British driving licence and Residence in Spain

There seems to be a lot of conflicting advice about if you need to change your U.K. driving licence for a Spanish Licence.

If you are not a resident in Spain you do not need to change your driving licence but if you are a resident you have to change your licence to a Spanish one within a 6 month period of obtaining Spanish residence. If you do not do this and continue driving using your U.K. or any other non Spanish Licence (non European driving licences have a different ruling), if you get stopped by the police then you will get a fine, have your licence confiscated etc.

The process of changing your driving licence is quite simple.


–          Have official residence in Spain.

–          Be over 18 years old

–          The U.K. / European driving licence must not have been obtained while you were a Spanish resident.


  1. Official application form      obtained from the Ministry of traffic (DGT) office or on the web page you will also be required to sign      a declaration that you have not been disqualified from driving and that      you do not own any other non Spanish driving licences.
  2. You will be required to pay      26.60€ fee.
  3. Accreditation of identity

-Passport & photocopy

-Residency certificate that is has not been cancelled & photocopy

  1. Your U.K. or European Driving licence      and photocopy of both sides and the counterpart with a photocopy.
  2. A passport size photo that has      a white background.
  3. Photo card which can only be      obtained at the Ministry of traffic office in person in by a representative.
  4. If you are of retirement age      and your licence has come to its end then you will need a medical      certificate in an accredited clinic (Centro Medico Y Fisioterapia). They will test your reflexes,      eyesight, & hearing. You will be asked about illnesses &      medication. You will obtain a certificate to be taken to the traffic      office. This certificate should not cost you more than 20€. You may need a      translator if you do not speak Spanish.

If you do not want to go to the traffic office in person and would rather send a representative then the representative will need to be authorized in writing with your signature on the authorization.

All this documentation is in Spanish without any translation so you may need assistance to fill it all in.

Once all the paperwork is completed then you need to go to the traffic office which is open from 8.30am to 2.30pm in Alicante Monday to Thursday & from 8.30am to 1.30pm. From 8.30am to 3pm Monday to Thursday 8.30am to 1.30pm Friday.  You will need to pay the 26.60€ fee at the casher then you will get a number and will have to wait your turn. It is important that you have all the paperwork filled in and the original driving licence, passport & residency certificate. If there is anything missing you may have to come back another day. It is best to get to the Alicante office early in the morning, 8 is a good time, there will be a lot of people queuing. This way you will be attended sooner. The Alicante office is a bit like a cattle market.

Once you have summated your paperwork you may be asked to surrender your licence strait away and given a provisional licence or covering document which will be valid for 3 months. Then your new Spanish licence will be sent to you in the post. If you are not asked to surrender your licence and counterpart then you will receive a letter to indicate that your provisional licence is ready then you will be required to surrender your licence & counterpart. You will have to go to the traffic office in person or send a representative with an authorization.  Once the Spanish Ministry of Traffic has checked with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency in the U.K. and the Spanish Foreign office to check that all the details coincide, you will be sent your definitive Spanish driving licence.

A Spanish driving licence lasts for 10 years then needs to be renewed. If you change a U.K. licence for a Spanish on then it will only last for the amount of time you have left on your U.K. licence of that is not more than 10 years, if you have the medical test then it will last for 5 years then need renewing if you are of retirement age.

If you do not speak Spanish at all it is most likely that you will have to deal with a non English speaker at the traffic office. If you need assistance I offer a complete service to deal with this issue. Please do not hesitate to contact me on 617354758.

About Patrick Vine

I am a Englishman living and working in Spain as a property consultant dealing with the technical and legal aspects faceing the expat communities living in the south Alicante & north Murcia areas. I am married to a wonderfull Spanish girl called Inés and have 3 children. Jessica, Rubén & Joshua.
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