Spanish driving

A Spanish driving licence (licencia de conducción) is the standard EU model: a plastic, credit card-sized permit with photograph. Older licences are laminated pink cards with a photograph of the holder.

Legal Driving Ages and Permit Types
  • Mopeds and vehicles for people with reduced mobility: 14 years (a moped driver may not carry a passenger until the age of 16)
  • Permit A1 (motorbikes maximum power 11kW and 125cc): 16 years
  • Permit A (motorbikes, with at least two years experience driving motorbikes of category A1): 18 years
  • Permit B (vehicles with a maximum weight of 3,500 Kg and with a maximum of 9 seats, including the driver's): 18 years
  • Permit C (vehicles with weight over 3,500 Kg): 21 years
  • D (vehicles for the transport of passengers): 21 years

Note: As of 1 September 2010, the legal driving age for mopeds will rise to 15 years, and the age for carrying passengers will increase from 16, to 18 years.

A permit will also be introduced for motorbikes maximum power 35kW and maximum 500cc, which may be obtained at 18 years.

Licence Validity

A standard Spanish driving licence for a private car or bike is valid for ten years when the holder is aged 18 to 45 years of age, from 45 up to 70 it is valid five years, and two years from 70 on. A person over the age of 70 is asked to present a medical certificate at each renewal.

The periods of validity may be altered for drivers with certain progressive illnesses or disabilities.

Note: Different conditions apply for passenger bus and heavy duty vehicle licences.

The Spanish Driving Examination

Applicants for a Spanish driving permit or licence must be resident in Spain. Application must be made at the Provincial Traffic Headquarters (Jefatura de Tráfico) of the province of residence.

  • To find a local Provincial Traffic Office: Click here

Making the application

Driving schools play a significant part in the process and are able to take care of making the application and submitting the documents for driver's exams. It is important to seek their advice before setting out to take a Spanish driving exam. In some places the exam may be taken in English, contact a driving school for further information.

Documents needed:

  • A certificate of psychophysical aptitude issued by the Authorised Drivers Check Centre (Centro de Reconocimiento de Conductores Autorizado) with one photo. This certificate is valid for a period of 90 days
  • Application and application fee
  • Two passport-sized photographs
  • Photocopy (and original) of a Spanish residence permit (Residencia) or a copy of the passport along with the NIE number (Número de Identificación de Extranjer)
  • Proof of address in Spain dated within 3 months (empadronamiento) available from the local Town Hall
  • Signed self declaration in writing that there is no legal process pending nor licence suspension that forbids the right to drive
  • Signed self declaration in writing that no other licence of the same category is held

Driving theory test

There are two parts to the test, one theoretical and one practical. Both must be passed to be considered competent.

Training for the theory test can be done with a driving school which provides numerous sample exam papers (some driving schools have English translations of the highway code and exam questions available).

The theory test is a multiple choice exam of 40 questions; 36 must be answered correctly. They cover all matters related to the rules of the road, and a general understanding of car mechanics and first aid.

Spanish theory test questions and exam reviews are available from website TodoTest. A user must be registered to use the site.

Driving test

A set number of hours driver training must be completed with a driving school. The practical test is taken in Spanish and a translator may accompany the person being examined. Some areas have English-speaking driving examiners - enquire if this is possible when first making an application to take the test.

The practical test is taken in a driving school (dual control) car and the driving instructor accompanies the examiner and person being tested. The examiner gives instructions in Spanish (or English if it's been arranged in advance) to the driving student.

  • Information on driver awareness from the DGT Educación VIAL portal: Click here (in Spanish)
Licence Renewal

A licence must be renewed at the Provincial Traffic Headquarters (Jefatura Provincial de Tráfico) of the holder's province of residence before its validity lapses. If the address on the licence is current, the licence holder should receive a letter advising them of the renewal date (aviso de caducidad del permiso o licencia de conduccion). Application may be made in person or by post. When applying by post it's advisable to keep copies of all the documents sent.

  • To find a local Provincial Traffic Office: Click here

Documentation required:

  • Completed application form issued by the Provincial Traffic Headquarters
  • The licence to be renewed
  • Photocopy (and original) of a Spanish identity, residence permit (residencia) or a copy of the passport along with the NIE Number (Número de Identificación de Extranjer)
  • Proof of address in Spain (empadronamiento) dated within 3 months
  • Certificate of aptitude issued by the Authorised Drivers Check Centre (Centro de Reconocimiento de Conductores Autorizado) of the province of residence of the applicant with a recent photograph
  • Two recent photographs (32 x 25 mm) taken at the same time as the one on the aptitude certificate
Traffic Offences and Penalties

Spain monitors a driver's traffic offences with a points system. A diving licence starts with a credit of 12 points in the case of experienced drivers, and 8 during a new driver's first three years of driving. Two extra points are awarded for three years without offences, to a maximum of 15 points in total.

A person caught speeding (for example) loses three points from their licence. If a driver loses all 12 points, the driving licence is withdrawn for a year, and once the year is up, the driver takes a special test and a course, as well as the usual theoretical and practical driving tests in order to be given a new licence.

The police have the authority to remove a driver's licence instantly if the offence is considered serious. Fines may also be imposed.

  • A licence's points status can be check online on the Traffic Department website: Click here (in Spanish)
Licence Lost, Stolen or Changing Address

If a licence is lost, damaged or stolen, or an address changes, the Provincial Road Traffic authority will issue a replacement licence. The replacement licence is issued free of charge in the event of change of address.

Any change in the information which appears in the driving licence has to be communicated to the official Regional or Local Spanish Traffic offices within 15 days of the change.