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DRIVING

How much does it really cost to get your driving licence in Spain?

How much money do people sitting their theory and practical tests in Spain spend overall? Does it make a difference if you already know how to drive? Here are the driving learning costs you should be aware of.

A woman and her instructor disinfect their hands before a practical driving class in Ronda in 2020.
How much you end up spending on getting your Spanish driving licence can vary enormously, from a very minimum of €400 all the way up to €1,500. (Photo by JORGE GUERRERO / AFP)

Depending on where you live in Spain, having private transport may be a necessity. Even if it isn’t essential, having your own car can allow you to travel more easily around the country and enjoy a greater level of freedom overall.

So if you have decided you’re going to get your driving licence in Spain, or because you have no other choice but to, you may be wondering how much it’s going to cost you and whether there are price references to look out. 

According to a 2020 study by Compare the Market, Spain is the 9th most expensive country in the world to get a driving licence, only behind wealthy European nations such as Norway, Switzerland, Finland, Sweden or the UK. 

Spain has around 9,000 driving schools, all of which are at freedom to set their own prices for many of their services. There also tends to be considerable cost differences between different regions and cities. 

According to data published in 2021 by Spain’s leading consumer watchdogs OCU and FACUA, the overall expenses of getting your driving licence in Spain are as follows:

Enrolment (Matrícula) 

This registration fee that learner drivers pay when they join a driving school costs an average of €200 in Spain, although again this is subject to big differences between driving schools. Some autoescuelas are willing to waive the fee as part of promotions to get more people to join them, whereas other charge considerably more than €200.

Theory classes (Clases teóricas)

The average cost of theory classes for learner drivers is €203. For this you can attend in-person classes at the driving school and receive the theory book and similar learning materials, which only cost around €13. 

The Spanish DGT traffic authority in 2022 authorised driving schools to offer these theory classes exclusively online if they prefer, and there is no minimum number of classes learners must take before sitting their theory.

Physical examination (Examen psicotécnico)

Before you can get behind the wheel of a car, you’ll need to do this hands-on test which measures your physical, psychological, reflex, sensory and motor skills. In practice, it’s not as complicated as it sounds, you’ll just have to do some hand-eye coordination tests, vision and hearing tests, see a doctor and get your blood pressure measured. 

These physical examinations are usually carried out at health centres called “centros de reconocimiento de conductores” and cost €30 to €35, although again prices may vary. 

Practical lessons (Clases prácticas)

Having lessons in the car with a driving instructor is what learner drivers in Spain usually end up spending the most on. On average it costs €25 per practical lesson, which usually lasts 45 minutes. 

There is no minimum number of lessons learners have to do before they can sit their practical driving test, but if you’re starting from zero it could be as many as 35, which adds up to €750.

For foreign drivers who already know how to drive but have to sit their driving exam in Spain because their licence isn’t recognised by the DGT, the minimum number of recommended lessons is usually five. 

Even though this represents €125, it’s important to keep in mind that you may have picked up bad driving habits that examiners will fail you for, as well as the fact that driving in Spain has isn’t own idiosyncrasies, so it is advisable that you have a few practical lessons. 

READ ALSO:

driving licence cost spain

Driving schools in Spain waive some fees whereas others try to squeeze as many as possible out of learners. Photo: Orkun Azap/Unsplash

Examination fees (Tasas de tráfico)

This is the money that you have to pay the DGT to sit your exam. It’s a fee that’s gone up slightly in 2022 and now costs €94.05. 

You get two extra chances to pass between the theory and the practical exams, so if you pass your theory test the first time round you have two goes at passing your practical, but if you fail your first theory exam you only get one go at the practical. 

If these two extra chances are used up and you haven’t passed both theory and practical, you have to pay the tasas de tráfico again.

READ ALSO: Can I take my practical driving test in English in Spain?

Driving licence issuance (Expedición de los permisos de circulación)

Believe it or not, you’ll have to pay an extra €99.77 to get your actual credit card-sized Spanish driving licence from the DGT once you pass your driving test.

Admin expenses (Gastos de tramitación)

Some Spanish driving schools charge you for processing your file (whatever that really means), around €45 on average. 

It’s an extra expense that not all autoescuelas charge, some include in the price of the registration and others only require it if the learner has to pay their examination fees again after failing. 

So much does it cost overall to get your driving licence in Spain?

