
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If you are from EAA, an EU country living in Spain, you can drive using your existing licence for the first two years in Spain. After six months, you must register with the traffic authority at your central register of drivers and minor offenders of Spain’s provincial traffic headquarters. With this, one is required to adhere to Spanish license holder requirements, which include;

  • A mandatory medical check from a Spanish doctor
  • Have attained a minimum age in Spain for a vehicle you wish to drive (18 years)
  • Renewal or exchange of licence after two years. EU license renewed in Spain is converted to a Spanish license, which is then renewed after every ten years.

Spanish authorities can also oblige a person to obtain a new license in Spain if there is an issue with penalty points. Anyone who does not get a Spanish driver license after two years and is caught driving faces a fine of 200euro. When one is exchanging their driver license for a Spanish license, they are required to have the following documents:

  • Application form
  • Identity card or a passport
  • A valid license
  • Proof of residency in Spain
  • Two recent photographs
  • A declaration that you have not been suspended from driving
  • A declaration that you do not hold another license in another country

After the process, your old license in Spain is taken from you, and you will receive a certificate that allows you to drive while your application is ongoing.

Exchanging a driving licence for Non-EU citizens

spanish drivers license
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Citizens from countries away from European Union (EU) can use their license in Spain on holiday. They are allowed to use their license for six months after they have applied for residency in Spain. If the foreigner is not Spanish, they must always carry an official translation or an international driving permit.

International Driving Permit is a document that translates a person’s driving license into different languages, including Spanish. The IDP is valid only for one year and must be applied by someone outside of Spain.

Driving license in Spain

If you are not a citizen of the European Union, European economic area, or one of the countries with an exchange agreement, you cannot exchange your license in Spain and you must take a driving test. Citizens of the United Kingdom, United States, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and South Africa must take a full Spanish driving test to get a Spanish license. It is applied at the provincial traffic headquarters of Spain. The following is needed:

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  • Two passport-sized photographs
  • A health certificate of mental and physical fitness from the authorized driver’s check center
  • Proof of address in Spain
  • Your residence permits
  • A declaration that there are no legal cases that are preventing you from driving
  • A declaration that you do not hold a similar license

You must take your test in a recognized driving school in Spain. The test contains the practical test and the theory part taken in Spanish. There are English-speaking examiners in some areas of Spain. You can also check with the test center if you can take a translator.

UK Licence Holders

UK citizens with British driving licences, driving in Spain after the Brexit withdrawal agreement transition period (31 December 2020), must exchange their British driving licence for a Spanish driving licence, if they have a Spanish residence permit or have recently obtained a Spanish retirement visa, non-lucrative visa or golden visa.

The use of international driving permits is not also allowed. The UK license is only valid for six months after arrival in Spain. However, you can still use your Spanish driving licence in the UK for short visits or exchange it for a UK license without taking a test. If you have been a resident in Spain for more than six months and have not exchanged your UK license for a Spanish drivers licence, you will not be able to drive due to Brexit.

What are the categories on a Spanish driving Licence?

There are several types of Spanish drivers licence, which includes:

spanish driving licence categories

A1
It is for motorcycles with an engine power of up to 11kw and 125cc, more suited for urban riding or short trips outside the city. It is not suited for long-distance travel on major roadways. You must be 16 years old to apply for this kind of license.

A2
It is for motorcycles with an engine power of up to 35kw. They are suitable for urban travel, long-distance riding, and highway travel. You must be 18 years old to attain this kind of license.

B
You need this kind of license to drive cars and must be 18 years of age. It allows you to drive a vehicle weighing 3,500kg or less with a maximum of nine seats. It also allows you to drive the kinds of motorcycles covered by an A1 license, provided you’ve had your B permit for at least three years.

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C
This driving permit is for vehicles that weigh more than 3,500kg, such as commercial vehicles. The license holder must be a 21-year-old to have this kind of license.

D
This license in Spain is for vehicles that transport passengers, such as buses. The license holder must be 24 years of age to apply for this kind of license.

Permit BTP
This kind of license is for special-purpose vehicles like ambulances, school transport buses, fire trucks, police vehicles, and taxis. To acquire this, you must have had a B permit for at least one year.
Most Spanish cars are standard transmissions, also known as stick shifts.

Can a foreigner get a drivers license in Spain?

Foreigners can use their foreign license or exchange it for a Spanish drivers licence. You have the right to drive in Spain with your foreign license within six months for those who do not come from European Union countries. Those from European Union and EUROPEAN Economic Area can use their license for a term not exceeding two years.

Spain has an agreement with several countries; thanks to it, foreigners can exchange their driving permits for Spanish ones. These countries include Algeria, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, South Korea, Japan, Ecuador, Peru, Morocco, the Philippines, Brazil, El Salvador, Serbia, Turkey and Tunisia.

Diplomatic employees and international staff can exchange their driving permits under the procedure, regardless of nationality.

To drive in Spain, you must be 18 years old and a license holder with an up-to-date license. Individuals with no permits will be unable to drive on Spanish roads.

CAN I DRIVE IN SPAIN WITH A UK LICENSE 2022?

Since the beginning of 2022, residents in Spain with UK licenses have not been able to exchange their license for a Spanish one unless they take a driving test. British citizens cannot drive with their UK driving license due to BREXIT.

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The British authorities have been trying to negotiate and strike a deal with the Spanish government and traffic authority (the DGT) to allow UK citizens to exchange their licenses for Spanish ones without taking a test. The ambassador to Spain Hugh Elliott published a video on April 29, 2022, on the British embassy in Madrid’s Facebook page stating there were no more extensions.

UK residents would have to take a Spanish driving test as the UK license was no longer valid. “We understand that some UK nationals are unable to drive whilst we are negotiating with the Spanish. To those affected, we would reiterate that we understand your frustrations, and we are aware of the server impact on your daily lives, “Karl McCartney, government minister within the department of transportation, says, assuring drivers that they are doing everything possible to solve this problem.

However, Hugh Elliott has issued an update that an agreement has been reached and that UK license holders will have six months to exchange their license for a Spanish one. This will happen without taking a test, and they will be able to drive using their UK license during this time.

An expired license shall also be accepted, provided they are valid when an individual enters Spain. This agreement will only apply to those who hold a UK License, whether they were in Spain before the end of 2020 or if they moved here in the coming future. If both UK and the Spanish government have signed the agreement, it shall then be published in the Spanish BOE (STATE BULLETIN), and the new rule will come into force the same day.

Can a tourist get a driver license in Spain? Yes, with the international drivers licence

It is important to note that tourists in Spain must be 18 years old to drive. All European members and European Economic Area citizens are permitted to drive with valid licenses in Spain. The non-EU and EAA must obtain an international driving permit (IDP) and must apply for it in their home country before becoming a resident in Spain.

International Driving Permit is not a substitute for a license; hence you must carry your original license along with your IDP when driving in Spain. To obtain the International Driving Permit document, you are required to apply with all your necessary documentation included. This document contains your passport, Spanish visa, license, country identification, and residency permit.

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The international driving permit is only valid for one year. After your six-month stay in Spain, you can exchange your license or take a driving test and acquire a Spanish drivers licence. Also, note that you do not take any practical or written test to obtain an international driving permit. You do not have to wait for six months or two years for the case of EU and EEA citizens to exchange your driving licence for a Spanish one. You can do it anytime, voluntarily!

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