Driving Licences in Spain
All EU driving licenses are recognized in Spain. If you are European Union citizen, you may drive in Spain until your license expires, then you must apply for a Spanish driving license and prove your residency in Spain (showing your NIE no. and registration of your property with the local Town Hall would be enough).
If you are from outside the EU and wish to drive throughout the Spanish territory for long periods, then your driving license shall be translated by an official translator. You can also drive on an international license. After 1 year, you must obtain a Spanish driving license as you cannot continue driving under your license duly translated, nor under an international permit. You should then apply for a Spanish driving license for which you shall need to proof your residency in Spain.
Once you get your Spanish driving license, your foreign license is returned to the issuing office of your home country.
New laws have been recently introduced and these state that if you hold an EU driving licence, you need to hold a medical certificate, the same as a Spanish national. For drivers aged between 18-45, your medical examination is every 10 years. From 45-70 years, every 5 years and for 70 years of age upwards, every two years. If you are caught for ANY driving offence and your medical examination is not current, you will be deemed to NOT HAVE a driving licence.
Driving Licenses and Penalty Points on your Driving Licenses in Spain
Driving without a license will be penalised with up to 6 months jail sentence and a 288.000 euros fine.
Driving licenses in Spain have a credit of 12 points from 1st July 2006, except in the case of drivers who have been driving for 3 years or less; those only have 8 points.
The points will be deducted from licenses of drivers caught committing driving offences – some of them were not considered as such before this new law. Depending on how serious the offence is, drivers will have from 2 to 6 points deducted from their license.
You lose 2 points:
Stopping in bus lanes , pedestrian crossings or creating danger for passing traffic
Using devices to locate radar speed camera detectors (not GPS)
Driving without lights when required
Riding a motorbike with a passenger under 12 years old
Exceeding speed limits between 20 and 30 km/h
You lose 3 points:
Not following traffic signs or road markings instructions
Using any devices that could distract your attention from driving: mobile phones, earphones, etc.
Not keeping a safe distance from the vehicle in front
Driving without a seatbelt or without a helmet in the case of motorbikes
Exceeding speed limits between 30 and 40 k/ph
You lose 4 points:
Driving on motorways or highways where there is restricted access for your type of vehicle.
Exceeding by 50% the maximum passenger capacity of the vehicle
Not driving with the required license for the type of vehicle you are driving
Throwing objects on the road that could cause fire or accidents
Putting other drivers at risk
Exceeding speed limits by over 40 k/ph
Ignoring traffic lights when in red or a stop sign
Breaking overtaking rules, being a hazard to oncoming vehicles or overtaking in low visibility areas
Endangering cyclists’ lives by blocking or passing too close to them
Illegally parking or waiting on a motorway or highway
Ignoring the instructions of traffic police officers
Hindering overtaking vehicles by accelerating or with other manoeuvres
You lose 6 points
Driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or other substances
Reckless driving in the wrong lane or taking part in illegal races
Refusing to take a breathalysing test, a drugs test or a test for other substances
Driving 50% more than the speed limit
Despite the maximum points an offender can lose in one day is 8 points, this system gives traffic authorities the power to immediately withdraw the licence if the offence is considered to be extremely serious, i.e. driving under the effects of alcohol or drugs, refusing to do a breathalyser test or driving at over 50 percent the speed limit.
Fines will be also imposed according to how serious the offence is: a fine for a serious offence ranges from 91 euros to 300 and a very serious from 301 to 600 euros.
Recovering Lost Driving license points
When a driver loses points from Spain’s point based drivers’ license, they can officially be recuperated in two ways:
Two points are given back to drivers if they manage not to lose any points for two years.
Attending special refresher theory and road safety courses is a requirement for those who loose all their points. They also have their license taken away for 6 months, if it is the first time, or 12 months if is the second, and when their licence is returned, they only have 8 points.
The Guardia Civil are entitled to ask you to pay your fine immediately as a tourist, unless you can prove you have a Spanish address that will cover for you if you do not pay. If you are unable to pay immediately, they can impound the car. It is therefore wise to pay immediately, especially as there is a 20% reduction if you do so. Be sure to get a receipt, especially if you think the police officer has been unfair.
Minimum age for driving, provided you hold a full UK licence, is 18 for a car and for a motorcycle over 75cc. If you have got an old-style all-green licence you might find the police will not understand them, so either get them up-dated or take an International Driving Permit as well.