So You Need to Get a Spanish Driver's Licence

Published on 3/21/2010 in Driving in Spain

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.

Driving testEventually, 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 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.

Happy motoring.

Written by: Robert Wietbrock

About the author:

Robert Wietbrock is the author of the relocation book, Spain Calls Me. For a more comprehensive description to obtaining a Spanish Driver's license and a free English translation of all B class practice exam questions found on the DGT's web site visit the moving to Spain tips section at

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alicia9012 said:
Thursday, November 3, 2016 @ 2:30 AM

I've found the most complete website until the moment to test my knowledge to get the theory exam. Is . You can do as many exams as you want (I think there are at least 2000 different) and in different categories: DGT exams, intelligent tests etc... They also have the theoretical book online for free. I highly recommend it. I hope this to be helpful.

tom nielsen said:
Monday, November 11, 2013 @ 3:21 PM

hej mit kørekort er blevet strålen men jeg har politirapport på trafico siger de at jeg skal søge om en tid jeg har været der med alle papirer men blev afvist
hilsen tom

laura steele said:
Monday, June 24, 2013 @ 4:11 PM

Where can I get the english manual for theory? i have joined a driving school, but what they are able to give me is only a quick guide to driving which is in English

alex said:
Monday, February 11, 2013 @ 2:53 PM

Hy akhtar,

Could someone let me know
Where i could get the english books for theorical exam?

Thanks in advance

akhtar said:
Monday, February 4, 2013 @ 7:18 PM

i already passed the theory exam. now i am in search of an institute for practicals. anyone can tell me any institute where english speaking persons can guide me

celia fraser said:
Sunday, September 12, 2010 @ 8:43 AM

what i want to know and cannot find out as a brit living in spain and aged 83 can my father drive here in spain on his brit licence or will he need a medical and will he need a medical every year?

celia fraser said:
Sunday, September 12, 2010 @ 8:43 AM

what i want to know and cannot find out as a brit living in spain and aged 83 can my father drive here in spain on his brit licence or will he need a medical and will he need a medical every year?

Louise said:
Thursday, March 25, 2010 @ 12:07 PM

Yes, this is only applicable to NON EU residents, British people are part of the EU and can use their current British licence as Spain cannot discriminate!!!!

Tony Edge said:
Wednesday, March 24, 2010 @ 5:55 PM

We are both english living in Spain permantly here in Spain.

From what you have told me I would advise you to find a local Gestoria to advise you or process the change for you at the Trafico.
He/She would be worth the Fee.
Tony Edge

Tony Leigh said:
Tuesday, March 23, 2010 @ 9:28 PM

The first sentence does say "If you are like many **non-EU** English speaking expats..."
It doesn't apply to UK nationals.

Tony Edge said:
Tuesday, March 23, 2010 @ 6:54 PM

I've stopped reading this article!!!!
We registered our UK (British) licence with the Trafico in Alicante. The trafico took our licences away whilst checks were made to DVLA (Giving us a tempory licence).
Once DVLA gave permission for us to drive in Spain on our UK Licences the Trafico issued our licences to drive in Spain.
It was as easy as that.
(It also gives you patience and Queueing skills).
Tony Edge

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