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Exchanging your British driving licence for a Spanish one: What you need to know

Thanks to the increasing possibility of Britain leaving the EU without a deal, exchanging a UK driving licence for Spanish one has suddenly become an urgent issue for Brits living in Spain.

Exchanging your British driving licence for a Spanish one: What you need to know
Photo: anyaberkut/Depositphotos

Officially the rules, that were updated in 2013, require residents in Spain to exchange their licence for a Spanish one within two years of residency (depending on the sort of licence they had).

However given the option is voluntary, many long-term residents never got around to it.

But now, with a no-deal Brexit looming, it is more important than ever to exchange your British licence for a Spanish one.

UPDATE: No, Brits in Spain don't have to apply to exchange their driving licence before Brexit day

If there is no deal between Brussels and London, those who have not swapped their British licence for a European one before Brexit D-Day on October 31st may be forced to retake their driving tests in their adopted country.

A sudden rush of last-minute applicants means appointments at offices of the government's Direccion General de Traffico (DGT) around Spain are filling up quick, so there is no time to lose.

The process of exchanging a driving licence issued by an EU country for a Spanish one should be quite straightforward, but of course, as anyone with experience of Spanish bureaucracy knows, there can be hiccups along the way.

There are two options to swap your driving licence for a Spanish one. The result is the same but the processes are slightly different.

You can either RENEW your licence or EXCHANGE it and it all depends on how long you have been resident in Spain, your age and when your licence expires.

Renewal guidelines:

According to Article 15, paragraph 4 of the Spanish Regulation General Drivers, it is compulsory for drivers to renew their EU/EEA driving licences whose validity is:

  • permanent (never expires);
  • 15 years or more on date of issue for Group 1 (AM, A1, A2, A, B and BE);
  • five years or more on date of issue for the Group 2 (BTP, C1, C1E, C, CE D1, D1E, D, DE).

In addition, holders of EU/EEA driving licences who have Spanish residency must also renew their driving licence if it’s already expired or close to the expiry date.

For all other cases it is likely to be the exchange option.

DGT explains it HERE.

Once you have decided what to go for follow follow this step-by-step guide to simply the process.

Make an appointment

The first challenge is to secure yourself an appointment  – Cita Previa – at your local DGT office.

You will need to go to the DGT website and choose the right options from the drop down menu.  

Choose either: 'Renovación de permisos de conducción comunitarios' for renewals OR 'Canje de permiso de conducción europeo' to exchange

Once there, put in your location and choose the Reino Unido option, then cross your fingers, say a prayer and click “continuar”

The chances are you will be told that all the available appointments for the coming days have been filled and to check back later. Repeat the request several dozen times over the course of a week and you might be luckily enough to snag yourself a slot.

Insider tip 1: If the nearest office to you is full try one in a neighbouring town or city, For example the first available appointment for the central Madrid office was a 6 week wait. But in Alcala-de-Henares (just a short train ride away) it was possible to get one within a week.

Insider tip 2: Some people have reported that they were able to apply for an 'exchange' at a 'renewal' appointment. Don't bet on it, but it might be worth a try!

Get the right paperwork

Photo: Billiondigital/Depositphotos

Once you have secured the appointment, make sure all your paperwork is in order.

You will need:

  • Your British driving licence (or if it is lost or stolen then a certificate of entitlement issued by DVLA and translated in Spanish)
  • Your ID, take passport, NIE and Padron. In some places it has been known to ask for your National Insurance Number in the UK so they can check up with the DVLA
  • A medical certificate (For renewal only).
  • Two recent photographs, passport size.
  • Application form.

You can download the form, print them off and take them with you. HERE.

The process

At the first appointment you must present the filled in renewal/exchange form, present your originals of the documents required and handover copies. The DGT will then verify the authenticity of the licence with the DVLA and once verified they will contact you and tell you to make a second appointment.

This is when you need to take the medical test. (For renewal only, not exchange)

At the second appointment you hand over your original driving licence and medical certificate and will be issued with a temporary Spanish driving licence which is valid to drive in Spain until your new licence is issued.  

