Home Living in Spain Transport Getting a Spanish driving license
Last update on June 04, 2021

Want to drive in Spain? Before you get behind the wheel, read our guide to driving in Spain using a foreign driver’s license or exchanging yours for a Spanish one.

You can drive in Spain using a foreign driver’s license for a set period, after which all overseas nationals driving in Spain must obtain a Spanish driver’s license.

If you want to drive in Spain, you can use your foreign driving license for the first six months if you are from outside the European Union (EU) area, or for up to two years if you’re from the EU or EEA area (European Economic Area).

After these periods have passed, most foreign residents driving in Spain must obtain a Spanish driver’s license, although some exceptions do apply.

Who can drive in Spain?

The driving age in Spain is 18 years – and those aged below this cannot drive here, even if they hold a license in their home country.

Everyone over the age of 18 can continue to use their own national driving license to drive a car in Spain for either the first six months after gaining official residency (non-EU citizens) or for the first two years of residence (EU/EEA nationals).

A car driving through the mountains in Mallorca
A car driving through the mountains in Mallorca

After the specified time period, EU/EEA citizens who are resident in Spain will have to obtain a Spanish driving license either by exchanging their foreign license or renewing their foreign license. Exceptions may also apply depending on the expiration date of your license.

Non-EU/EEA citizens will need to get a Spanish driving license by either exchanging their foreign license or taking a Spanish driving license. The process depends on their nationality or occupation, however, as some countries have agreements with Spain.

EU/EEA citizens driving in Spain

If you’re from a European Economic Area (EEA) country (EU plus Iceland, Norway, and Lichtenstein) you are free to drive in Spain using your existing driver’s license for the first two years in Spain. You must also register with the traffic authorities after six months.

You must adhere to the same conditions as Spanish license holders, including the following:

  • Undertake relevant medical checks from a Spanish doctor.
  • Have reached the minimum age in Spain for the category of vehicle you wish to drive.
  • Renew or exchange the license after two years. If an EU license is renewed in Spain, it converts it into a Spanish license, which then needs to be renewed every 10 years.

Spanish authorities can also compel a person to obtain a new Spanish license if there are issues with penalty points.

If you don’t obtain a Spanish driver’s license after two years and are caught driving, however, you face a fine of €200.

Additionally, you must register with the traffic authorities within six months of moving to Spain. You can do this at your Central Register of Drivers and Minor Offenders (Registro Central de Conductores e Infractores) of the Provincial Traffic Headquarters (Jefatura Provincial de Tráfico).

Once you register, you must take a medical examination at an Authorised Drivers’ Check Centre (Centro de Reconocimiento de Conductores Autorizado). This demonstrates that you are fit to drive.

You can also voluntarily exchange your license for a Spanish one at any time. In similar fashion to registering, this occurs at the Provincial Traffic Headquarters. The local authorities request the following documents:

  • application form
  • identity card or passport
  • proof of residence
  • the valid driving license
  • two recent photographs
  • declaration that you haven’t been banned or suspended from driving
  • declaration that you don’t hold another driver’s license in another country

Non-EEA citizens driving in Spain

If you’re from outside the EEA you may drive in Spain using your existing foreign driver’s license for up to six months after you have registered for residency in Spain. If your foreign license is not in Spanish, however, you must always carry an official translation or an International Driving Permit (IDP).

The IDP is a document that provides a translation of a person’s driver’s license into a number of different languages, including Spanish. Carry it at all times as well as the actual driver’s license. The IDP is valid for one year and you must apply outside of Spain.

A man driving in Gran Canaria

After six months of residency, your foreign driving license will no longer be valid in Spain and you must get a Spanish driving license. Depending on your nationality, you may be able to exchange your license for a Spanish license. If not, you must take the full Spanish driving test, however.

Non-residents can also use a valid driving license along with an international driving license for one year. If your residency is not approved before the international driving license runs out, then you’ll be driving using an illegal license. But if at any point residency applies, the six-month rule comes into force.

