SPANISH DRIVING LICENSE
From 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 “licencia de conduccion”. Others are required to exchange it, and for some others it 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 :
You are allowed to drive with that license in Spain, providing you are older than 18. There is no requirement for the license to be exchanged but it can be done. However if you choose to keep your EU license, you should be aware that you would need to adhere to Spanish conditions while driving in Spain.
This includes the required medical exams, the validity period, tax payments and penalties.
Also bear in mind that you would be required to register with the traffic authorities (Jefatura Provincial de trafico) within 6 months of arrival. This will be followed by a medical exam.
Their contact information is as follows :
If you prefer to change your license, you simply need to go to the local traffic office and make an application.
They will need to see proof of ID, such as a passport, proof of residency status, original valid drivers license, a written declaration to confirm that the applicant has not been suspended from driving, a declaration to show the that the holder does not have another licence in another country and two recent passport-sized photographs.The Spanish licence is the size of a credit card and will be sent via the postal service. This will need to be renewed every 10 years if the holder is under the age of 45, every 5 years after the age of 45 and below the age of 70.
Those who are from countries outside EU :
You are able to drive using your original license for up to 6 months after you´ve obtained Spanish residency status.
While 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.
Every driver starts out with 12 points but this can be raised to 15 points with no offenses. Points are taken away for any driving misdemeanor. A list of 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.