If you’re from a European Economic Area (EEA) country (EU plus Iceland, Norway, and Lichtenstein) you are free to drive in Spain using your existing driver’s license for the first two years in Spain. You must also register with the traffic authorities after six months.
You must adhere to the same conditions as Spanish license holders, including the following:
- Undertake relevant medical checks from a Spanish doctor.
- Have reached the minimum age in Spain for the category of vehicle you wish to drive.
- Renew or exchange the license after two years. If an EU license is renewed in Spain, it converts it into a Spanish license, which then needs to be renewed every 10 years.
Spanish authorities can also compel a person to obtain a new Spanish license if there are issues with penalty points.
If you don’t obtain a Spanish driver’s license after two years and are caught driving, however, you face a fine of €200.
Additionally, you must register with the traffic authorities within six months of moving to Spain. You can do this at your Central Register of Drivers and Minor Offenders (Registro Central de Conductores e Infractores) of the Provincial Traffic Headquarters (Jefatura Provincial de Tráfico).
Once you register, you must take a medical examination at an Authorised Drivers’ Check Centre (Centro de Reconocimiento de Conductores Autorizado). This demonstrates that you are fit to drive.
You can also voluntarily exchange your license for a Spanish one at any time. In similar fashion to registering, this occurs at the Provincial Traffic Headquarters. The local authorities request the following documents:
- application form
- identity card or passport
- proof of residence
- the valid driving license
- two recent photographs
- declaration that you haven’t been banned or suspended from driving
- declaration that you don’t hold another driver’s license in another country
If you’re from outside the EEA you may drive in Spain using your existing foreign driver’s license for up to six months after you have registered for residency in Spain. If your foreign license is not in Spanish, however, you must always carry an official translation or an International Driving Permit (IDP).
The IDP is a document that provides a translation of a person’s driver’s license into a number of different languages, including Spanish. Carry it at all times as well as the actual driver’s license. The IDP is valid for one year and you must apply outside of Spain.