Exchanging your UK driving licence – all you need to know

Exchanging your UK driving licence - all you need to know

On Tuesday, 14th March 2023, the Spanish Government signed off on the agreement to allow the exchange of UK driving licences without taking a driving test. For all those UK driving licence holders who have been “grounded” since May 2022 as well as people planning to move to Spain in the future, this is fantastic news.
You can make the exchange in one of the Spanish traffic authorities offices known as the DGT  or you can use a registered professional to complete the exchange on your behalf.

What documents do you need to prepare? 

Before you can run off to the DGT and make the exchange, there are a few documents you’ll need to prepare beforehand to take with you:

Take your original passport (valid and in date) plus you’ll need a copy of the photo page. 

Proof of residency in Spain
Take the original and a copy of both sides of your TIE card or Green EU residency card. The card must be in date and not expired. 

UK driving licence 
You’ll need to take your  original UK driving licence – you’ll be handing this over, so no harm in making a copy for your records (we have made notes below regarding the validity of licences).

Padron certificate:
You need to get an updated Padron certificate for everyone applying to exchange a licence. You can find out how to do this HERE. Remember the Padron certificate has a validity of 90 days when used as proof of address at the DGT. 

Medical certificate: 
This is a “Certificado de aptitud psicofísica” – Medical Certificate specifically for a driving licence exchange/application.
You’ll need to make an appointment and visit a recognised medical centre (not all medical centres can produce the relevant certificates). You can find a full list
HERE and be sure to tell the Medical Centre which categories you want to include on the licence exchange. The medical certificate has a validity of 90 days. 

You’ll need photos for your lovely shiny new licence, and we have published information on how to get these HERE

DVLA verification code:
This is a code issued by the UK DVLA proving the validity of your UK licence and you’ll need your UK National Insurance number.
To get your code you’ll need to go online and visit  HERE (licences issued in England, Wales or Scotland) or HERE for licence holders from Northern Ireland.
Licences issued in Gibraltar (DVDL) don’t need a verification code. 

What’s the process? 

There DGT have updated their information about UK driving licence exchange which you can read HERE

Once you’ve gathered your documentation, you’ll need to book an appointment with the DGT traffic authorities via their website HERE – note Sevilla, Malaga and Almeria provinces require you to have a digital Certificate to book an appointment.

As well as the documents mentioned above, you’ll need to download and complete an application form which you can find HERE

How much does it cost?

You can either pre-pay the taxes using the DGT website HERE or take a credit/debit card with you to pay the fees, which are:

€28.87 (Rate 2.3) for straightforward exchange.
This is the most common and will cover the car and motorcycle categories.  

€94.05 (Rate 2.1) for categories that require additional testing.

Once you have completed your appointment, if everything is correct the DGT will keep your UK licence, and you will be issued with a temporary Spanish licence. 

Who can exchange their licence? 

Already resident in Spain:
If you have a valid UK driving licence (current or expired) and are resident in Spain, then you had 6 months from 16th March 2023 to make the exchange. If you missed this deadline, then you can still exchange but can’t legally drive in Spain with your UK licence.

Moving to Spain in the future with a UK licence:
You will have 6 months from the date of entry to exchange your UK licence for a Spanish licence. You will still be able to exchange after the 6 months, but you can’t drive legally in Spain until you have your temporary Spanish licence.
UK driving licence holders do not need to take a Spanish driving test.

Crown Dependencies:
Licences from the Bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey, which make up the Channel Islands, and the Isle of Man will not be exchangeable and holders will need to take a Spanish driving test.

Previously exchanged licences

If you have previously exchanged your UK licence from a country that does not have an agreement with Spain (Australia, for example), you will not be able to exchange this licence. 

UK driving licence expired?
You can’t drive straight away, you need to get your documents processed at the DGT. Once the documents are in process, you’ll be able to drive with the temporary authorisation you’ll be given by the DGT.

Renewed your UK licence AFTER your first entry date into Spain i.e. after becoming a resident in Spain?
Not only should you not drive, but you also may not be able to exchange and must be prepared to take the Spanish driving test if your request to exchange is refused. 

The DGT website states the following:
The exchange will not be possible:
If you obtained your foreign permit while you were already a legal resident in Spain.

That being said, there have been various media reports from around Spain, about people managing to successfully exchange expired licences. So for the time being it seems to be a bit of a lottery! 

How to check the progress of your licence. 

You can check the status of your driving licence exchange once you have completed your appointment using your NIE number and date of Birth HERE. Check out this informative article. 

Hints and Tips!

  • Make sure you arrive at least 15 minutes before your appointment at the DGT
  • Don’t wear glasses or face coverings when taking the photo. We always advise using professional photoshop rather than a kiosk, photobooth etc 
  • Keep a check on the expiry date of the time sensitive documents (the medical certificate and Padron certificate )
  • Remember the temporary document you receive is NOT valid to drive outside of Spain or hire a car
  • Ensure your address is correctly written on the application form as the DGT will post the licence to you
  • If you can’t exchange your licence and need to take a test, the client experiences section in our news feed is where our clients have shared their experiences of how they passed a Spanish driving test – check it out  

Upsticks have teamed up with a trusted service partner to offer an end-to-end UK driving licence exchange service – no need to make appointments or visit the DGT, as the whole process is managed for you. 

If you’d like more information about this complete UK Driving Licence exchange, click the button below!

The information in this article was correct on the date published.
Article last reviewed/updared 09.05.2024

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