How to exchange the driving license being a foreigner in Spain

If you are a foreigner living in Spain and know how to drive, you would most likely want to drive around Spain and have a Spanish driving license. However, a foreigner cannot legally drive in Spain with a driving license that has been issued by his or her the country of origin unless you are a citizen of any country in the European Union or the European Economic Area. However, Spain has agreements with more than 20 countries like Brazil, Argentina, Andorra or Panama to be able to carry out license exchanges easily.

Anyone 18 years old and above can continue to use their own driving license to drive in Spain for six months after gaining official residency or for the first two years of residence for European Union and European Economic Area citizens.

After this period is over, you will need to exchange your foreign license for a Spanish driving license with the Spanish Traffic Office (Direccion General de Trafico).  Only a legal resident in Spain can make an exchange.

Foreigners need to show proof of being a professional driver for a period of at least six months, that you have not been banned from driving motor vehicles or your permit or license has not been suspended.  You will also need to pass a series of tests of your skills and behavior while driving in traffic.

Once you have passed all three then you will need to show your NIE (Numero de Identificacion de Extranjero) or residence card, your original passport, certificate of registration, original driving license from country of origin, recent photo, completed official form, psychophysical aptitude report, payment of corresponding traffic fees of €28.30.

The process is long and tedious.  It will take about 2 to 3 months before you can get an appointment at the Spanish Traffic Office if you are in a big city like Madrid or Barcelona.  It could be shorter for other Spanish cities like Valencia or Malaga.  However, once you get the appointment, you will receive a provisional card and three months later, you will receive your Spanish driving license.

If you are driving a car in Spain that has been registered abroad, you must register it with the Spanish Traffic Office (Direccion General de Trafico) after six months.  It is also here where you can get the traffic rules and regulations of Spain.