Will you be living for an extended period in Spain and are you planning on buying or driving a car in Spain? Whether you are planning on obtaining your first driving license or are planning on using your current national driving license, we will provide you with some relevant information and guidelines.
Getting your first driving license in Spain
Step one – Registration – Spain driving license
Like in any other European country, to be able to drive in Spain you need to be 18 or older. However, you can start applying for a driving license when you are 17 years old. The easiest way to apply for a driving license is to directly go to an autoescuela (driving school). In theory, the first step would be to register at the Jefatura Provincial de Tráfico. Though, we highly recommend to leave this paperwork to an autoescuela, paying them a little fee.
It is important to note that in order to be able to start the registration process at an autoescuela, you will need the following documents:
- A copy of your passport
- A copy of your NIE (National Identification Document or Foreigner Identification Document)
- A proof of residence from the local Town Hall (Certificado de Empadronamiento)
- A copy of the EU Citizen Registration Certificate from the local Town Hall (Certificado de registro Ciudadano)
Once you are enrolled in a driving school, you must also get a medical examination form. The autoescuela can help you with this and will also support you with any other paperwork, if requested.
Step two – Teórico/ Written Exam
Also in Spain you will first need to take a theory exam. If your Spanish is not fluent, there are a few places offering their lecture materials and the written test in English. Though, you must be warned that the English translations might be wrongly written and may be confusing. You can decide to follow the classes with a teacher or to study the questions online. It is recommended to go to the classes since you are able to clarify your doubts and questions. From the moment you register, you will have 6 months to complete your written theory exam. You will have two opportunities to pass the test.
Step 3 – Práctico/ Driving exam in Spain
Once you have passed the written exam it’s time to start with your driving lessons. In Spain there is no fixed obligatory number of classes you need to do. The autoescuelas normally offer you a bono of classes (package deal), which go from 5 to 40 classes. The classes usually take around 60 minutes. Spain has a reputation of having a challenging driving exam. You might therefore make sure you will have a good instructor with whom you feel comfortable with. The driving test will usually take around 30 minutes, of which the first 10 minutes are ‘free style’. During the remaining time the examiner will ask you questions and tells you where to go. You will have up to two years to complete the driving exam. Like in the written exam, there are two opportunities to pass the test.
What are the costs to get your driving license in Spain ?
The costs may vary depending on which autoescuela you choose – but also depends on which part of Spain you live. The costs normally range between 400 to 1000 euros. In general you pay a fixed price for the registration, the theory book and theory classes/online course, though, some autoescuelas might charge you the theory classes separately. The fee of the written and driving exam are normally around 115 euro. The total cost of getting your driving license also highly depends on how many practical classes you need. The driving classes cost around 25-30 euro an hour.
Changing your national driving license to a Spanish one
For drivers having a valid European Union (EU) Community or an European Economic Area (EEA) driving license, you will not have any problems to drive in Spain. Yet, this changes when you are living in Spain (legally) for over two years. Indeed, with the new Spanish government regulation of January 2015, foreign nationals living in Spain since two years are required to exchange their license for a Spanish one.
According to Article 15, paragraph 4 of the Spanish Regulation General Drivers, it is compulsory for drivers to renew their EU/EEA driving licences whose validity is:
- permanent (never expires);
- 15 years or more on date of issue for Group 1 (AM, A1, A2, A, B and BE);
- five years or more on date of issue for the Group 2 (BTP, C1, C1E, C, CE D1, D1E, D, DE).
In case of your EU/EEA driving license has expired or is close to the expiry date, you must also renew your driving license. The penalty for not renewing your driving license is 200 euro.
Thus, once you move to Spain, it is highly important to register with the local traffic authorities as a foreign EU/EEA country driver, within 6 months.
What do you need to exchange your driving license in Spain?
To enter this process you will need the following paperwork:
- copy of your passport and original passport
- proof of residence for 6 months (NIE Number and certificate of registration in the central aliens register)
- an application form (in Spanish)
- a copy of your current valid driving license and your original as well
- self-declaration stating that you don’t have another driving license of the same class in another country
- written declaration stating that you have not been banned from driving
- two passport size photographs
- medical certification issued by the Authorised Driver’s Check Centre
Hopefully we have informed you enough and we wish you good luck!