What should I actually do with my Driving Licence in Spain?
Here is the definitive answer about what you should do with your driving licence in Spain
Regardless of your current status in Spain and the type of driving licence you own, in order to drive around Europe your current driving licence will need to fulfill the following requirements:
- it is valid;
- you are old enough to drive a vehicle of the equivalent category;
- it is not suspended or restricted and has not been revoked in the issuing country.
Having made this clear, for the last months we have been investigating the real answer to a very frequent question between expatriates: can I drive with my driving licence in Spain?
First, we need to distinguish between a resident and a tourist:
A) A resident is a person who lives in Spain, which means it stays inside the Spanish territory for at least 6 months per year. This person should be registered as an EU citizen in Spain and it should own a “green NIE”;
B) A tourist is a person who visits Spain for a period shorter than 6 months a year.
If you are an EU-tourist (EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway), you do not have to do anything else. If you are a non-EU tourist driving in Spain, you will need a valid International Driving Licence.
IF YOU ARE A RESIDENT
If you are resident living in Spain, during the first 2 years, you may just need to notify “tráfico” (provincial traffic department) that you became a resident in Spain and will drive here. It is called “Registration of driving licences from the European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway” and can be requested at any provincial traffic department.
Although this is a voluntary procedure, there are some cases in which you are forced to exchange or renew your driving licence, depending on what type of driving licence you have. At any event, and this is very important, you will be forced to exchange your driving licence in Spain after 2 years of obtaining your residence card in Spain under the following cases (please read below).
Please just ignore all false or misleading information from old databases and rumours stating you have to exchange your driving licence after 6 months or anything similar.
As per Article 15, passage 4 of the Spanish Regulation General Drivers, it is also obligatory for resident drivers to reestablish their EU/EEA driving licenses after 2 years of residency, if:
- Their driving licence is not limited in time or
- Their driving licence is valid for over 15 years or longer for group 1 (AM, A1, A2, A, B and BE), and/or for over 5 years or longer for group 2 (C1, C1E, C, CE, D1, D1E, D, DE) or
- Their driving licence is due to expire or expired
If you are just visiting Spain or you are not registered as an EU citizen living in Spain, just be sure you have a valid driving licence to drive in Spain.
Instead, if you are a resident in Spain, you should register (not exchange) your driving licence once you become a resident in Spain, and you are forced to exchange (or rather renew) it after 2 years living in Spain under any of the circumstances above, in compliance with European Laws.