Obtaining a driving licence in your own country is usually simple enough, however, when you move to another country the requirements are often different. Many drivers assume that possession of an international driving licence will keep them on the right side of the law, but this may only keep you legal for a limited period of time.

In January 2013, Spain introduced new driving licence rules. Valid licences from the European Union and European Economic Area are also valid in Spain providing the holder meets the minimum driving age in Spain, which is 18 years. However, you can only renew the licence in your country of origin and must follow Spain’s terms for holding a licence. These terms include renewing it every 10 years until the age of 65 and every five years after that age. Failure to do so results in a €200 fine, even if your licence has been issued for life, as is the case in some countries.

Foreign drivers also need to contact the Central Register of Drivers within six months of becoming resident in Spain and undergo a medical examination at an Authorised Drivers Check Centre to establish physical and mental fitness. You can opt to exchange your EU/EEA licence for a Spanish one, while if you break a driving law and get points on your licence the Spanish authorities can force you to exchange it for a Spanish one.

Non-EU drivers can use their national permit for up to six months after becoming resident in Spain. However, during that time the driver must carry a copy of an International Drivers Permit or an official translation of the foreign licence. Spain has special exchange agreements with some non-EU countries, with motorists from Spanish speaking countries having to exchange their licence for a Spanish one, while those from other countries are required to take the full Spanish driving test.

To sum up, EU drivers who spend more than six months have two choices:

  • Change to a Spanish licence
  • Use your existing licence plus a certificate from the Spanish traffic authorities and an accompanying medical certificate

If you are concerned about whether or not you are complying correctly with the rules, please contact us at Perez Legal for advice – don’t face a €200 fine for the sake of a phone call!