Driving legally in Spain

Or the new law on driving licences in Spain...

The subject has been on the menu for dinner conversations in the city, sat the exit of schools or Facebook groups. BCN Plug&Play is happy to remove uncertainties and fears and can help you if you wish.

Here is a series of questions & answers to make it simple and practical.

  • Is this really a local initiative limited to Spain?

Immediately, the first myth must be dispelled: it is the application of an European directive (European directive n°2006/126/EC) which aims to unify the 110 different coexisting permits on the territory of the European Union.

The objective is to improve road safety by limiting the period of validity of permits for European nationals.

  • In concrete terms, what does it consist of?

As soon as their permit has an indefinite duration (in particular the French, Belgian or German permit) or a duration of more than 15 years, any national of a Member State of the Union and a country acceding to the European Economic Area must proceed with the "renovacion" of their permit under a Spanish European version (credit card format) at the end of the 2-year period after obtaining their NIE. Sometimes we also talk about "canje" (old term on the forms meaning exchange).

An exception: the national is exempt if he or she has registered (o "sello") his or her permit before 19 January 2015. This registration is valid for 10 years from the date of the DGT stamping. Registration is an approach that no longer exists since 19 January 2015.

  • What is the particularity of Spanish law?

It limits the validity of the permit to 10 years when France has chosen the maximum renewal limit provided for in the Directive, which is 15 years. The "renovated" Spanish permit obtained is therefore valid for 10 years throughout Europe.

Also the renewal is subject to a medical examination (whereas in France it is a renewal for the moment, administrative).

  • Any examples?

1 - The holder of a Community driving licence with an indefinite period of validity who obtained legal residence in Spain on 19/01/2015 must have renewed his licence as from 19/01/2017.

2 - The holder of a Community driving licence valid for 15 years in 2013 and legally resident in Spain since 18/06/2014 must renew his driving licence from 2028.

  • Does this apply to all permits?

Yes, this is valid for all permits (A1, A2, B...) with specificities for professional permits.

  • Nationals of which countries?

This concerns the permits of the Member States of the European Union and also of the EEA Acceding Countries, i. e:

Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom

  • What about my international permit?

Now it is no longer valid if it is attached to your initial permit. It will therefore be necessary to make a new request to the DGT, a procedure separate from the renovación procedure.

  • I want to keep my license. What am I risking?

You risk €500 in fines. It must be noted that the law is applied differently between the mossos and the guardia urbana. In any case, by 2033, no permits valid for more than 15 years will remain on European territory.

  • If I move to another country, do I have to change my licence again?

The permit resulting from the Spanish renovación procedure is valid for 10 years on European territory. At the end of the validity date, it will have to be renewed according to the conditions of the Member State of residence.

  • Can I avoid doing this renewal by reporting a loss or theft?

No, because you must now necessarily redo your permit in the country of residence. If you do so in your country of origin, you will be subject to the same mandatory approach since 2013 throughout Europe.

  • Where should this be done?

It will be done with the DGT (Dirección general de tráfico) of the province where you live.



You totally delegate the process and we ensure the process with the DGT: making appointments, checking papers, copies, travelling

You don't have to travel. 


For more information:



What is the purpose of the NIE?

You have just arrived to settle in Spain and you think that your identity card from your country of origin is enough?  Error!!!!!

All foreigners, whether European Union nationals or not, must obtain the NIE (Identification Number of Foreigners) if they reside in Spain for more than three months. This concerns employees but also spouses, children, pensioners, interns,...

In concrete terms, what does it consist of?

First of all, because this number allows them to identify themselves, as would our identity card in France. But it is also essential for many processes.

  • to open a bank account,
  • to find rental accommodation,
  • to buy a property or a car,
  • to install internet or get a phone line,
  • to enroll your children in public school,
  • to contract a mutual insurance company,
  • to pay taxes,
  • to open a business or develop an entrepreneurial activity...
  • but also, to rent a Bicing (bicycles at your disposal),
  • to apply for the large family card which will offer you many advantages,
  • to get an insurance for your child during a school trip,
  • to get special discounts for residents....

As you understand, obtaining the NIE is the first step to take.

Depending on the situation (for example, you are not yet a resident or your situation has not stabilized), you can first apply for a temporary ENI to be renewed after 3 months, which will allow you to start the first administrative procedures and confirm them with a permanent ENI.

In the end, it is a small card on green paper that will often be asked of you... Above all, good luck with the rest of the steps because it is only just beginning!

Barcelona Plug&Play could help you for every situation about your NIE : https://expatconcierge.net/en/services-solutions/get-a-nie/

A “padrón”: Why do we do it?

On the long road to administrative procedures, you will often be asked for a "certificado de empadronamiento" (not easy to pronounce in addition!) which is also called "padrón". 

This is simply the mandatory registration in the city's residence register, which is done at your local Town Hall. This could be the equivalent of an active census process on the part of the inhabitants.

Concretely a padrón, what is it for?

From the beginning, you will need it to register for Social Security and get your Health Assistance card.

But also to update your driver's license, to regularize a residence permit, to register your children in school, to vote in elections, to register as unemployed, to change your vehicle registration.

You can also get a special resident fare for public transport, some visits to monuments (free of charge such as Parc Guell and Château Montjuic with Gaudir Més, with very interesting discounts for Casa Batlo, la Pedrera...).

Above all, it is the legal proof of the date of your residence in Barcelona that can be very useful in the event of a legal need, or an application for social or municipal assistance. In addition to its administrative usefulness, the "padrón" allows important reductions at the town hall, such as registration for multi-sport centres or cultural activities in your neighbourhood. As soon as you have proof of your residence (rental contract, certificate of ownership or certificate of residence of a third party), quickly request registration at the Padrón Municipal, which will be requested and useful on many occasions!

And if you don't have the time, don't want to, call on your favourite administrative concierge service: Barcelona Plug&Play at your service!