9 facts you must know about renewing your EU driving licence in Spain


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?”

Or even:

“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?


Before we start… Yours Free

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Universal truth

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?”

Yep, ideally.

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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?
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. You must make an appointment online to renewing / exchanging your EU driving licence. Here is the link:


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.



Yours Free

The Spanish Cash Saving Machine is a free ebook full of unique tips that will save you thousands of Euros when moving to / living in Spain.

Would you like to get it now?

Please click / tap on the image below:


Final thoughts

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?



  1. Paul Power says

    Hi David,
    Thanks for another informative article.
    In point 7, is it possible to pay by debit card?
    Many thanks,

    • David Ruiz says

      Hi Paul,

      Good point.

      Yes, you can pay with debit card. I should have specified that.

      By “credit card” I really meant either “credit or debit card”. I just fixed it!

      Thanks a lot Paul,


    • David Ruiz says

      Thanks a lot John. I appreciate the feedback :-)

  2. Maggie. Wilkins says

    Brilliant advice page David, thank you!

    Do you have a link to the actual form required for DGT please? I can’t navigate around their site to find it. :(

  3. Janet Harlowe says

    Hi David, I have got all my documents ready for my appointment with Traffico Office in a week to renew my driving licence, the form I have is Mod. 2.40 (Jul-04) can you comfirm this is the correct form?
    Also, how do I go about tacking my medical?, and do I need to take an interpreter.
    I look forward to your reply.
    Many thanks
    Janet Harlowe

  4. WENDY KELLY says

    Hi David, thats really helpful information,thankyou. Can I just run something by you. I have residencia,however, I live in uk 6 months ,spain 6 months… I have just renewed my english licence,so I have 10 years to go…. I got stopped by the guardia civil and explained this, the guardia said quote ‘ if you go to trafico and register your english licence on a document called Registro Central de Conductores y Infractores,and carry this with me along wih my residencia,I should be able to drive n problem ‘ unquote. Do you know if this is true ???
    many thanks
    wendy kelly

    • David Ruiz says

      Hi Wendy,

      Thanks for letting me know. I’m trying to find out at the Alicante office, as I’ve never heard about this document (which does not mean anything, as there are many procedures I don’t deal with through my business).

      I’ll post a comment here after I get an answer.


  5. Mike says

    David excellent guiance. Just a couple of points from my experience on ‘canje’ and whether to or not. My UK licence expired in three categories due to age requiring a change. The DVLA could not renew my licence using my address in Spain and therefore issued it against my last known UK address. I had to renew before I could canje. Allow plenty of time! Re the medical remember it is valid for only one month so plan it against your appointment with Traffico. Lastly I live in Murcia, I did indeed get a temporary ‘permiso de circulacion’ based upon the groups on my UK licence and was valid for one month ( the time they estimated I could expect my new one). I had to renew three times due to delays from DVLA even though the contact between Traffico and DVLA is by e-mail! Now the DVLA has centralised all its work and closed local and regional offices more delays can be expected.

    • David Ruiz says

      Hi Mike,

      What an experience, I can imagine how it was trying to figure out everything!

      Thanks a lot for sharing your story with us Mike.

      All the best,


  6. Frank says

    I went to Trafico in Almeria and was told I would get my licence by post in 2-3 weeks. I had it in 5-6 days.
    I lost my German licence, but I got a “proof of entitlement” document in Germany. Medical was quick and easy, and across the road from Trafico!

    • David Ruiz says

      Thanks for sharing your experience, Frank.

      Once the procedure is on the Spanish side during the second part (first part is on the country of origin side), it goes really fast. To be honest, 5-6 days is great, in my experience :-) but I’d say it takes an average of 3-4 weeks

      All the best

  7. David Bagnall says

    Hi David . I have to renew my existing Spanish licence in August but have not received the renewal notification from dgt. Can I still go to one of the centres in Torrevieja without same and what forms do I need to take with me? On previous occasions I went to Alicante and the centre across the road from Traffico handled it all. Can the centres in Torrevieja do the same?

    • David Ruiz says

      Hi there David,

      No worries, just go to your nearest driving medical centre down in Torrevieja. The reminder the DGT sends us is just a reminder, not an official document you need to go ahead with the renewal.

      Take with you your passport, Spanish residency and Spanish driving licence. That’s all :-)

      All the best

  8. Terry Turner says

    I live in Albox, Almeria. I have an UK issued EU license which expires in 2022 so I undertsand that I do not have to exchange my license but it is a good idea to do so. I am 60 so do I needto take the medical?

    I am a little nervous about this exchange since I see that if Trafico issue me with a temporary licnese that it is not valid in the UK. I intend to take a road trip to the UK in October and possibly again at the end of December so I do not want ot be left iwthout a license.

    I see another correpsoindent got his new license from Almeriai DGT in just a few days.

    What would you advise please¿:

    • David Ruiz says

      Hi there,

      Well, I’m not familiar with the way they do it in Almeria regarding the medical. I would go in person to find out. Asking at the relevant office is the best way to avoid confusion, as you’ll read all sort of different stories on the Internet. However, the final word is always at the relevant office where you’ll start out the process.

      Anyway, if you don’t really need to exchange the licence yet, I would probably wait until I came back from the UK.

      I hope this helps :-)

  9. Tony says

    Had to renew my licence in June as I was 70 but still no got my licence back no idea what to do as have moved back to uk a friend is waiting for it to come by post but nothing as yet any idea what I can do to find out what has happened to it

    • David Ruiz says

      Hi there,

      I would keep trying in person. If something happened either in Spain or in the UK, you could be waiting forever, unless you keep an eye on it and chase it.

      I hope this helps

  10. Giovanni says

    Thank you, so will my recently exchanged British to Spanish licence be legal in France.

    • David Ruiz says

      Hi there,

      Within the European Union you should not have any problems at all. Now, if you become a resident in France, there might be a similar 2-year rule as in Spain.

      I hope this helps.

  11. David Williams says

    Hi David

    I am presently in the process of exchanging my old style paper license for Spanish license, i have my temporary certificate and am just waiting for my plastic photo license to arrive. I have 2 questions the 1st is once i receive my license with photo imprinted will this mean i no longer need to carry my passport around with me, the 2nd question is having had to hand over my old UK license can i apply for a replacement UK license when back in the UK meaning i would have 2 licenses, i ask this as although i am resident in Spain i still spend 4/5 months in the UK and though i have address in UK my Spanish license only shows my Spanish address.
    Many Thanks.

    • David Ruiz says

      Hi David,

      Here are my answers to your questions:

      1. Correct, now that you’ll have your Spanish driving licence you won’t need your passport with you, as it will be a form of legal and valid ID :-)

      2. I don’t think the DVLA will issue a British licence, since you’ll have a Spanish one instead. The DVLA should have on records that you’ve done the exchange of the UK licence.

      I hope this helps.

  12. Ben O'Boyle says

    Hey David, brilliant article!
    one question though, you state that you need a Spanish residency to change renew your license and in another one of your articles you state that residency is the green piece of paper with your personal details, is this not your NIE?

    As you say that you cannot renew your license, with just your NIE? so what is the difference? i presume if you have the green certificate and a green NIE, this is enough to prove residency in Spain?