If you have been following the expat forums in the last year here in Spain you will know the biggest complaint post-Brexit has been the six month limit on your UK driving license. In a nutshell, when you become a resident in Spain, as a non-EU citizen you had six months to apply for a Spanish driving license. This included taking a thoery and a practical test, as well as a psicotécnico test. If you did not, then you would not be able to legally drive in Spain.
However, as of March 16th 2023 the British and Spanish governments have come to an agreement that allows your UK license to be exchanged for a full Spanish one. There is a process to follow which I will describe below, but mercifully no need to take a practical driving test!
The Psicotécnico test
Before you can exchange your license, you still need to successfully complete a psicotécnico test. The test takes place at any authorised medical centre, of which there are thousands across Spain. Go to the DGT (Directorate-General for Traffic) website and click here for a list of them in your area. Depending on the centre, some have online portals to make a booking, others you just ring up.
The one I used, has an email address to contact. I wrote an email in English, saying what I was after, quoted my NIE number, and then ran it through Google Translate to make sure it was clear.
Within an hour I had a reply offering me an appointment in a couple of days.
The appointment itself only lasts ten minutes. Make sure you bring your driving license and NIE number along. The following things were covered:
- Health. Some simple questions about your health and lifestyle including whether you smoke or drink alcohol.
- Coordination and movement test. This involves using a machine with two handles to steer a ball within a marked area. Another part involves pressing a button to stop the ball at the line.
- Eye test. The final part is a simple eye test, reading letters off a chart with one eye covered. Not much different to what you would get at the optician.
When you complete the test, you get a paper certificate to show you have successfully passed the test. Keep this safe because it will be needed for your appointment with the DGT to actually exchange your license.
Exchanging your license
With your sucessful psicotécnico completed you can go to the DGT website and book an appointment here to exchange your license.
You will need the following things for the appointment:
- This form completed.
- Your passport
- Your TIE card or proof of residence.
- Your UK driving license
- Your UK license sharing code. This is the same thing you need when you hire a car in Europe since Brexit. Go to the UK government website here. You need your NI number, UK postcode and driver number.
- Your psicotécnico test report
- A passport style photograph
- Proof of payment of fee 2.3 on form 791-502 – more on this below.
The fee is 28.87€ currently and can be paid at the DGT, or to save time, at a ATM cash machine beforehand. Go to this website, choose Grupo 2 and click the basket next to 2.3 – Obtención del permisos o licencias por perdida de Puntos. Then click generar presupuesto. This will create a unique invoice for the fee. Fill this in, and print it out. You then need to actually pay the invoice at the cash machine.
This is the same process as paying for your TIE card. Nearly all Spanish cash machines have options for paying fees and fines. You put in the code you are paying (in this case 791-502) and your unique invoice number (its next to the barcode). The money will be debited directly from your card.
A receipt will also be generated, so grab this and attach it to the print out of the invoice.
That is everything you need. At your appointment your documents will be checked and taken from you. Apparently it is currently about six weeks until you get your shiny new license. In the meantime you will be issued with temporary paper permit to use. Your full license will be posted to you, so at least you do not need to make another appointment to collect it!
Important note – The temporary permit is only valid for driving in Spain. You need to stay in the country until you have your full license.
It sounds a lot of work, and in fairness it probably is. In terms of Spanish bureaucratic processes it is no more difficult then applying for your TIE and definitely easier than applying for your visa! Our appointments are next week so we will update this blog with how we get on!