Exchanging a foreign driver’s license in Spain

Spain has agreements with more than 20 countries, which allow drivers to directly exchange a foreign driver’s licenses for the equivalent Spanish license. These agreements change, so always check with your home country’s consulate in Spain or the Spanish traffic authority. Certain categories of people, such as diplomats and international staff, can also exchange their license regardless of their nationality (see below).

1. Citizens of Andorra, Japan, Korea, and Switzerland can exchange their driving licenses for a Spanish license and will need the following:

  • application form;
  • valid national identity card or passport (original);
  • residence permit and valid residence card;
  • medical fitness report from a recognized medical center (such as the Authorised Drivers’ Check Centre (Centro de Reconocimiento de Conductores Autorizado);
  • current valid driving license;
  • two recent photographs
  • declaration in writing that you have not been banned or suspended from driving;
  • declaration in writing that you do not hold another driver’s license of the same class issued by another EU country;
  • official translation of the permit by a consulate or embassy (Korea);
  • official translation of the permit (Japan).

2. Citizens of Algeria, Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Dominical Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Macedonia, Morocco, Nicaragua, Peru, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Serbia, Turkey, Tunisia, Ukraine, Uruguay, and Venezuela can exchange their driving licenses for a Spanish license and need the following:

  • application form;
  • valid national identity card or passport (original);
  • residence permit, identity card, or foreign passport, along with the Certificate of Registration in the Central Register of Foreigners for EU foreigners or residence permit for non-EU: original effect. Valid residence card.
  • Medical fitness report from a recognized medical center (such as the Authorised Drivers’ Check Centre (Centro de Reconocimiento de Conductores Autorizado);
  • current valid driving license;
  • two recent photographs;
  • declaration in writing that you have not been banned or suspended from driving;
  • declaration in writing that you do not hold another driver’s license of the same class issued by another EU country.

3. Diplomats and International staff

Spain allows diplomats and members of international organizations with offices or headquarters in Spain, together with their families, to obtain a Spanish driver’s license without needing to undertake the proficiency testing theory or practice. Submit the following documents:

Requests are sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who subsequently send the application to the provincial traffic headquarters in Madrid for processing.

4. Schools, military, and police organizations

Spain exchanges license issues by the above types of organizations under the following conditions:

  • normal/legal residence in Spain;
  • free from any driving ban or suspension;
  • psychologically and physically capable of driving for the relevant license category.

The following documents are necessary:

Taking the Spanish driving test

Citizens of many countries, including the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, will have to take the full Spanish driving test to get a Spanish license.

You must apply at the Provincial Traffic Headquarters (Jefatura Provincial de Tráfico). You need the following:

You must take lessons through a recognized driving school (ie. a family member does not qualify). Look online or in the Paginas Amarillas (Spain’s Yellow Pages) under ‘autoescuela‘.

The test has two parts: a written theory test (see some test questions) as well as a practical test. Both are usually taken in Spanish although you can take a translator with you and in some areas of Spain there are English-speaking examiners.

Road rules and tips for driving in Spain

  • Drive on the right in Spain.
  • Speed limits for passenger cars: 50km/h on hour urban roads; 90 km/hr on non-urban roads, no hard shoulder; 100 km/hr on non-urban roads, hard shoulder; 120 km/hr on motorways.
  • Keep your license, vehicle logbook, and vehicle inspection documentation with you.
  • You must have an inflated spare tire, reflective vests for driver/passengers, and two warning triangles in the car.
  • You can only use mobile phones with a hands-free set.

Driving your own car in Spain

If you are driving a car in Spain that has been registered abroad, you must register it with the Spanish authorities after six months.

For more information

  • Dirección General de Tráfico: Spanish Traffic Office, with information about the Highway Code and traffic regulations.
  • To find a regional traffic office in Spain, click here.
  • RACE: Spanish national motoring organization.