INFORMATION FOR UK CITIZENS
From May 1st 2022, if you have been resident in Spain for more than six months and have not exchanged your UK licence for a Spanish one, you will no longer be able to use your UK driving licence for driving in Spain. Nor can you use an International Driving Permit (IDP). The fine for driving with a licence from a third country (such as the UK) which has no exchange agreement with Spain is 500 euros and the immobilisation of the vehicle.
Note: Negotiations continue between the UK and Spanish governments on this issue and on November 18th 2022 the British Embassy confirmed that the UK has finally reached with the Spanish government. The process now has to go through legal checks, the securing of ministerial approval on both sides, and the necessary treaty process and formal exchanges. The timeframe for this final step is not known but the Embassy assures British residents that the procedures are underway and once legal and political approvals are done, confirmation will be published in the Spanish state bulletin – the BOE. From that point, British citizens resident in Spain will have six months to exchange their UK licence for a Spanish one and during that time, they will be able to drive using their existing valid UK licence.
Link: DGT – Solicitud Examen Teórico Por Libre
There are a number of procedures to follow, according to your status with DGT – Dirección General de Tráfico.
UK nationals who registered with DGT before December 30th 2020
As of May 1st 2022, if you are a UK national who was legally resident in Spain before January 1st 2021, your valid UK driving licence will no longer be valid for driving in Spain
Note that this only applies to British citizens officially resident in Spain. British tourists can continue to use their UK driving licence to drive in Spain without the need for an International Driving Permit. However, if you were once officially resident in Spain and are returning for a short-term holiday, you need to ensure that you have de-registered from the padrón of the municipality in which you were resident to avoid a possible fine from the police who may refer to the padron list if you are stopped.
UK nationals who did not register with the DGT before December 30th 2020
UK nationals who did not register their details with the DGT or moved to Spain after January 1st 2021 will need to follow the process for non-EU nationals which includes taking a Spanish driving test, both theory and practical.
For those who moved to Spain after January 1st 2021, their UK licence is valid for six months from the date of the issue of their TIE residency.
Your Spanish Licence
You can use a Spanish licence for driving in the UK for short trips. If you move back to the UK on a permanent basis, you can exchange your Spanish licence for a UK equivalent without taking a test.
Remember: If you are resident in Spain, you cannot renew your UK driving licence with the DVLA. If your licence expires (or is lost or stolen), you will have to apply to the DVLA for a ‘Certificate of Entitlement‘ to be able to apply for a Spanish driving licence.
THE APPLICATION PROCESS
The completed application form [PDF – external link] on which the applicant must sign a statement that they are not deprived by court order of the right to drive motor vehicles and mopeds and that they do not possess another EU or EEA permit of the same class as the one requested or that has been restricted, suspended or cancelled.
Proof of Residence
The originals of one of the following documents:
- Tarjeta Identificación Extranjeros (TIE) – the Foreigner’s Identity Card
- Authorisation for Temporary or Permanent Residence (the green certificate). A passport will also be required as proof of identity.
- Receipt of Application or Renewal of TIE. A passport will also be required as proof of identity.
On the official application form, the applicant can authorize the DGT to electronically verify the registration address and IAE. However, if the DGT don’t obtain valid information, the applicant must provide the necessary documentation.
The UK driving licence to be exchanged.
It must be valid and the licence will be verified as such with the DVLA in the United Kingdom.
Proof of Payment
The cost of exchanging a driving licence is 28.30 euros. This must be done in advance and can be realised online via the DGT portal [external link] using a digital certificate or electronic ID, in person at any Trafico office using a valid credit or debit card only, or at any bank, etc. either by cash or by bank transfer and, in this latter option, the applicant must use a self-assessment form (Modelo 791).
It must be 32mm x 26mm in size, in colour and with a plain background, taken from the front with the head uncovered and without sunglasses or other garment that could prevent or hinder identification.
The DGT have launched a new system for processing driving licence exchanges for UK nationals resident in Spain.
It is a two-step process:
- The APPLICATION PROCESS.
This can be done through the online DGT portal [external link – available in English] if you have a digital certificate/CLAVE, by telephone on 060, or in person by submitting an application form at any Trafico office.
- The EXCHANGE PROCESS will always be done in person, which means requesting an appointment using the online DGT portal or by telephone on 060. Appointments can be requested three business days after submission of the application. All requested documentation must be presented as well as verification that the application for exchange was made within the required time. Requests made after December 30th 2020 will not be processed.
The application process can be made by any person authorized on your behalf, but this person must be a recognized power of attorney registered with the DGT.
You could also seek advice from companies or individuals who are able to guide you through any tricky red tape processes in Spain. We recommend Carmen Alesanco for her professional assistance in such matters.
You can check the status of the exchange process via the DGT link given below. You’ll need your NIE and date of birth.
DRIVING IN SPAIN
Driving a car which is not your own
You can drive any car, including one which is not your own, so long as the vehicle has all the correct documentation, such as the Permiso de Circulación, a current ITV, and valid insurance, and that you, as the driver, possesses a valid driving licence. However, it is recommended that the vehicle owner contacts their insurance company for any particular regulations that might affect your policy, such as if the driver is under the age of 26 or if their driving licence is a non-EU one, which could attract additional costs in the case of an accident.
The DGT provides an option for a vehicle owner to inform them that someone else will be regularly using their car for continuous periods of more than 30 days, for example, if they don’t live in Spain and a friend or neighbour uses the vehicle on a regular basis. This is beneficial in that any driving infraction that is committed by this person whilst driving your car is automatically sent directly to that person which means that they will be able to deal with any fines, etc. immediately.
This can be achieved through this link which opens an official DGT page – COMUNICACIÓN DEL CONDUCTOR HABITUAL – through which you, as the vehicle owner, can inform the authorities of a regular user of your car as well as modify the details at any time. It is also important that the owner contact the DGT when the person stops using the vehicle on a regular basis so that notifications of any possible infractions revert back to the owner.
If someone else was driving your vehicle when an infraction occurred and the paperwork was sent directly to you as the owner, you can contact the DGT to request that they notify that person directly using this link.
- Appointment Request for Office Procedures (in Spanish)
– Select: “Alicante/Alacant”.
– Select: Canjes de Permisos de Conducción.
– Select: “Reino Unido”.
- Royal Decree 818/2009 – General Regulations for Drivers (in Spanish)
- DGT – Exchange, Registration, Renewal and Substitution of EU and EEA Permits (in Spanish)