If you are a foreigner in Spain and would like to drive… keep reading. Because it is very likely that the driving license you obtained in your country of origin is not valid in the Spanish territory, and hence you will have to exchange it.
But all your doubts will be solved soon. In this post you will find everything you need to know to exchange your foreign driving license into a Spanish one, how to do it easily, the 2 available paths, and all the documents you will have to provide.
Can I drive a vehicle in Spain with a driver’s license from my country of origin?
Let’s start by solving this very important initial doubt, since the answer will be of great importance to determine the steps you must follow.
The reality is that, if you are a foreigner legally residing in Spain, you cannot drive a vehicle with the driver’s license you got in your country of origin.
Unless you are a citizen of any European Union or European Economic Area country (nationals who are allowed to drive using the license obtained there), yours would not be valid.
However, there is an exception, since in the case of being in the country as a tourist (for example, if you are in Spain on vacation for 2 weeks) you could drive with a license obtained in a non-EU country and the exchange procedure would not be necessary.
Hence, and to summarize, if you are going to live in Spain and become a legal resident (and you are from a country outside the European Union) you will have to exchange your driving license following the steps detailed next.
Countries with an agreement with Spain that allow an easy exchange
Before entering fully into the exchange process and its details, there is a crucial factor to take into account.
In the previous section we have established that if you are from a country outside the European Union and you are going to reside legally in Spain, you must exchange your driver’s license (although we also recommend you to do so if you are an EU citizen).
However, Spain has agreements with a limited list of countries to make this exchange faster and easier, such as Brazil, Argentina, Andorra or Panama (among many others).
If your country is on the list, good news: you will be able to exchange your permit easily. However, if you do not belong to any of the territories with an agreement, the exchange is still possible but in a more complex way.
If that is the case, you will only be able to do so if you meet a series of much stricter requirements:
- Proof of having been employed as a professional driver for a period of not less than 6 months by companies legally established or with a branch in Spain
- Not to be deprived of the right to drive motor vehicles and mopeds, nor to be subject to suspension or administrative intervention of your permit or license
- Pass an aptitude and behavior control test on roads open to traffic
And, finally, in the event that your country does not have an agreement with Spain and you do not meet these three requirements, you will have to obtain your driving license in Spain from 0.
Beware of this extra requirement
In addition to what we have seen in the previous section, there is another factor that you will have to consider, and that in case of not complying with it, it would prevent you from exchanging your driver’s license.
We are talking about the need to have obtained your driving license in your country of origin before becoming a legal resident in Spain.
That is to say, if you first obtained Spanish residency and then obtained your driving license (in your country of origin), then you cannot exchange it for a Spanish one; and you must start the process from the very beginning (taking theory and practical exams).
Where is this exchange done?
It is worth mentioning, first of all, that the process may vary depending on your country of origin (especially in terms of the tests that must be taken), so we recommend that you first consult with an expert before starting the process.
Once you have prepared and gathered all the documentation, you can proceed with the license exchange at the DGT (Dirección General de Tráfico) to finally deliver your application to the provincial traffic headquarters.
But you have two options here:
- The first option to do it online (you will need a digital certificate), in which case you will receive a provisional document once you upload all the documentation, with which you will have to make an appointment at any DGT headquarters to deliver your previous (original) driving license and provide a photo of yourself so that they can issue your new license
- The second option is to carry out the procedure in person at the nearest traffic office to your place of residence, where you will be given a provisional driving license in paper format, valid for 3 months (until your new license arrives at home)
Remember that in any case, you will have to make an appointment in order to carry out the procedure. You can make your appointment here.
Simply select the office that is nearest you, check the option “canjes de permisos de conducción”, select your country of origin and be patient, as it is very likely that it will take some time to find an available time slot.
What documentation do I need to provide?
In order to exchange your driver’s license, you must provide the following documentation:
- Your NIE or residence card (it is essential that you are a legal resident in Spain to be able to exchange your license).
- Passport (original and valid) or DNI in case of Spanish nationality
- Certificate of census registration (“empadronamiento”)
- Original driver’s license (the one you obtained in your country of origin)
- A recent photo on white background and passport size (32x26mm)
- Completed official form that will be given to you on the day of your appointment
- Psychophysical aptitude report that you can get in any authorized medical center after an examination or tests
- Payment of the corresponding traffic fees (which are 28,30€ in the general case, 92,20€ if you have to take extra tests)
- Depending on your country of origin and the type of license you exchange, you may have to take some extra tests. You can find all the details here
- Legality certificate showing how long you have had the permit, if you have renewed it, etc
How long does it take?
The process can be somewhat slow and tedious, especially if we consider the initial part of getting an appointment.
If you are in a big city like Madrid or Barcelona, it is very likely that the traffic offices will be saturated and you will not find any available dates soon, so you will have to keep trying until an opening slot becomes available.
Once you get an appointment (something that may delay you for 2-3 months), the process is quite fast.
You will have to go to the DGT on the appointed day where you will receive your provisional license, and 3 months later you will receive your Spanish license at your home address.
Remember that if you have any doubt or need legal help, our lawyers are at your complete disposal. Fill in the following form and we will get in touch with you as soon as possible: