For UK passport holders resident in Spain, one of the main consequences of the UK leaving the European Union is that they can’t simply exchange UK driving licences for a Spanish licence any more.
As the end of the Transition Period approached, it was clear that there wouldn’t be enough time for all UK licence holders resident (or about to become resident) in Spain to make this exchange so the DGT (Spanish Traffic Office – Direccion General de Trafico) set up a bespoke process, enabling drivers to “register their intention to exchange” and allowing a 6-month window to complete the process.
Whether you registered to exchange your licence in person at the DGT or used a professional, you will have been given a document, allowing you to drive during the registration period. When you receive this official DGT temporary licence, it means your new licence is now on its way.
Exchanging your UK licence for a Spanish licence – the process:
Step 1: Registration of your file with the DGT
Once the documents have been registered with the DGT, they will check with the DVLA that the licence is fit to be exchanged, (i.e. it hasn’t been revoked, it’s the last licence issued etc). If there are any issues, then the DGT will let the applicant know.
Step 2: Approval for manufacture
Once the licence has been approved, the DGT sends the order to the Fábrica Nacional de Moneda y Timbre (FNMT) for manufacture.
Step 3: Printed and Despatched
Once the licence is manufactured, it’s sent to Correos (Spanish postal service) and despatched to the address provided at the time of registration.
Good news – You can check the progress of your driving licence online
Once your exchange application has been submitted, you can check how things are progressing on the DGT website by clicking here.
Enter your NIE number and date of birth then hit the ‘buscar’ button – you will see one of the following 4 messages:
– Lo sentimos, pero no tenemos información sobre el estado de tramitación de este permiso de conducir
“We’re sorry, but we don’t have any information about the progress of this driving licence”
This message is what you normally see in the early stages of your application, while the DGT is still processing and digitizing your information
– Su permiso está en trámite en la DGT
“Your licence is in progress with the DGT”
This means that your information has been processed and your licence is at the verification stage.
– Su permiso está en fabricación desde el **/02/2021
“Your licence was sent for manufacture on xxxx date”
It’s good news if you see this message – your licence has been approved and is in production.
– Su permiso se ha enviado a Correos el día **/02/2020
“Your licence was sent to Correos on xxxx date”
Your licence has been printed and sent to Correos on xxx date – all being well, you should receive it within 15 working days at your postal address.
FAQ’s and Good to Know
The key point is that neither the DGT or the person who registers the licence on your behalf, are responsible for any problems with receiving mail at the address given.
Can you drive while your licence is being processed?
Yes – whether you registered to exchange your licence in person or used a professional, you will have been given a document/receipt/email, allowing you to drive during the registration period.
IMPORTANT: The process can take a while and although you have a piece of paper which allows you to drive in Spain, this may not be valid to drive in other countries or to rent a vehicle. Make sure you take this into account if you have plans to travel outside Spain.
How long will it take for the licence to come through?
With Brexit causing an avalanche of new licence exchanges, there is a backlog, and it really is almost impossible to predict how long it will take for the new licence to arrive
My licence has been despatched via Correos, but I haven’t received it.
This is not unusual and if you live in an apartment block, it’s often the case that your licence has been put in the wrong post box, so check with your neighbours and similar numbers.
Another common situation is that the licence has been sent back to the DGT, so check with the DGT office where it was initially registered.
Unfortunately, the DGT does not accept any other address than the one on your Padron certificate and that is where your licence will be sent.
Still not received your licence?
Once you see that the licence has been posted out, you effectively have a Spanish licence and if the police were to do a spot check, they should be able to identify your licence details using your NIE number.
Request a duplicate and arrange to collect from the DGT office
Ultimately if the licence has gone completely missing, you will be able to order a duplicate, which the DGT should retain for you. Alternatively, you can contact the professional who registered the licence for you and they will be able to get one. You can use the same system explained above to track the process of the duplicate licence. There is normally a fee for this.
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