In recent weeks I have received quite a few enquiries both directly and by means of local forums about the obligation to obtain a Spanish drivers license. There is still a lot of confusing surrounding the topic as the information that has been provided by the authorities and the correct understanding of the law that governs renewals has been conflicted up until now. Hopefully, this brief article will clear up any doubts you may have.
There are two different scenarios in which you would have to obtain a Spanish permit:
1. If your license has expired or is about to expire
2. If your current license is valid for more than a 15 year period or does not have an expiry date at all
Lets look at the first scenario. Any license issued by the authorities in any E.U. country is valid for use in Spain under the same conditions in which it was issued, except if the minimum age is lower than accepted in Spain and licenses that have been restricted, suspended or withdrawn in any E.U. country or in Spain itself are not valid for use under any circumstances. However, if you are a registered resident in Spain when your license issued by another member state runs out, you can renew here but you would be required to pass a medical exam.
If your current license does not come with an expiry date or is valid for more than a 15 year period, you are obligated to renew it as long as you are a legal resident in Spain and after a two year period from 19th January 2013, when Directive 2006/126/CE came into effect which also falls in line with Decree 818/2009, 8th May. Say for example, you were registered as a resident in Spain on or prior to 19th January 2013, you should have applied for a Spanish license from 19th January 2015. However, if you obtain residency in Spain 02/04/2015, you would have to apply for a Spanish license from 02/04/2017.
The purpose of these laws is to ensure the more than 110 different types of permits that exist in Europe follow the same principles and that each issuing country does so under the same laws, terms and conditions.
Another issue that comes up a lot with the Spanish DVLA (Tráfico), is the obligation to advise them of any change of address. The Spanish authorities are not all
linked to the same database so if you change your address, you must inform each administration office separately, it will save you a lot of heartache if Tráfico issues you a fine and sends it to the address they have for you and it turns out you have moved. As far as they are concerned, after two or three notifications that go unanswered, they are within their rights to claim their money however they see fit. Remember, the quicker you respond to these types of notifications the better because penalties for delayed payment are tacked onto the original fine and you could end up paying a lot more than you would have if you had resolved the issue within the voluntary period.