Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Is My UK Driving Licence Valid in Spain?

Recently much has been written and questions asked about the legality of UK driving licences in Spain. The law changes at the drop of a hat and lots of rumours filter around so people don’t know what to do or who to believe.

The law regarding UK driving licences was approved in Spain in 2009, but did not come into force until 19th January 2013. It states that all European residents who have been living in Spain for more than 2 years who DO NOT have a European driving licence (photo card style) have to change their UK paper licence for a Spanish licence.

If you have the UK photo card style you don’t have to change it straight away, but if you live full time in Spain, or more than 183 days per year then you are required to change it to Spanish at renewal. 

Several years ago many people resident in Spain used to report their UK licence as lost to DVLA, get a duplicate and then use the original ´lost´ licence to apply for a Spanish licence. Not legal. You cannot have a licence in each country and nowadays Trafico and DVLA are in contact with each other.  If you choose to go back to the UK you can hand in the Spanish licence and request a UK version.

Applying for a Spanish licence is quite simple and can either be done in person at Trafico offices, selected medical centres that supply the medical certificate will also do the paperwork for you, or you can use your Gestor. You will need; an application form, your current paper driving licence, medical certificate (not always necessary), photo and NIE.

Another point to be aware of with UK photo card licences is the expiry date. These licences only last for a maximum of 10 years (depending on your age) and then have to be renewed. Is yours still valid.


  1. Well done. This is the first post I have seen where it reiterates that the new law 2013 relates to the UK paper driving licence. And as residents we can drive with UK EU licence but it needs to be changed at expiry date. What about the Spanish legal requirement for a medical?

    1. Hi June
      Thank you for your comments. I know there has been a lot written about this subject recently, so hopefully this has made it clear that it refers to the UK paper licences not Photocard type.

      It is my understanding if you are a permanent resident in Spain with a valid EU licence are now required to have a medical when you renew your EU licence. If I get anymore updates I will post them on here for you.