I knew this would happen. It was merely a matter of time.
Sorry to tell you this: but you will need to renew your licence in order to obtain the required Spanish licence.
In addition, as collateral damage, one way or another you will have to pay some money.
Now, you have to decide what to pay:
- Renewing the licence to obtain a Spanish one.
- Fines plus cost to obtain a Spanish one.
The old saying “I did not know” is not a valid reason if they catch you.
Note: Article reviewed on 23/04/2020
New regulations on driving licences
Over the years I have heard lots of stories, in particular contradictory articles published in free newspapers for instance:
- You need to renew your driving licence in Spain immediately after becoming a resident.
- You don’t need to renew it.
- Your European driving licence is valid all over Europe.
- You don’t have to renew it until you are 70 years old.
- Your licence is valid forever regardless of what the Spanish authorities say.
Well, forget them all. Things have changed. Now you should do it in accordance with the new regulations.
Authorities want to establish the Spanish standard for everybody living in Spain.
Spanish licences are renewed after 5 or 10 years (unless you have medical conditions), unlike other countries where the licence never expires or has to be renewed when turning 70 years old.
Does it apply to everybody?
Not quite. Let’s look into it.
You must renew your driving licence if you:
- Are from the European Union.
- Drive using a European Union driving licence.
- Are a legal resident of Spain.
- Obtained your Spanish residency on or before the 19th of January 2013
- Obtained your Spanish residency any time after the 19th of January 2013 but only if you have been a resident for 2 years or more.
Also, if you (any or all four of the following):
- Have a driving licence which never expires.
- Have a driving licence with a validity of 15 years or more on date of issue for Group 1 (AM, A1, A2, A, B, BE).
- Have a driving licence with a validity of 5 years or more on date of issue for Group 2 (BTP, C1, C1E, C, CE D1, D1E, D, DE).
- Have a driving licence which has already expired or is close to its expiry date.
If your EU driving licence falls under the new regulations, the deadline to renew it is 1st January 2016. Click here to read more.
However, you are free to “exchange” your licence in order to obtain your Spanish licence as soon as you become a resident.
There’s no need to make calculations and play with the remaining time. You can go ahead anytime as soon as you’re a Spanish resident.
Tickets for failing to renew your licence of up to 200 Euros.
(Your ticket may come through the Spanish Guardia Civil)
When does it start?
The new law will come into effect on Monday 19th of January 2015. And it’s real. Just do a little research on the Internet (preferably reputed Spanish newspapers, they know what they’re talking about).
There are around 2 million people from the EU driving in Spain. Do you think there is, in addition, a money-oriented reason for this change? Either government fees, fines, or both of them?
Well, it does not matter. One way or another, you will have to make a decision on what to do; but it looks like, sooner or later, you will have no choice.
What do you need to do?
Renewing your licence is not a big deal. You don’t have to take a theory or even a practical test. It is just a procedure.
The Spanish “Dirección General de Tráfico” (Traffic General Direction), also called “DGT”, has published several articles on their Website describing the new law and further requirements you’ll need to obtain the Spanish licence:
Do not forget to make an appointment online here.
You can obtain more information from these two trusted sources:
If you do not speak Spanish you may use Google Translate to get the idea.
Ready to exchange your EU/British driving licence in Spain?
I published this book on Amazon. Click on the image if you would like to get it:
As mentioned in the beginning, this is something I had been expecting for years since I created Torrevieja Translation.
If you are a regular reader of my blog, you’ve read what I always recommend people for their own peace of mind: get everything as legal as possible in Spain.
My recommendation here is to do it, if you are a resident, not taking into account whether you have 6 months left, 20 days, or still 2 years ahead.
But it’s up to you, of course.
I have a feeling they are going to start cracking down and giving tickets as if they were delivering leaflets.
The new law is now a reality… Better to be safe than sorry!
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