Driving in Spain: What Rules Apply to You?

Published at May 30, 2024

Depending on whether you are an EU citizen or not, and if you have Spanish residency, there are different rules that will apply to you when driving in Spain.

Driving Licenses

Non-EU citizens residing in Spain can drive in the country using their foreign license for up to 6 months after their residency was issued. After this, they must exchange their license for a Spanish one, or else will be at a risk of heavy fines.

EU citizens on the other hand, can drive for up to 2 years on their foreign license, before they need to exchange it.

Due to a special agreement between the UK and Spain on the recognition and exchange of driving licenses, there is no need to sit a theory test or driving test to exchange your license; there is however the need to obtain a medical certificate to prove your medical ability to drive.

Non-EU citizens from countries that do not hold special agreements with Spain, i.e. United States, will need to sit a theory test and driving test in Spanish to proceed with the exchange. It is also necessary to carry an International Driving Permit alongside their foreign driving license from their first day in Spain.

Please note, that it is never possible to use an International Driving Permit (IDP) instead of a foreign or Spanish license.

Foreign plated cars

It is illegal for all expats with Spanish residency to drive a foreign-plated car in Spain. When a car is officially imported, it must be registered with the Spanish traffic authorities and the plates changed for Spanish ones.

On the other hand, EU and non-EU citizens without Spanish residency can drive a foreign plated cars for up to 180 days per calendar year.

At Nockolds Lawyers Spain, our expert team can help you with exchanging your driving licence or number plate in an efficient and stress-free manner.

For anybody looking for more guidance on applying for residency in Spain, we are also specialists in visas, and can assist with not only guiding you through the entire application process, but also providing you with the sworn translations necessary.

About the Author

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Alexandra FitzRoy-StoneBusiness Development Manager

T: (+34) 951 74 95 91

E: afitzroystone@nockolds.es

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Nockolds Lawyers Spain S.L. is a Spanish incorporated entity with Spanish Identification Number (NIF) B88495577; with place of business at C/ Goya 11 – 29680 Estepona (Málaga). Nockolds Lawyers Spain S.L. is an affiliated business of Nockolds Solicitors Limited. Spanish Lawyers (abogados) are regulated in their professional practice by the General Rules for Lawyers and the Spanish Lawyers Code of Conduct. They are also subject to local bar association provisions. These provisions are available via any of the Spanish Bar Associations. Nockolds Lawyers Spain S.L. is a subsidiary company of Nockolds Solicitors Limited, and it is not authorised or regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority of England & Wales.
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