Renewing your EU driving Licence in Spain: 3 case studies

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  • Must all European Union driving licences be changed to Spanish Licences after the new regulation?
  • Do you have to change your EU licence if you do not have Spanish residency?
  • In the case that the new regulations apply to you, do you need a medical certificate?

I’ll answer these three questions and more in this article.

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DON’T PANIC

All right, you are in Spain to:

  • Enjoy the sun.
  • Have an easy life.
  • Slow down.
  • Live the dream that many thousands of people have now in your country.

Relax.

There are new regulations coming for renewing your EU driving in Spain. Not a big deal.

Since I published the article on the new driving resolutions, I have read a lot of negative and catastrophic comments.

There’s no reason to panic, to worry or to fill Facebook Groups with complaints and aggression as if the Spanish government were going to take away all your belongings.

I understand that you have doubts. There’s always a small period of confusion when things like these are first introduced. Even for people like me who offer this type of service, there is a learning curve.

But, hey, we are in Spain, and we are laid-back people. Let’s not make a drama of something insignificant, ok? 😉

It’s just a new regulation that gets resolved with a little bit of money and some paperwork- if it applies to you.

Not the end of the world, is it?

You can ask me any questions any time by email or via my Facebook page. I’ll personally answer every single message I receive, and I will get in touch with the Tráfico office if I do not know the answer.

However, I will not reply to questions made using an aggressive and rude tone of voice, as has already happened (I received a disrespectful email against me… as if I were a government approving / disapproving new regulations).

In addition, I will not answer questions at all on Facebook groups. There is always someone who seems to stir up anger and nonsense on the comments.

I simply do not want to get into sterile and empty debates.

I’m here to help :-)

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EUROPEAN UNION LAWS

Some people are claiming that the EU laws are against the new Spanish regulation.

  • Is that true?
  • Do you think the Spanish authorities have been impulsive regarding such a big thing which affects several million people?

Well, firstly it seems that the Spanish General Direction of Traffic (Dirección General de Tráfico in Spanish, also called DGT, a similar entity as the British DVLA) has already informed European consular representatives about the new law:

Read the official DGT article here

So your nearest consular / embassy office in Spain should be able to explain everything clearly.

Secondly, if that is what you think, if you are sure that all this goes against the EU laws and is illegal, then I encourage you to prove it to everybody. Provide evidence, not simple words.

And send me please an email with all the facts so that I can write an article about it (which I promise I will do, but only if I think that your argument makes sense).

You may report it to the European Union authorities as well so that they can take legal action against all this.

If you are right, we should all hear some official announcements soon confirming your statements.

And I will publicly apologise for trusting the information that the Spanish authorities officially published on their Websites and even told me in person, as well as for any damage I may have caused.

Otherwise, I’m afraid you’ll have to play the game and get the Spanish licence sooner or later if you are a resident and meet with the rest of requirements.

European Union Driving Laws

(European Laws VS. Spanish Laws?)

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RENEWING YOUR EU DRIVING LICENCE IN SPAIN: 3 CASE STUDIES

This might not be the last article clarifying questions around the new regulation.

To compile the following listI have been in direct contact with the Alicante DGT office.

All three fictitious characters I’m going to describe are from the European Union.

  • Person 1 has been living in Spain since 2010, has Spanish residency and is 30 years old. His Group 1 licence (AM, A1, A2, A, B Y BE) expires when he turns 70.
  • Person 2 moved to Spain in 2010, became a resident that same year, is 67 years old, and his Group 1 licence expires in 2018 and was issued on 2008.
  • Person 3 has been living in Spain since 2005, has Spanish residency, is 71 years old, and changed his licence to a Spanish Licence in 2014. His Spanish licence expires in the year 2019.

Who must change their EU licence to Spanish according to the new regulation?

