Both unlicensed drivers and many non-EU citizens are required to take a driving test in order to obtain the Spanish license required of all residents in this country.
If the test is available in your native language at this time, you're troubles are nearly solved. Proceed to seek out an academy that offers support, manuals and practice tests, pay your fees and continue with the course until you pass both the written and the practical test.
If the test is not available in your native language, you will have to take it in Spanish, and this can be tricky for non-native speakers. The test consists of 40 questions, of which you can miss three (year 2003 testple). However, the questions are "trick questions" and, thus, not easy to figure out, even for Spaniards.
Probably the most important thing to understand as you go into this process is that it is well-known as a money maker for the government and the driving academy industry. The test is purposely designed to ensure that failure rates remain as high as possible and those taking the test have to re-take it as many times as possible.
You will be allowed three chances to pass both the written and the driving test before having to pay a fee that buys you three more chances. The three chances can be divided however you like. For testple, if you pass the written test the first time around (don't count on it), you have two chances to pass the practical test. Should you pass the written on your second try, you will have only one chance to pass the practical section.
For those of us who come from countries with different systems, this form of testing can be quite degrading. You can memorize the driving manual backwards and forward, understand everything it says and score well on practice tests, but still fail the big test. What's more, you will not be told what you missed on the test, which means you will be unable to contest the results.
Before losing heart though, take a look at the roads and think about how many have somehow made it through the long process. At the same time, be advised that a variety of driving tests do exist. Special tests are available for those with physical handicaps, for testple, there is a test especially designed for deaf/mute persons. The test is comprised of the same 40 questions offered to everyone else, only they are straightforward with no tricks involved. There are also video-based tests for those who cannot read or write, but need a license for work purposes.
If you are having difficulties obtaining your license, it may be useful to politely question the traffic authorities regarding the possibility that you take a different version test. Be prepared to explain your reasons for needing the license. And remember, that very often, issues are more negotiable in Andalucia than in more rigid societies.
Read Theresa O'Shea's account of learning to drive and taking a driving test in Andalucia. More>