There are lots of different factors that can affect how much a person pays in Spain to get their driving licence, hence why it’s so important to shop around for the driving school which offers you the best deal. 

It can depend on the city, the region, the driving school, their promotions, whether they charge for admin fees but not for theory lessons, or vice versa, and especially how many practical lessons you have and how quickly you pass your driving test.

Therefore, an experienced foreign driver who has only five practical lessons and passes the first time with flying colours could pay as little as €400 total. 

But on the other side of the spectrum, someone who’s learning to drive from scratch, has to sit their exam more than once and is hit with all the possible charges at their driving school or city in Spain could end up coughing up around €1,500. 

It’s certainly a big expense most new drivers in Spain should keep in mind. 

Owning a car in Spain is also getting more expensive. On January 1st 2022, Spain’s Registration Tax increased, making 40 percent of new vehicles 5 percent more expensive, on average €800 more than in 2021.

READ ALSO: What are the extra costs of owning a car in Spain?

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LABOUR RIGHTS

‘A long way to go’: Spain’s domestics fight to end discrimination

For years, Aracely Sánchez went to work without counting her hours, always fearful she could lose her job from one day to the next.

'A long way to go': Spain's domestics fight to end discrimination

“They would always ask me to do more and more and more, as if I were a machine,” she told AFP of her employers at a house in Madrid.

Within a collective of domestic workers, this 39-year-old Mexican has been trying to assert her basic rights to have time off every week, to be paid for working overtime and to have unemployment cover.

But given the precarious nature of this type of work in Spain, it is a challenge.

“There are employers who are very humane and who respect us, but there are many who try to take advantage of the situation,” she explained.

“They say: if the job doesn’t suit you, there are plenty more where you came from.”

According to the Workers Commission union (CCOO), nearly 600,000 women serve as domestic staff in Spain where taking them on for housework, cooking or childcare is widespread.

Of that number, nearly 200,000 are undeclared, working in the black economy without an employment contract.

“Many of them come from Latin America and they don’t have papers and find themselves in a very vulnerable situation,” said Mari Cruz Vicente, the CCOO’s head of activism and employment.

‘Exposing violations’

Following a ruling by the EU’s Court of Justice (CJEU) and pressure from the unions, the government of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez adopted a reform this month aiming at ending the “discrimination” suffered by these workers.

READ ALSO: The new rules for hiring a domestic worker in Spain

Under the changes, dubbed by the government as “settling a historic debt”, domestic workers are now entitled to claim unemployment benefits and cannot be dismissed without justification.

They will also be covered by healthcare “protection” and be able to access training to improve their “professional opportunities” and job conditions.

“This is a very important step forward,” said Vicente, while stressing the need to step up efforts to register those who are working without a contract and don’t benefit from the reform.

“This reform was very necessary,” said Constanza Cisneros of the Jeanneth Beltrán observatory which specialises in domestic workers’ rights.

“Spain was very behind. Every day we have people coming to us whose rights have been violated. We have to end such practices now,” she said.

“Such situations have to be exposed.”

SPAIN-DOMESTIC-WORKERS

Around 200,000 domestic workers who are working in the black economy without an employment contract will not benefit from Spain’s new labour reform. (Photo by Ezequiel BECERRA / AFP)

‘Not seen as people’

Mexican home help Sánchez has often experienced such abuses in more than two decades of employment.

In 2001, she arrived in Madrid to take up full-time employment caring for an elderly person for €350 a month.

She then spent the next 15 years working in short-term jobs, almost always without a contract, despite the fact she had a valid residency permit.

“When I said I wanted a contract, they never called me back. They didn’t want to pay contributions,” she said, describing her work as “undervalued” with domestic staff seen as “labourers” and not “as people”.

Amalia Caballero, a domestic worker from Ecuador, has had a very similar experience.

“We often finish very late, or they change our hours at the last minute assuming we’ll just fall in line. But we also have a life that we need to sort out,” said Caballero, 60.

She also talks about the “humiliations” often endured by those who live with their employers.

“One time, one of my bosses asked me why I showered every day. It was clear he thought (the hot water) was costing him too much money,” she told AFP.

But will such attitudes change with the reform?

“There’s still a long way to go,” she sighed, saying many domestic staff “have completed their studies” back home and even hold a degree.

“People need to recognise that,” she said.

Cisneros agreed.

“Our work needs to command greater respect, not least because it’s so necessary. Without staff to pick up the children, run the household and look after elderly people, what would families do?”

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