If you are like many non-EU English speaking expats who move to the land of sangria nights and tasty tapas, you soon start thinking about motoring down the King's highway here in Spain. And that leads to the question, how do you obtain a Spanish driver's license? With a little investigation you come to the realization that obtaining one of these passports to freedom was a walk in the park back home compared to doing it here.
To begin your quest for a B class (passenger car) driver's license you must have Spanish Residencia and be over the age of 18.
There are three basic licensing steps:
1. medical exam
2. theoretical written test
3. practical behind the wheel test
The well worn path for obtaining a license is to signup for a course at a commercial autoescuela (driving school). This involves attending classes where you will learn the rules of the road and arrange for a medical checkup.
Eventually, with courage and a touch of nervousness, your instructor will escort you to the Dirección General de Tráfico (DGT) facility for your theoretical exam. If you have paid attention in school your efforts will pay off and you will pass the test with flying colors.
Your next step will be to take driving lessons using one of the autoescuela's cars.
When the big day comes, you will accompany the instructor to a central location where you will be joined by a DGT examiner. The official over the next twenty or so minutes will give you directions and evaluate your ability to control the vehicle. Pass this hurdle and you are good to go.
Attending a commercial driving school has a number of benefits. Not only will you receive the necessary instruction, but the school will guide you through the DGT bureaucratic paper pushing process.
The second option is the DIY do-it-yourself approach. Going down this route you will follow the same path as with formal instruction, but no one will be holding your hand.
Your first step will be to prepare for the theoretical exam by visiting an autoescuela and purchasing two books. One will detail the driving rules in Spain and the second will contain a series of practice tests. Both can be obtained in English.
As well as pouring over the study material, you will also want to spend time on the DGT's web site http://www.dgt.es/portal/ where you will find numerous Spanish version practice tests made up of questions found on the actual exam.
When you feel confident, drop by the nearest DGT office, fill out forms, pay the necessary fees, and schedule a test date. And don't forget to ask where you can take the required medical exam.
After passing the theoretical exam the next step is to once again visit the autoescuela. This time, no matter how many years of experience, you will need to take driving instruction using one of their cars. And when you and your instructor feel you are qualified, it will be off to the DGT for the practical trial by fire.
Successfully completing the driving test will not only give you a sense of relief, but a monumental feeling of accomplishment.
Now let's talk about the realities of getting a Spanish driver's license. A very high percentage of applicants, upwards of 75 percent, fail the theoretical and or the practical exam on their first attempt.
And uncovering an autoescuela that provides instruction in English may be a challenge. This can be a serious issue if you are fresh off the boat and not yet fluent in Spanish.
In addition, going the full-blown autoescuela route can cost you big time. We are talking anywhere from 1,000 € to 1,500 €. However, if you are willing to put your nose to the grindstone and go down the DIY path, you can save a truckload of dinero. A figure of around 500 € or less is not out of the question.
You may wonder if it is really possible to obtain a Spanish driver's license with the DIY approach...absolutely! I did it and passed both the theoretical and practical exams on my first attempt.