Changing your UK Driving Licence to a Spanish Licence

Changing your UK Driving Licence to a Spanish Licence

Changing your UK Driving Licence to a Spanish Licence - This can be a complex subject to work through.  


*Driving licence exchange* Following the ambassador’s last message, both the legal and political approvals are underway. We can’t yet provide a date when the process will be complete, but once we have further information, we will let you know. In the meantime, here are provisional answers to some of the questions you have asked about what we expect to happen next.
What happens after the agreement is published in the BOE?
Once the Agreement is finalised and published in the BOE (Spanish state bulletin) you will be able to drive for six months on your valid UK licence, during which time you will need to exchange it for a Spanish one to be able to continue driving. After that six month, you will no longer be able to drive on your UK licence but will be able to continue to exchange it for a Spanish one. When we say UK licence, we mean any valid licence issued by the DVLA (Great Britain licensing authority), DVA (Northern Ireland licensing authority) or Gibraltar licensing authority.
I understand I have to take a psicotecnico test (psychophysical aptitude test). What does that involve?
The psicotecnico test is a short test to check your eyesight and reactions. You may also have a brief interview with a doctor. You will need a certificate showing you have passed the test in order to exchange your licence. It is valid for three months. There are a wide range of providers, and you can find the official list at: https://www.dgt.es/.../centros-reconocimiento-conductores/
Will UK driving licences as a result of an exchange of a licence obtained by a test in a third country be exchanged? (For example, I took my driving test in Australia and converted my Australian licence to a UK one when I lived there)
You should be able to exchange a UK licence obtained as a result of exchange with a third country as long as Spain also has a driving licence exchange agreement with that country. In the example, Spain does not have an exchange agreement with Australia, so you would not be able to exchange it if your licence was originally granted there.
What types of licences can be exchanged?
You can exchange any valid UK car (category B) licence and we expect that many other licence categories can be exchanged too, including mopeds and motorcycles. Further details of all categories will be available when the agreement is published.

19th November 2022 - *Driving Licence Negotiations* Information from the British Embassy - Significant step forward in the negotiations.

The British government will now move forward with the remaining steps. These include the legal checks and securing ministerial approval on both sides. For Spain, this is via the Consejo de Ministros (the Spanish Cabinet). Also, the necessary treaty processes and formal exchanges must be carried out.

Although this simply seems to be a process of steps to be followed, the Ambassador was unable to advise how many weeks this process may take. However, he did confirm that the process is already underway. Furthermore, once those political and legal approvals are done, confirmation will then be published in the official state bulletin (BOE). Once this is published, you will have 6 months to exchange your British driving license for a Spanish one. Moreover, during that 6-month period, you will be able to drive using your current valid UK driving license. 

October 14th 2022 - *Driving Licence Negotiations* Information from the British Embassy

We know that many of you continue to have questions, concerns and frustrations about the ongoing negotiations on driving licence exchange. All you want is to be back on the roads and we want this too. It continues to be a top priority for the UK. Ministers raised the issue again with their Spanish counterparts during our annual UK/Spain “Tertulias” summit last weekend in Oxford and we have continued to make progress on the outstanding points this week. We appreciate you would like to understand exactly what the hold-up is, but as we have said before, there are some details we cannot go into, as that could risk derailing the negotiations – which is the last thing that any of us want.

Lots of you have asked what happens once the final points have been resolved, so we’ve rounded up the most common questions below.
What happens once the agreement is final?

Once the negotiation teams have agreed the text, it will then go forward for final legal and political approvals. On the Spanish side, this means going through the ‘Consejo de Ministros’ (Spanish Cabinet). On the UK side, it will be approved by relevant Ministers.
Then it will be published in the BOE (state bulletin) and should come into force the same day. You will then have six months to exchange your UK licence for a Spanish one (without having to take a test) and during that time you will be able to drive using your valid UK licence.


Will the agreement only apply to those who were here before the end of 2020 and registered their intent to exchange?
No. The agreement will apply to anyone holding a UK licence, whether they were here before the end of 2020 or whether they move here in the future.

