Driving in Spain: Renewing vs. Exchanging your EU Licence

Driving in Spain

Admit it.

You feel frustrated after reading so much contradictory information about driving in Spain, in particular when it comes to exchanging / renewing your EU driving licence.

That frustration sounds familiar. I was there before, believe it or not.

Even though I’m a native Spaniard, I used to feel like you: cheated, frustrated, and scared of doing things the wrong way.

The more articles I read on the Internet the foggier my mind is.

As yours is, no doubt.


Before we start… 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?

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Warming up for putting things in order

You know what?

In my case, all the mess I had in my mind was even worse compared to yours.

I was supposed to be the expert while I was a total beginner in the early days of Torrevieja Translation back in 2010.

Nothing seemed to be clear regarding exchanging the EU driving licence for a Spanish licence (there was no “renewal” in those days).

In your case, you feel confused because you:

  • Don’t deal with driving licences for a living and don’t have the knowledge.
  • Read too much misleading information.
  • Believe you will lose your original driving licence forever.

And, to complicate things even more, it now looks like you can either “renew” or “exchange” your EU driving licence.


The good news is that this article (and the case studies I’ll mention in a moment) will clarify things once and for all, and will put both “renewing” and “exchanging” your EU licence in order 😉


The main requirement

Okay, let me ask you the following:

Why would you want to obtain a Spanish driving licence if you are not a legal resident?

You may have spent 10 years in Spain without having Spanish residency, but an NIE number.

Sorry, the NIE number is not sufficient for getting a Spanish licence.

Being registered on the padron does not mean you have Spanish residency either.

Actually, no matter how long you’ve been living in Spain: in legal terms you will be “non-resident” as long as you don’t have Spanish residency.


  • A padrón is not equal to Spanish residency.
  • An NIE number is not equal to Spanish residency.

Do you have an NIE number (A4 white paper) but have never officially applied for the Spanish residency (either A4 green paper or green credit card size document)?

Then, obviously you do not have Spanish residency.

Therefore, the main requirement for either “renewing” or “exchanging” your EU licence in Spain is:


Still confused and don’t know what’s what?

Don’t worry, I’m going to write a good article soon about “NIE vs. Spanish Residency”.



This is a “trending topic” nowadays. Absolutely.

The new regulation on EU driving licence has been quite noisy from day 1.

And, to me, it’s been that way mainly because a number of people that do not know what they are talking / writing about have joined the party, confusing the general public even more.


And that’s why I decided to write all of these articles: to help you as much as possible and to try to dilute the dark clouds in the sky.

So, let’s get stuck in:

  • Both “renewing” and “exchanging” have an identical outcome: getting the Spanish driving licence.
  • Both “renewing” and “exchanging” have similar requirements (paperwork).
  • Both of them can be done either in person or through an authorised figure (I used to offer this service on Torrevieja Translation, but not anymore. Please have a look to the guide I will mention in a moment).

Then… why in the world do they coexist if they are so similar?

Here we go:


Compulsory under the new regulation.

The form is not the same. Download the right one here.

Tax is: 23.80€

Must have a medical certificate.



The form is not the same. Download the right one here.

Tax is 27.70€

A medical certificate is not required if:

• Groups do not fall into the new regulation.

• The licence is not close to expiring (at least a year generally)

As always, I’m telling you all this based on my experience in both the Alicante and Murcia offices. Exchanging and renewing your licence could vary slightly at the different Spanish DGT offices.



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

Do you know why so many things seem to be really confusing in Spain?

You are being literally bombed from many fronts with contradictory and misleading information.

That’s all.

It’s just my humble opinion.

I do not intend to appear as the “legend of the industry”. But I mainly write about things related to my professional knowledge.

Why would I write about something that I haven’t got a clue about?

The aim of my blog is simple: I want you to do things the right way, not only when driving in Spain, but in general.

And, of course, I’m a business, so if any of my services can help you out, then that’s great :-)

Got your Spanish driving licence already? Do you have any questions about “exchanging” or “renewing”?

I’ll be glad to read and answer your comments below.


Credit Image: Alex P.



  1. Sharon says

    Just wanted to say how informative I find your articles. I look forward to reading them on a Sunday evening!

    • David Ruiz says

      Hi there Sharon,

      I really appreciate the feedback :-)

      Best wishes

  2. Alan Marlow says

    Hi there if I live here part time surely I don’t need to change my license ?
    Regards Alan

    • David Ruiz says

      Hi there,

      It does not depend on whether you live part time or full time in Spain, but on the fact on having Spanish residency or not.

      I hope this helps.