See? Nothing has happened.
The world has not stopped for even a single microsecond after the new regulation on driving licences came into effect in Spain.
I know you felt the panic running through your veins. You thought:
“My goodness, am I driving on an illegal driving licence?”
Or more likely:
“Do I need a medical certificate?”
“Will I lose my driving licence issued by my own country if I get a Spanish one?”
Well, honestly: it’s normal to think that way, especially when one lives in a foreign country.
Driving is one of those things that millions of people do every single day in Spain. And most people want to do it right.
Are you one of them?
Sorry for being so repetitive. I must go back to this topic.
In my very last article I did try to emphasise the importance of obtaining the right information from the place involved when dealing with such matters in Spain.
Of course, at the end of the day, this means you will have to ignore whatever contradictory information you have read from whatever source (including my articles if that’s the case, no exception).
Well, I’m telling you all of this because in the last couple of weeks I have read misleading information from certain “reputed” Websites, as if they have access to the universal truth regarding driving licences.
Let’s be honest:
“The only figure that really has the universal truth of dealing with driving licences in Spain is indeed the person behind the desk at the Spanish DGT (Department of Traffic) dealing with driving licences.”
Let me tell you a good one then
Since I founded Torrevieja Translation, I normally visit Trafico Alicante between 3-5 times a month (do the maths, I’ve been in business for 5 years), you can do up to two licence renovations or two exchanges (or one each) per day .
Afterwards they give you a temporary Spanish driving licence as long as you hand in your original EU driving licence (Update: I went on 20/02/2015 to Alicante and it has gone back to one licence per day. The temporary licence is delivered in a second trip, after they check with your country. Everything you’ll read next will have more sense now!).
In Tráfico Murcia, they will only produce one driving licence per day and per person, and do not issue temporary driving licences until all is verified by the country of origin.
And this is not something that a friend told me, nor did I read it on such-and-such website. No.
I went to Murcia in person and got hit on the nose, despite the fact that I had previously been told on the phone (by the same office) that I could process at least two licence applications per day and would be given the Spanish temporary licence straight away.
Sure, I did not get to speak with the person who deals with foreign driving licences (the real universal truth holder in this whole scenario).
My mistake. Always learning something new.
You may wonder:
“Wait a minute, how is that possible? Shouldn’t it be the same all over Spain?”
But it’s not.
I promise one day I will write a “non-sensational” article about why Spain is so decentralised at times.
So, if you live in Madrid, Málaga, Granada, Barcelona, Sevilla, Valencia, Tenerife or any other part of Spain:
Do you know the person dealing with that procedure? Talk to him/her if you can, and not to the colleague picking up the phone. See what happened to me in Murcia…
9 facts you must know about exchanging your EU driving licence in Spain
- You must have Spanish Residency to renew / exchange your EU licence. Whether you’ve been living here for ages on a NIE number, this does not allow you to exchange your EU licence for a Spanish driving licence.
- Stolen or lost original EU licence. In this case you must request a certificate from your country’s driving licence office to prove you hold a valid driving licence. A deteriorated or a partially damaged original document may not be accepted. This is pretty logical, isn’t it?
- The temporary driving licence you will get is only valid in Spain. This clearly means that it is not valid anywhere else than in Spain. Are you thinking of using it in your own country? Do it at your own risk.
- Your final driving licence is sent by post. At least in Murcia and Alicante, although I would not be surprised if they did it in a different way elsewhere.
- The Spanish driving licence and paying income tax are not linked in any way. Renewing your EU driving licence in Spain has nothing to do with how many properties you have in your country or in which country you pay tax.
- You must make an appointment online to renewing / exchanging your EU driving licence. Here is the link:
- You cannot pay in cash anymore. Tax at Spanish driving licence offices (Dirección General de Tráfico) must be paid either with a credit or debit card, at the bank or online. My recommendation is to pay it with a credit or debit card once you are there in person.
- The medical certificate is not a big deal. You’re not joining the Marines Corp nor becoming an astronaut, so don’t expect anything out of normal for the medical certificate… not even a blood test. Basically, it is just a sight test, a questionnaire and driving test on a computer, but it could vary from place to place.
- Driving on an expired driving licence incurs a hefty fine… if you are a legal resident in Spain. And I mean an “expired” driving licence, out of date, the actual date being beyond the expiry date on your licence.
Still making calculations?
You are still wondering whether you have to renew your licence or not, right?
Ok, let’s make it simple. Here’s my guess:
- You have Spanish residency.
- You’ve been living in Spain for years and plan to keep living here for some years to come (or permanently, as is the case of most of my clients).
- You want to fit in and do things legally.
- You know that if the police or the Guardia Civil catch you they are not going to put their hand over your shoulder and have a nice chat with you in English (and let you continue on without a fine, if you deserve it).
Am I right?
Then, my advice is to renew / exchange your EU licence regardless of how many years you have left on it.
Why do you still want to drive using a licence registered in another country if you are a legal resident in Spain?
Wouldn’t it be better to have a licence that’s got your permanent Spanish address?
You will hear dozens of stories of people that were not fined for things they’ve done on the road, or for documents that were not in force.
They were the lucky ones.
That does not guarantee that you will be as lucky as them.
That’s just my humble opinion.
Are you ready to exchange your EU or British driving licence in Spain?
I published this book on Amazon. Click on the image if you would like to get it:
Many of the things I try to reflect on in my articles are founded from my own experiences as a relocation adviser, as well as those years I spent as an immigrant in the USA.
When we live in a foreign country we play by a new set of rules. That’s something we all should be aware of from day 1. No excuses.
A lot of people think that, since they come from a European Union country, the law is exactly the same everywhere for each and every country member.
You will get fined in Spain for things that you won’t in your country, and vice versa.
It does not take that much doing things right, does it?
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