  • Person 1 DOES have to renew it starting on 19/01/2015. Person 1 has been a resident in Spain for more than 2 years, is driving using an EU driving licence rather than a Spanish licence, and his licence expires in more than 15 years.
  • Person 2 does NOT have to renew it yet. Person 2 has been a resident for more than 2 years but his Group1 driving licence does not expire in 15 years or more on date of issue. So, person 2 will have to renew it in Spain around 2018, although it could be done earlier or even right now should he wish to do so.
  • Person 3 does NOT have to renew it at all. Person 3 has been a resident for more than 2 years, but he’s driving already with a Spanish licence. You cannot change your licence to a Spanish one if it’s already Spanish.

Only person 1 would have to renew the driving licence straight away based on the new regulation, as person 1 would meet all the requirements to go ahead.

I know there are more cases to cover. Send me an email please and let me know yours.

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SOME COMMON MISUNDERSTANDINGS

I will try to clarify some of the worries or misconceptions I’ve heard, read or received during this last week.

  • You do not have to renew your licence to obtain a Spanish one just because you have Spanish residency. There are other requirements (please take a look to the article I wrote last Sunday).
  • You do not have to become a Spanish resident with the sole purpose of obtaining the Spanish driving licence if you just hold a NIE number and spend equal amounts of periods in and out of Spain. You can continue living a normal life and renew your licence in your country whenever it is due for renewal.
  • You do not have to do anything at all if you already have your Spanish driving licence. The new regulation is for non-Spanish EU driving licences. Just renew your Spanish one on whatever date is on the back of the card.
  • Norway is not part of the European Union, but belongs to the so-called “European Economic Space” alongside Iceland and Liechtenstein. All citizens from these three countries can obtain Spanish residency and Spanish driving licences as if they were from countries within the European Union.
  • The Spanish DGT is the highest institution in Spain dealing with everything regarding driving overall, which depends on the Spanish Ministry of Interior. And, yes, the DGT is an authority above what your neighbours and friends say in relation to driving in Spain, as well as other contradictions you may find at non-profit organisations and friends’ clubs. Check out everything first at the Spanish DGT.
  • You will need a medical certificate (as well as an up-to-date Padron and other requirements) if you rely on the new regulations (read the requirements on my previous article to know whether it would apply to you).

 

Spanish Driving Licence Office

(Spanish “Dirección General de Tráfico” – DGT)

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REMEMBER WHO’S GOT “THE FINAL WORD” IN SPAIN

To finish this article I’m going to give you a valuable tip that applies to not only your driving licence, but anything you do in Spain:

Get the final word from the public organisation, official institution or other place where you have to deliver your paperwork to

I’m telling you this not only because I’m a native Spaniard and speak the language, but because:

  • I know my own culture very well.
  • I’ve dealt with the Spanish system solving problems on many fronts since 2010.

Let me give you an example.

I live in Torrevieja and deliver my services in the Spanish South Costa Blanca, Murcia and Cartagena.

As you can imagine, my knowledge on this area is extensive, including:

  • Public national offices
  • Local administration
  • Legal documentation
  • Health
  • Police
  • Court
  • Driving licence offices
  • Unemployment offices

However, why should I know the way they do things in Madrid, Málaga, Barcelona or Valencia?

The new driving licence regulations are national. But Spain is a decentralised country in many official / legal aspects.

Take everything you read out there (including my own articles, of course) as a mere piece of information.

Obtain all the final requirements directly from the place you have to deliver any paperwork to. You will read this recommendation hundreds of times on my blog :-)

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ASK FIRST ALWAYS

You wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve read confusing and misleading information on lots of websites.

It’s very important that you understand this basic non-written rule that applies to the entire Spanish territory:

Go in person to the place where you have to deliver your paperwork and ask first

This is best solution to all doubts and contradictions.

If you don’t speak Spanish, take an interpreter or a friend who does.

You might be dealing with national stuff, but each region in Spain may do things in their own way.

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READY TO EXCHANGE YOUR EU/BRITISH DRIVING LICENCE IN SPAIN?

