Spain has a backlog of 300,000 people waiting to sit their driving tests

Alex Dunham
Alex Dunham - [email protected]
Spain has a backlog of 300,000 people waiting to sit their driving tests
A driving school teacher takes part in a protest against the lack of examiners causing the closure of many driving schools in Spain 2020, an ongoing problem in 2022. (Photo by Jorge GUERRERO / AFP)

A lack of examiners means that more than 306,000 learner drivers who have passed their theory exams in Spain are waiting for months to sit their practical tests.


Passing your driving test in Spain can be a costly affair, but in recent times there’s been the added disadvantage of having to wait several months to have the chance to sit the practical test with an examiner. 

According to official data provided to Formaster, Spain’s Professional Association of Training Companies in Logistics, Transport and Road Safety, in late September there were more than 306,000 people on the waiting list across the country. 

In Catalonia alone, there are 65,148 learner drivers waiting. The Catalan government has requested taking over the process to offer more examination spaces, a proposal which has been rejected by Spanish authorities.


In the Valencia region, 14,000 learner drivers are waiting on average three months before being able to sit their practical test.

In early 2022, the waiting times in the Canary Islands were between four and five months. Hold-ups tend to worsen during the summer months as people have more free time to prepare for their practical test.

Spain’s Directorate General of Traffic (DGT) has hired 50 new examiners to attempt to address the backlog, but according to Formaster this won’t be enough to solve the bottleneck, which at the current rate will take four years to resolve. 

Spain has lost 10 percent of driving test examiners in the past twelve years. In early 2021, they numbered under 800 for the whole of Spain. 

Driving examiners accompany the learner driver and their driving school instructor in the vehicle during the practical exam, sitting in the backseat whilst giving the learner instructions during the examination. 

The DGT’s representative in Catalonia has rejected calling the holdups “a waiting list”, instead labelling it a “pool of applicants” which Spain’s traffic authority “has been working to reduce for some time”, adding that currently “about 6,000 exams are organised every eight days”. 

“We think we need around 200 examiners across Spain,” Formaster head Antonio Macedo told Spanish news website The Objective. 

The backlog is a problem for Spaniards of all ages who need to be able to legally drive for work reasons or to gain extra mobility, but also for the thousands of UK licence holders in Spain who have not been allowed to get behind the wheel since last May

Although many of them are hoping a post-Brexit licence exchange deal between Spanish and British authorities will finally be struck after two years of negotiations, they have been advised on a number of occasions by the UK Embassy in Madrid to re-sit their driving test in Spain “if they must drive”. 

The prospect of having to wait several extra months before obtaining a Spanish driving licence will potentially dissuade many of these in-limbo drivers from committing to re-sit their test rather than wait for an exchange deal to be reached.

The holdups also represent a threat for hundreds of small driving schools in Spain, particularly those in rural or less populated areas, as their inability to get practical test appointments for their customers means many are losing business and face having to close down. 


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