British ExPats Association (Spain)

Driving licences issued by Members States of the EU

Your Rights and Obligations

This web site page has been included, so as to clear up the considerable confusion that that exists amongst E.U. Citizens.

Exceptions: -

Article 1 (3) of Directive 91/439/EEC establishes an exception to this general principle of mutual recognition. It is noted that - Where the holder of a valid national driving licence takes up normal residence in a Member State, other than that which issued the licence, the host Member State may apply to the holder of the licence its national rules on the period of validity of the licence, medical checks and tax arrangements and may enter on the licence’ any information indispensable for Administration.

With regard to the period of validity’ of driving licences. ‘Directive’ 91/439/EEC, therefore allows Member States to apply their national provisions. (An example of this would be where you are age 41 years of age and possess a U. K. licence, which would be valid in the U. K. for another 29 years, whereas in fact Spain does apply her own laws of validity. A further example can be drawn from the old grey coloured German licence, which was issued for life. This licence as well is a valid drivers licence, although its period of validity has now been reduced. These These periods of validity vary from State-to-State.

This means that a shorter period of validity can be applied to the Licence holder, in the event of taking up residence in another Member State, such as Spain.

With regard to the interval between medical examination, this to has, not as yet been harmonised by EU legislation. In most Member States, this coincides with the period of validity.

Driving licences issued by a non-member country and recognised by a Member State, are not recognised reciprocally in a systematic manner, even where the licence has been exchanged for a Community model meanwhile. It is therefore advisable to contact the competent national authorities. Member States are not obliged to recognise driving licences issued to persons under the age of 18 years.

Important announcement

There are proposals before the European Union of 8th April 2004 for certain changes in the legislation. These proposals include: -

However, the EU has not as yet approved these proposals. And it may be some time before they come into effect, if at all. We will not deal in further detail with these proposals until they indeed become law, when we shall up-date our web site

So as to reflect any changes.

To read the full text of this proposed Directive click here

Be aware

There are a number of web sites publishing inaccurate information with regard to that which represents a valid driving licence within the European Union. Our information comes to you direct from European legislation.

The current legislation provides that unless you become a resident in another Member State, the licence issued to you by the competent State, shall be deemed to be valid in another Member State although controlled by the legislation of the Member State where it was issued.

Remember that once you become resident for, example of Spain who apply their rules of validity, your driving licence, although issued in another Member State, must comply with the validity period applied to Spanish driving licences.

Having regard to the control over the validity of driving licences issued by another Member State and the rights of each Member State enshrined in EU. Legislation you will be required to produce your driving licence for the proper purposes of monitoring its validity, once you become resident. At present you are not required to exchange it until the expiry date, as stipulated under Spanish Law.

We advise you to consult the JEFATURA PROVINCIAL DE TRAFFICO for the area of the Province in which you reside. The address for Alicante is: - 5 Juan Bosco 12. Tel:: 96 512 0229 / 96 512 0227 or 96 512 5355.

Periods of Validity in Spain

Ages Period of validity

Finally you will be required to have a medical when seeking to renew your driving licence. There will be a ‘Special’ centre for this purpose, usually close to your place of residence.

Driving licences will not be harmonised within Europe until the earliest, year 2011.
This information was obtained directly from the E.U. Commission of Transport and Energy.