After a few weeks, the final, original Spanish driving licence will be sent to your home by post.

About the medical certificate

Photo: Deposit photos

You only need to make an appointment for a medical after you have made your application at the first appointment with the DGT, it only has a validity of three months so you don’t want it to expire before your second appointment.

The medical test is carried out at a centre approved by the DGT. They will be able to give you a list of the approved centres at the first appointment. There is also a list of approved centres on the DGT website HERE:

The medical test is very basic and is designed simply to check that you have no physical disabilities to prevent safe driving. You will be asked a series of questions about pre-existing medical conditions and take a simple eye and hearing test.

How much will it cost?

You will have to pay an application fee at your first appointment. This can be done using a bank card but cannot be paid in cash.

Fee for renewal is €24.10  and for exchange is currently (Feb 2019) €28.30

NB: If your driving licence is lost or stolen:

If your UK driving licence is lost or stolen, you can apply to the DVLA for a ‘certificate of entitlement’ in Spanish that can be used to apply for a Spanish driving licence.

More Information: 

If you have been through the process, then let us now how the experience was and whether you can offer any tips to those planning on doing it soon. Leave a comment below or email [email protected]

This article was updated on September 26th, 2019.

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Spanish fuel prices fall but can’t stop most expensive August ever

Although the cost of filling up in Spain has been falling in recent weeks, petrol and diesel prices in August make it the most expensive on record despite government discounts softening the blow.

Spanish fuel prices fall but can't stop most expensive August ever

Filling up a tank of petrol or diesel in Spain costs between €16 and €23 more than a year ago, making it the most expensive August on record – despite the government’s 20 cents per litre discount on fuel.

Filling an average 55 litre tank with either petrol or diesel now costs around €93, which is equivalent to €16 more than a year ago for petrol, and €23 more for diesel.

READ ALSO: REMINDER: How drivers in Spain can get 20 euro cents off every litre of fuel

Until this week, peak prices for the first week of August were back in 2013, when petrol cost €1.472 a litre and diesel €1.376, 16 percent and 19 percent less than current costs.

Prices have also already exceed the average monthly costs in August 2021, by 17 percent and 25 percent respectively, when fuel reached €1.416 and €1.29.

Falling prices

Despite these record breaking prices, fuel prices in Spain have actually been falling in recent weeks, reaching their lowest values since May.

As of Thursday 4th August, petrol in Spain is sold on average at €1.702 per litre, and diesel €1.693, including the government discount. 

Without the discount, the price of petrol is €1.902 per litre and diesel €1,893 on average, according to figures from the European Union Oil Bulletin.

The government’s reduction on fuel costs, introduced as part of an ongoing raft of measures to help Spaniards amidst the cost of living crisis, means consumers save around €11 every time they fill up the tank.

The 20 cent reduction on the litre was introduced in March of this year, when fuel prices jumped and crossed the €2 per litre threshold.

READ ALSO: Where to get the cheapest fuel in Spain

Below European averages

Fortunately for Spaniards, the combination of falling prices and the government taking 20 cents off the litre mean that Spanish fuel prices are below the European average, where petrol costs €1.856 and diesel €1.878 across the member states.

The most expensive EU countries for petrol are Denmark (€2.218) and Finland (€2.19), while for diesel Sweden (€2.37) and Finland (€2.153) are the priciest places to fill up.

On the other hand, although Spanish prices are falling they are not the cheapest in Europe. The cheapest places for petrol prices are Hungary (€1.29) and Malta (€1.34), and also for diesel: Malta (€1.21) and Hungary (€1.558).

Of surrounding western European nations, Spaniards are paying the least for their fuel. In Germany, for example, petrol costs on average €1.814 a litre and diesel €1.943. In France, the costs are €1.844 and €1.878 respectively; in Italy €1.877 and €1.851; and across the border in Portugal, the prices are €1.889 and €1.83.