Will there be enough appointments within that six month?
It will be for the Spanish Government to administer the process and ensure the provision of appointments. This is something we have raised throughout negotiations and Spain is conscious of the potential number of UK nationals who may need to exchange during the six-month window.
We would encourage you to get an appointment as soon as you can and not leave it until the last minute, remembering that you do not have to exchange in the town/region where you are resident if there is greater availability elsewhere.

Do I have to complete the exchange process within six months of the agreement coming into effect?
No, but you will only be able to drive on your UK licence during this six-month window. After that, you can complete the exchange, but will not be able to drive on your UK licence while you are waiting to do so.

My UK licence has expired. Will I still be able to get a Spanish licence without taking a test?
The fact that some people’s licences have expired, or are about to, has been taken into account by the negotiating team. Expired licences shall be accepted provided that they were valid at the time that the licence holder entered Spain.

I renewed my UK licence with the DVLA when I was already resident in Spain. Can I still exchange it without taking a test?
All valid UK licences issued prior to this Agreement entering into force can be exchanged. However, you should not renew your UK licence with the DVLA if you are no longer resident in the UK.

Once the Agreement is in place, you must not try to renew a UK licence with the UK authorities if you are resident in Spain. If you do so, you will not be able to exchange it for a Spanish one.


Driving section updated: from 1st May 2022 UK driving licences will no longer be valid for driving in Spain if you have been resident for more than 6 months.  

From 1st May 2022, if you have been resident for more than 6 months and have not exchanged your UK licence for a Spanish one, you will no longer be able to drive using your UK licence.

If you have a valid UK driving licence

From 1st May 2022:

  • if you were living in Spain before 1 January 2021, your valid UK driving licence will no longer be valid for driving in Spain
  • if you moved to Spain after 1 January 2021, your valid UK licence will be recognised for 6 months from the date you obtained residence

The British and Spanish governments continue to negotiate on long-term arrangements for exchanging driving licences without needing to take a practical test. If it is imperative that you drive, you should not wait for the outcome of the negotiations to take action. You must follow the Spanish Traffic Authority (DGT) process for non-EU nationals to obtain a Spanish driving licence. This includes taking both a theory and practical driving test.

If you have a licence issued by Jersey, Guernsey or the Isle of Man

If you hold a valid licence from Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man you must obtain a Spanish licence within 6 months of becoming resident. You cannot currently exchange your licence for a Spanish one. You must apply for a Spanish licence as a non-EU national, which includes taking both a theory and practical driving test.

Disabled drivers

If you have a UK Blue Badge and live in Spain, you must return it to the original UK issuing authority. You can apply for a new Spanish disabled parking card. The process is different in each region of Spain. Contact your local town hall or social services department for further information.

Read the EU guidance on the EU parking card for people with disabilities.

Driving outside Spain with a Spanish licence

You can use your Spanish licence when visiting the UK. Keep up-to-date with the UK Highway Code.

If you return to live in the UK, you can exchange your Spanish licence for a UK one without taking a test.

To drive in another country, in addition to your Spanish licence, you may need to apply for an IDP (in Spanish with English translation).

Read the EU guidance on:

Changing your UK Driving Licence to a Spanish Licence 

Basic Information for those UK Driving Licence holders needing to apply for Spanish driving licence, it will NOT cost you a thousands of euros nor take many months. Also it is no major hurdle if you do not speak good Spanish, choose a good driving school with an English speaking driving instructor.

First you need to learn the Spanish highway code

A. You need an eyesight test and medical(see below)

B. The theory exam can be taken in ENGLISH and is 30 x multiple choice answers, so the ANSWER is there in front of you PLUS you are even allowed to make 3 mistakes.

C. The practical driving exam is just 20 minutes !

You only need to register with a driving school to practice driving, not to learn to drive so a MAXIMUM of up to 10 x 45 minute sessions to learn the exam route and practice such things as how to navigate a roundabout in accordance with Spanish rules etc. Budget 25€ per session

DGT exam fees 95€

A reputable school will only charge up to maximum 100€ for their administration fees.

The exam dates depend on your location and will obviously be longer waiting times if you are in a higher populated area.

