UK Driving Licences and Spanish Law

UK licence holders, whose licences are not renewed after periodically checking driving fitness as in other European countries, they will be required to renew the licence after a period of two years from the date of their registration as a Spanish Resident has passed or just before the licene expires ie age 70, whichever is the sooner, and then at regular intervals thereafter.

Interestingly if you live in permanently Tenerife or indeed any where else other than the UK it is the DVLA’s regulations and Britain’s laws that you will be breaking!
UK driving licence renewal forms now require the applicant to sign a declaration that they do not live outside the UK and you have to provide 3 years of address details in the UK. In the motoring section of the official UK government web site it states:

Remember, if you permanently move to another country, you can’t register your new address on your British driving licence. You’ll need to contact the driving licence authority in your country of residence.  https://www.gov.uk/renew-driving-licence#what-you-need-to-know

If you have completed 2 years legal residence or longer UK licences have to be renewed in Spain – which to all intents and purposes is the same as exchanging it for a Spanish Licence.

This is a lengthy process, so make sure you start BEFORE the expiry or renewal date of your UK licence.

The process is two part BUT you can only deal with Trafico by making an appointment:

  • First the original application is made at Trafico – for this you need your licence passport and residencia and photocopies.

Trafico then contact the Uk to check your driving entitlement hasn’t been revoked for any reason and when they have a reply they will contact you by email to tell you then next steps.

When you receive the email it will tell you the driving category (ies) for which you are eleigable

  • ALL applicants must  take a medical test at a “centro de reconocimiento” for the category(ies) applicable before renewing.
  • Then you attend at Trafico by appointment  for a second time, at which point your UK licence is taken from you and you are given a temporary Spanish licence until your new plastic one arrives by post. Take passport, residence certificate, (empadronamiento) if your address is different  to your documents) and the Uk licence. Taking the email you recived cab be helpful as well.

New arrivals may if they wish, for their own convenience, exchange their UK licence before the 2 years are up

If before the 2 years are up a new arrival has lost their UK licence or it has been stolen or the picture component of the UK licence has expired then they must renew the licence (exchange) as described above .

You should bear in mind that once your UK photocard licence expires (and in some cases before) you will not be able to renew this with the UK’s DVLA if you are residing in Spain. It may be easier to convert your UK licence to a Spanish licence before it expires.In any case my advice is and always has been exchange the licence now and avoid any difficulties with Traffic Police misinterpreting the rules if your situation is borderline or complicated.

It’s important to distinguish between other European licences which do have medical testing rules and UK ones which do not … see in the image the validity of all of the categories in that example is more than 15 years date 4a is In this example 4a (start date) is 11/05/06 category B (Car) end date is 12/7/22 even though date 4b is 10/05/16 – the difference between 11/05/06 and 12/7/22 is 16 years ie over 15 years so the person has to renew (to all intents and purposes exchange) after being 2 years resident OR they should have dealt with this by the 19/1/2015 if they were resident before 19/1/2013. the applicable rule is << Los residentes comunitarios con residencia legal en España obtenida el 19 de enero de 2013 o anterior a esta fecha y que sean titulares de un permiso de conducción comunitario indefinido o con un plazo de vigencia superior a 15 años para permisos del Grupo 1 (AM, A1, A2, A, B y BE) o un plazo superior a 5 años para permisos del Grupo 2 (BTP, C1, C1E, C, CE D1, D1E, D, DE) deberán renovar su permiso de conducción a partir del próximo 19 de enero de 2015. >> ie the licence is valid – in this sense the driving entitlement is valid – for more than 15 years

Driving fitness medical examinations

Whilst you remain resident in Spain you are subject to Spanish regulations regarding driving fitness medical examinations which have to be taken at various intervals dependant on age. Since 2006 these fall in line with European Regulations.

Driving license classes; BTP, C1, C1 + E, C, C + E, D1, D1 + E, D and D + E have a validity of five years until their renewal falls due at age between age sixty-five years and three years after that age. All remaining classes of driver’s license have a validity of ten years until their renewal falls due at age between age sixty-five years and five years after that age.

The duration of the various classes of driver’s license indicated in the preceding paragraphs may be reduced if, at the time of renewal it is found that the owner suffers from any permanent illness or deficiency which in the opinion of the official medical testing physician would affect their driving capibility.

The term of a driver’s license will also be conditional on the holder not having completely lost their initial allocation of points. In Spain you start with points and lose them if you commit an infringement (the reverse of the Uk system!)