SPANISH DRIVING LICENSE
From our own personal experience, we can tell you that there are different rules that apply for a Spanish driving license, depending upon which country you come from. Some drivers are allowed to keep their own or simply exchange it for a Spanish one, referred to as “permiso de conducir”. Licenses issued in certain countries can not be exchanged so those people need to take a Spanish driving test, which has both practical and theory sections.
Coming from South Africa for example, I was unable to simply exchange my license for a Spanish driving license, since Spain has no agreement or (convenio) with South Africa in this regard.
Those who have an EU license :
The exchange process for those who have EU driving license is regulated as part of EU agreements and the process is quite straight forward. An important thing to keep in mind is that before you exchange your license you have to have a green card NIE (Certificado de registro de ciudadano UE). Depending on the circumstances (such as when the license expires) the process might be considered under renewals in which case a medical exam is required. It is simple hands eyes coordination.
Those who have British license:
The last news we have on this is that UK citizens had until the end of 2020 to exchange their driving license. As you might be aware, if you are a new comer, the process to obtain the NIE has also been made more complicated since this July (2020), so our advice is to hurry up with this procedure. The exchange itself should at this point go exactly as an EU license, but as mentioned if you don’t have a NIE yet, the process for obtaining that one now is a bit more time consuming. Therefore we suggest to start as soon as possible. At this point, the UK driving licenses will be considered third country licenses and from then on it will depend if there will be additional agreements or not, but in case there is not agreement, the whole driving test would need to be taken as if you had never driven before.
Those who are from countries outside EU:
You are able to drive using your original license for up to 6 months after you have obtained Spanish residency status.
Whilst driving on this original license, it is a requirement to have a Spanish translation with you at all times.
There are some exchange agreements in place between Spain and several other countries (Switzerland, South Korea and Japan, as well as a number of South American countries) which allow a simple exchange when this initial 6 months has passed. Those from a country not on the list will have to take the Spanish driving test.
The documentation for exchanging a driver’s licence from a non-EU country is similar to that for an EU licence, but also includes a certificate of psychological aptitude which has been issued following a medical examination. Depending on the type of vehicle you are licensed to drive, additional tests may apply.
Every driver starts out with 12 points, but this can be raised to 15 points with no offences. Points are taken away for any driving misdemeanour. A list of the difference offences and the relevant points can be obtained from the local traffic office.
On the website of the traffic department there is a search facility for drivers to check their current points level.
Those who are not officially resident in the country will simply be fined for traffic offences but it is expected that these will be paid on the spot.