UK driving paper driving licences issued after 1990 and the “new” photocard licences issued since 1997 are valid for use in Spain.
Earlier licences are only valid if accompanied by an official translation into Spanish.
Provisional licences cannot be used in Spain. UK licences for cars held by someone aged 17 are not valid in Spain as the minimum age for driving a car is 18.
If you have held a UK car licence for 3 years you are allowed to drive a motorcycle or scooter with a capacity up to 125cc.
According to Spanish law, if you are resident in Spain, then you are free to use your UK licence but you must conform to the requirement for medicals and the same periods of validity as would apply to Spanish nationals.
The question of validity is no longer such an issue in most cases as the Spanish rules recently changed and most licences are now valid for 10 years which is the same as the UK photocard licence. Previously any Spanish licence issued after age 45 was only valid for 5 years. Renewal in Spain after 65 gives a validity of 5 years. A UK licence issued after 70 is only valid for 3 years so no problem here.
If you are resident in Spain when your UK licence expires you cannot legally renew it in the UK so you are obliged to exchange it for a Spanish licence.
If you lose your licence then it must be replaced with a Spanish licence. This can take time as you would need to get a certificate of entitlement from the DVLA.
Apart from this, you are not obliged to exchange your licence but you do have the option to do so. A medical is not normally required when you exchange your licence. Your UK licence will be returned to the DVLA in the UK.
You are not obliged to register your personal details and the details of your UK licence on the Spanish register of drivers but you can do so if you wish to. Your licence is sent away, you will get a temporary replacement document, and it comes back with your NIE laser printed onto the UK licence. If you should lose your UK licence then it is very simple to get a Spanish replacement as all the details are already on file.
If you wish to have your licence endorsed there are details of the requirements here:-
If you wish to exchange your licence there are details of the requirements here:-
Please note that although the need for a medical certificate is not one of the listed requirements and this has been confirmed by the UK Embassy, there have been reports that at some Trafico offices (specifically Málaga) they have asked for one.
Renewal of a Spanish driving licence is now extremely simple.
You turn up at your local medical centre in the province that you live. You can find out the locations at
You need your old licence, ID (passport), resident’s certificate or valid card. The cost is approx €40 for the medical which includes taking a digital photo and submission of the application to Trafico. The new licence will be sent by post. From my experience it takes about 2 weeks. In addition you pay the licence fee of €22.40 which is waived if you are over 70.
Further details of the process at
The question of the legality of a Spanish resident having a UK licence with a UK address on it is often raised. The DVLA will not issue a licence with an address outside the UK. Under UK law it is an offence to have an incorrect address on a driving licence. This has been checked out with the DVLA in the UK and their response is:-
“It is accepted that drivers who move to another part of the EC/EEA could be holding driving licences showing an incorrect address. This is permissible under the terms of the EC Directive on Driving Licences.”
Other useful links.
British Embassy on driving licences http://goo.gl/6ZQKP
DVLA driving abroad on a UK licence http://goo.gl/cMhU5
EU driving licence details http://goo.gl/OS1eN
Update March 2016 . Holders of the old paper licence who are under 55 and resident, must now exchange their licences as there are more than 15 years validity before expiry and this is no longer permitted under recent changes to the law. The photo licences are OK as they are only valid for 10 years.
Frequently asked Questions about living and working in Andalucia and Spain This section is for information only and drawn from the other forum section threads. Members cannot post to it directly but we accept suggestions for topics and to accept members contributions via other threads.
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