The actual exam is 20 minutes and will include a section of dual carriageway, town centre and a reverse parking manouveres.  It is a maximum of 20 minutes driving as the examiner has the next candidate waiting, so if you are stopped at a crossing, take advantage of being the most courteous driver as it is eating into the course time and the examiner may cut out sections of the course so as to be able to be on time for the next candidate.

The examiner will only give instructions in Spanish.  However, you will have practised the course with your instructor using the commands in Spanish and if during the exam you do not understand the examiner.

If you really are unable to go through with the full category driving exam there is one final option, especially useful for those that live in the remote areas and just need a vehicle to go shopping occasionally.  You can drive a microcar (max speed 45 kph) with a category AM driving licence from the age of 15.

You still have to pass a medical and a theory exam but the practical driving exam is much simpler and it is conducted on an off road circuit

The medical 

We would advice you book your appointment 1st before getting your medical as this is only valid for 3 months.

Imed Levante Hospital this is the cheapest place to go in the area. call into the hospital and speak to the reception staff (most speak English).  Appointments are made between the hours of 11am - 2pm and 6pm and 8pm the current cost (August 2018) is 43.70€.  It may be possible to get an appointment for the same day.

When you return for your appointment 1st go to the reception desk and they will check you in and take payment you will then be directed to level -2 (lift right opposite the reception desk), when you get out of the lift turn left and follow the corridor to a door marked "Reconocimiento Medico" and wait to be called, make sure you have your residencia and passport with you.

Europa clinic Benidorm - Fees are 48€ if you wish your new licence to just be for car and bike and 53€ to include everything on your existing licence.  There is no need to make an appointment just turn up and wait to be seen, take with you your, residency and current driving licence.  Here you will only be expected to take one test for your reaction times.

The medical examination

The first thing they will do is take your photo, you will then be asked a few standard questions about your medical and psychological health, and details from your residencia taken, you will then be asked to sign an electronic key pad. When answering these questions be honest if you wear hearing aids say so and if you have a pacemaker make sure you mention this.  If you do not and a licence is granted and you have an accident you will not be covered by your insurance and may lose your licence.

Test 1 - Eye site, both eyes will be tested individually and then together, this is a simple test and just requires you reading back a few registration numbers.

If you wear glasses or contact lenses, you’re tested with these and your licence with be marked to indicate this (remember, you must carry a spare pair when driving).

Test 2 - Hearing test, you will be placed in a sound proof booth and asked to press a button when hearing a sound.

Test 3 - You will be sat in front of a screen this part is in 2 tests  in some areas, if you are lucky it is just the one test, this is to check reaction times etc, the first test is quite simple you will be asked to follow a red ball along a blue line, this then goes into a blank space you have to press the button when you think the ball will have left the blank space.

The 2nd part of this test is much harder, you will see two red wavy lines with a white ball, these red lines will move and you have to keep the white ball in-between the red lines, go outside these lines and the machine will beep, dont be alarmed, we had quite a few beeps and still passed. the only way to describe this test is imagine playing the old fashioned pac man video game but playing 2 games at once.

If you wear hearing aids it will be mentioned on your licence that you MUST wear these when driving, if you have a pacemaker the time of you new licence will be reduced and you will have to go back and renew it more regularly for example a regular licence for 5 years will be reduced to 3.

The medical certificate is valid for 90 days, to enable you to make your application for a licence (or a renewal).


A full Spanish driving licence is valid for 10 years between the ages of 18 and 45; between the ages of 45 and 70 it remains 5 years; and beyond 70 years old the validity period remains 2 years. (this may be changed for medical reasons as stated above)

You 'should' receive a letter advising you of the need for renewal as long as your address details are current, but do not rely on this being sent.

To renew your Spanish driving licence you will need to present all your documents at your nearest ‘Jefatura de Trafico’ at least 3 months before the old licence expires, including a new ‘solicitud’ (download as before), your old licence, your residencia, NIE and ‘empadromiento’ (proof of address from town hall) three photographs, and a Certificate of Aptitude from an Authorised Drivers Check Centre (Centro de Reconocimiento de Conductores Autorizado) in your province. (medical as above).

To Check the progress of your Driving Licence applications use this webpage, entering your nie number and date of birth.

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