Driving licences in spain, the laws on driving in spain, licences, spanish driving
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Driving in Spain - Driving licences in Spain

 

The Spanish approach to driving has been the butt of jokes for many years and probably always will be. It is, in general, very different to that of other European countries. The system for learning to drive and testing is also very different, and strangely enough, appears to be a lot tougher than many other countries.

 

Learning to drive in any country is an expensive business and Spain is no exception. The average price for a one hour lesson is around 25€ an hour. On top of this you will have to shell out for your theory classes. These can cost between 30-35€ a month or a one-off fee of about 300€.

NEW fines and penalty points - LATEST NEWS

 

Assuming you have undertaken your practical and theory training, you will then be faced with your exam fee. In England you pay each time you take a test. In Spain, you pay for three goes at a time, but only two per type of test. Therefore if you don't pass your theory until the second time, you only have one attempt at the practical and should you fail the theory test twice, you have to pay a second fee of about 161€.

 

Whatever happens, if you fail you will have to wait about three weeks before taking the exam again. Unlike England, in Spain, there are no provisional licences so before you pass your test, the only person you can drive with is your instructor.

 

The highway codes are also very different. The Spanish version is the most in-depth in Europe and has three times as many rules as in England. There are also in-depth sections to be studied on first-aid, vehicle maintenance and vehicle loads.

 

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The theory exam consists of forty multiple choice questions and you are allowed just four wrong answers. This is similar to that in the UK. It is a published fact that most people sitting the exam in Spain, fail, due to mis-reading or failing to comprehend the lengthy questions. Practice papers and the tests are available in several languages. In Spain, the same as England, you have to pass your theory before you can take the practical exam.

 

The actual practical exam can be described as a strange affair. In Spain it is a group excursion. Your instructor sits in the passenger seat and the examiner sits in the back, often with several other candidates. After 20 minutes the candidates will swap places and someone else has a go. You will then be informed of a pass or fail.

 

Once you pass your test you will be awarded a green and white L-plate to display in your rear window. For one year, theoretically, you are not allowed to drive faster than 80kph and for two years you are not allowed to drive with an alcohol level of more than 0.3g (as opposed to the normal level of 0.5g).



UPDATE ON EU DRIVING LICENCE LAWS
If you have a driving licence from any other EU country, it is automatically valid in Spain. All other countries (including the USA), can drive for just 6 months in one calendar year but must then obtain a Spanish licence. A driving school will handle all the paperwork for you. To apply for a test you will need to present a copy of your residencia, passport photographs, a completed application form and the fee of 160.95€ and a medical certificate obtained at an official medical centre (24€ fee).

 

Driving Licences for residents of Spain

If Resident in Spain you have to either change your driving licence or put an inscription on your EU licence at your nearest 'Jefatura Provincial de Tráfico' (in Madrid at C/Arturo Soria 143, Tel: 913 018 500)

 

If you are a resident by means of working i.e. you don't hold a residents card, but are paying taxes and Social Security in Spain and working for more than 185 days in Spain per year, you have to either change or put an inscription on your EU Licence.

 

Spanish Driving Licence - Documents needed:

Residents: Copy of residencia, Driving licence (original), 2 photos and a signed form which can obtain from police station. If it is being renewed at the same time - an eye test from a doctor.
Working resident documents needed: All of the above but instead of copy of residencia, the following: copy of passport, copy of NIE certificate, copy of contract (minimum of 6 months), if self employed proof of Social Security payments, justification of address (cert Empadronamiento / proof of residence of min. 6 months).

Time: 2 Weeks (approx.). Price: 46.40 euros

 

Inscription on Driving Licence - Documents needed:

Residents: copy of residencia, Driving licence, signed form.
Non-residents: copy of NIE certificate, copy of passport, justification of address (cert Empadronamiento / proof of residence of min. 6 months).

Time: Photo card driving licence 2-3 months (approx.) or Paper licence 2-3 weeks. Price: 46.40 euros

In both cases a justificate (copy documentation) will be given to the client, which is valid for 60 days and proves that the original is with the traffic police. This can be extended if necessary.

 

Where to go:
Your nearest 'Jefatura Provincial de Tráfico'.

The Law changes on foreign EU driving licences (at last):

On September 9th, 2004, the Law in Spain was effectively changed as the result of a decision handed down by the European Court of Justice (it has still to be written in the Statute Book) as follows: -

Was - foreign EU licences had to be changed for Spanish ones if you took out residencia (or legally work for a company here), and drove a Spanish registered (plated) car, or the licence had to be registered if you stayed over three months or bought a Spanish plated car, but did not live here. Spain was, in fact, in contravention of the EU Directive on this subject.

New Effective Law from 9th September 2004: -

Please note that the Law has yet to be amended in Spain, but the judgement handed down means that it is virtually effective now, as any fines would be pointless. I have no news of an appeal, which, in my opinion, would be pointless. Please read on.....

Your EU foreign licence, the one with the ring of stars on the front and, for the UK, is of a credit/bank card size, but for all EU countries, it can be the folded card as still at this time used in Spain, is legal to use in Spain (or anywhere in the EU) whether you are a visitor or live here as your principal place of residence (taken out residencia). However, you have to comply with the Laws in Spain where the licence will expire according to Spanish Laws as detailed are in my book, Motoring in Spain, Part 6 - 4. The older pre-EU type licences must still be changed for a Spanish one or an EU one from your home country, if this is still possible. The card has been available in the UK for some time. In Spain, it is expected that they will be issued from 2005.

If you are stopped by an official who attempts to issue you with a denuncia in connection with this subject, you may quote, " Case C-195/02 of the European Court of Justice, decision 9th September 2004". In Spanish: -

La decision del Tribunal de Justicia Europea, numero C-195/02, 9 de Septiembre de 2.004.

COMMENT

Many drivers have been issued with denuncias and heavy fines as high as 450 euros since the date of the case decision which effectively negates the existing Law from the 9th September, and these people are advised to return their denuncia forms to the Traficos in each region, and you will (eventually) be reimbursed with the cash and the denuncia record will be expunged. If you have a problem with this, please advise your nearest British Consular office. All the fines and denuncias prior to the 9th September still stand. Sorry folks.

PROOF OF ADDRESS

The problem of your driving licence not having the correct local address on it has yet to be settled, and we will hopefully know all the answers when the Spanish Law book is changed on this matter. In the UK, the driver is expected to have the form D740 that is sent with the card licence ready to "produce when required". It may be that foreign licence holders will have to register their licences if Spain is their home, and carry a similar form with them in the car. They could carry a D740 as there is space for a change of address on it. We will have to wait and see. The form D740 also has details of any endorsements on it as well, so the local officials will see these, if any.

You may wish to see the letter advising the sentence. It may also be advisable to carry a copy with you in case you get stopped before the official Law is updated in Spain. You can see and copy the letter by
clicking here.

The above, expanded and much more, is contained in the book, MOTORING IN SPAIN, by Brian J Deller. Written in English and published in April 2004, the book has 144 pages with information for visitors as well as anyone who lives in Spain. Included are the road signs in Spain (there are about 4 times as many as the UK), and translations for use at the road side or when visiting the garage, as well as much general info to make your visit or new motoring life in Spain safer and less stressful. It is supported by a web site to update it. The book, ISBN No. 84 607 96175 is available from most English book shops in Spain on the Costas, or from major book shops in the UK, including such as Amazon.co.uk, and through idealspain.com. It is priced at €14,95 or ₤9,95.

More details are at: - www.spainvia.com/motoringinspain.htm

   
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