Click here here and do it yourself right now

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FINAL THOUGHTS

If you need to renew your EU driving licence to get a Spanish licence because the new regulations apply to you, it will be beneficial for you to do so sooner rather than later. And this is just my personal opinion.

First of all: you will be doing things in accordance with the law, thus avoiding fines or legal problems if you were involved in something serious, like a car accident, for example.

Second of all: you will be able to drive in Spain without worrying each time you see the Guardia Civil stopping people at roundabouts, or passing you on their motorcycles.

Do you have any other questions? Make a comment below or send me an email. It will be a pleasure to help you :-)

David

Credit Image: C. Wikipedia, E. Parlamient

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Comments

  1. Susan says

    Any idea how long the process should take to change the UK driving licence? I applied to Traffico,Valencia in August (2014) and they said I would be contacted when my UK licence had been convalidated by them and then to return with medical certificate,photos etc to finish the process….but up till now Ive heard nothing.

    • David Ruiz says

      Hi Susan,

      The process usually takes several months.

      My suggestion is to go to Trafico Valencia in person so that they can send a reminder to the DVLA.

      They should help you out, as the process was started at their office.

      I hope that helps,

      David

  2. sue stoyles says

    Firstly I must say well done on your reply to all the stupid people on facebook blogs

    We became residence in 2008, and changed our Driving licences 3 years ago, as we were led to believe that after 2 years we had to by law, we both had around 15 years left on them, my husband was 62 and I was 53. any comments would be gratefully received.

    Keep up the good work
    Regards
    Sue & Tony Stoyles

    • David Ruiz says

      Hi Sue and Tony,

      Thanks a lot for you contribution :-) I wasn’t expecting so much negative energy after the first article, but it seems it’s coming down!

      Three years ago it wasn’t as clear as now. But, anyway, I’ve always recommended my clients to get those bits sorted if they really think they are staying in Spain for a long time.

      Well, you already did it… something less to worry about 😉

      All the best,

      David

  3. says

    Thank you for clear,cogent advice,presented succinctly. This is the best site I have seen on this type of subject & information since being in Spain for 14 months. Very much appreciated,
    Kind Regards & Thanks,
    John Wragg
    Orgiva
    Granada

  4. Kerry Edwards says

    Thanks so much for your clarification David. I’m case number 2. What I’ve been reading on websites/Facebook and the English media has been confusing. Now, it’s clear from your article. I have been a Spanish Resident since 2005 and have a UK licence which expires in 2021. As you say it’s best to abide by the rules and avoid fines where possible.

    Kerry

    • David Ruiz says

      Hi Kerry,

      I lived in a foreign country too (USA) and I remember the feeling when doing things wrong… as well as how I felt having everything in order and up to date.

      Most times things get solved easily!

      All the best,

      David

  5. karen says

    Hi, I come into the “need to change” category, can the form be downloaded? I have copies (and originals) of passport, UK licence, residencia, empadronamiento and I will need to have a new medical which ran out last month. Is there anything else I need? Cheers, karen (Alicante)

  6. Username* says

    Hi, I have lived in Spain for four years and have residencia, padron, nor etc I want to make sure all my paperwork is correct and abide by the law of the country I have chose to live in but I have been told by giving in my old uk licence I will no longer be able to drive/rent car etc when I return to uk to visit family and friends as you can not drive in uk or United States on a spanish license, in this case I really don’t want to give it up. Not being able to drive in the country I originate from and have family in plus hold a passport for seems crazy. Maybe you could check this for me? Many thanks. Katy

    • David Ruiz says

      Hi Katy,

      Who said that you cannot drive with your Spanish licence in the UK or rent cars? I have hundreds of clients driving with Spanish Licences, and I’ve never heard something like that in almost 5 years.

      But if that was true, it sounds like something they should confirm at the DVLA, not in Spain. I would call the DVLA first to find out. Let me know what they say and I’ll talk to the DGT if they can’t clarify that in the UK.

