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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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