      Hope everything goes well Katy!

      David

      • Stephen says

        Thanks for your article on this ever changing situation.

        You can hire / insure cars in the UK with a Spanish licence and don’t need to renew your Spanish licence in the UK until it expires if you live there. But British insurance companies require you to be a UK resident and register any UK purchased cars in the UK with DVLA & insure UK cars with a UK company. If your car is Spanish you can drive it in UK for a year without any problem. https://www.directline.com/car-insurance/buyers-guides/foreign-drivers

        I have a UK taxed and insured car which I drive back and forth between UK and Spain every three months to ensure my insurance is valid. Main issue I have is that to get a parking permit outside my house in central London, my car needs to be UK registered, to park outside my house in Valencia, my car needs to be Spanish registered. I am resident in both countries and pay income tax in both countries. This is common for many people in Europe, but the current laws undoubtedly hinder the free movement of people in this regard, as I would need to own two cars or register my car in each country every six months, which involves changing the speedometer, fog light configuration, headlights, insurance, tax and number plates, which is expensive, needlessly complicated and time consuming.

        • David Ruiz says

          Hi Stephen,

          Thanks a lot for your contribution. It will be very helpful for the readers of my blog.

          All the best,

          David

  7. rockinrom says

    Thanks David, for an informative and consise article, it will help many people.

    Hi Katy, there has been talk of this, but you can drive in the UK, and hire cars, with your new Spanish licence. (imagine if a Spanish person visiting the UK couldn’t hire a car!) The confusion has arisen because, the temporary licence you are given while waiting for the new one, is not valid outside Spain, and you can’t hire a car with it.
    Rom.

    • David Ruiz says

      Thank you so much for the contribution. You are right, the temporary licence is not valid outside Spain… very important if you are thinkng on driving abroad!

      All the best :-)

  8. michael blake says

    Hi, reading posts on driving a car back in UK on a spanish licence. I have been told rightly or wrongly , that you will not be able to drive a relatives car in the UK with a spanish licence, as the insurance company will not allow this any answers….Thanks

    • David Ruiz says

      Hi Michael,

      Sorry, I’m not really familiar with driving in the UK. I have also heard a lot of stories about the same subject but cannot say whether they are right or wrong.

      This is one of those things that should be checked with the insurance company… just in case!

      Best regards,

      David

  9. Paul Cresswell says

    Hi David, I am in Spain temporarily and just discovered, through getting a fine, that i cannot drive on my Australian licence without an International Driving Permit. As this will take 3 or more weeks to obtain is it possible to obtain a legal translation of my license to use in the meantime?

    Many thanks,
    Paul

    • David Ruiz says

      Hi Paul,

      An official translation will not do anything in this scenario. The only legal document you can use as a “translation” is your International Driving permit.

      Sorry about that.

      All the best,

      David

  10. rich says

    Hi David,

    This is by far the most informative article I’ve read on the subject.

    I have a question:

    I’m a British citizen who has lived in Spain since 2008 but just recently applied for my Spanish license. I know, fairly stupid on my part, but I had actually been told by someone working at the DGT office in Barcelona that my license was valid and didn’t have to be changed. I was later informed by the police that I had to change it.

    Since it’s impossible to get through to the DGT via telephone, could you let me know if I can drive while waiting for my license if I show the form that proves that the request is being processed ?

    I don’t want to risk a huge fine but also know that it will take ages, especially since it’s nearly August.

    Thanks,

    • David Ruiz says

      Hi Rich,

      Thanks for reading my stuff :-)

      Well, that’s a good question. I think you should not get fined as you’ve already started the process, but not 100% sure.

      Ask these people here:

      https://www.facebook.com/DrivingSpain/

      The contents on this Facebook group are provided by a real Spanish Guardia Civil officer from the Road Division, who I know in person. They should be able to tell you by law.

      I hope this helps :-)

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