SPAIN, a country many of us have come to love, often for its contradictions. Sunny beaches and snowcapped mountains. Friendly waiters, but often abysmally slow service.
But, boy, can those contradictions be infuriating, as we at the Euro Weekly News have come to find out to our cost in what is rapidly becoming the Great Driving Licence Saga.
The question is simple – do holders of UK photo card-style licences have to change them for the Spanish version once they have been resident in Spain for two years, or can they carry on using their British licence until it expires and then renew it?
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As we said, a simple question, but trying to get a simple answer is no easy matter. We have had readers tell us they have been told by their local DGT Trafico department that yes, they must change them. But then visitors to another Trafico department get the opposite answer – no, they do not have to be changed.
After extensive research the Euro Weekly team thought we had the answer, as outlined in our report below. Just to double check, our reporter phoned the Trafico central advice line (again) to get the definitive answer. They told us that the changes only affect holders of old style licences valid for more than 15 years. UK/EU photo-style licences with a validity period of 10 years or less do not have to be changed.
But it would appear, according the Citizens’ Advice Bureau, Spain, that different regional departments are interpreting the rules in differing ways and using ‘incorrect interpretations,’ leading to some people being fined who should not have been. Also, it says, the DGT official notice contradicts the Spanish official Reglamentos (rules) published
It begs the question, if the Euro Weekly News media group, with all its resources, cannot get a definitive answer to a simple question, what chance do our readers have?
We want to hear from you any experiences you have had. Please post your comments below telling us of your licence woes in Spain, or your good experiences with the infamous Trafico department….
– Original article –
THE news that expats in Spain who have lived here for two years or more may have to renew their driving licence has caused some confusion. Here we look further into the matter to try and clarify the issue.
HOLDERS of European Union member states driving licences who have been legally resident in Spain for two years or more may have to renew their driving licences to meet new regulations.
The move, which does not affect people who already have a Spanish driving licence or a UK/EU pink, photo card-style licence, is aimed at those with old-style permits, valid for up to the age of 70. In some countries, like Germany and France, older licences had no expiration date.
The reason is that a January 2013 EU directive allows countries to insist that foreigners resident in a member state have a driving licence with the same validity period as those issued by that state.
In Spain a normal driving licence is valid for 10 years, or five years after the age of 65. The new regulations mean that people from the 28 EU states who are legally resident in Spain must renew any licences they hold that are valid for 15 years or more in the case of Group One (car and motorcycle) category permits, or five years or longer for Group Two (transport and large vehicle) permits.
For recently registered residents, the measure comes into effect two years after the date they became legally resident in Spain.
People who have lived in Spain for more than 183 days a year, or pay income tax in the country, are viewed as being resident in the country. People visiting Spain are unaffected by the changes, as long as they are non-resident.
It is still acceptable to drive on a UK driving licence as long as it is in date and one of the pink, photo card style, with a 10-year expiration date.
There are many UK citizens in Spain who still use their old UK paper licence which was issued up until 1998. That was valid, and remains so in the UK, until the age of 70. But for people legally resident in Spain it is no longer permitted. It must be changed for a pink photo card in Spain or the UK, or drivers face a €200 fine.
According to the British government’s official website www.gov.uk, the DVLA will not renew, change or replace lost or stolen licences if the holder is resident in Spain. Renewal must be done in Spain, effectively converting it into a Spanish licence.
That is a right for all EU citizens, but entails undergoing a medical aptitude test and may also need a certificate of eligibility from the DVLA.
In Spain, to renew or swap a driving licence, the process begins by making an appointment at the nearest traffic authority office, calling 060 or via the DGT traffic authority website www.dgt.es.
Proof of identity (national identity document, NIE or valid passport) and proof of residence and the original driving licence, plus a copy, must be presented at the initial appointment, during which a contact telephone number or email address will be required.
After the authorities make contact, a second appointment will be issued. Before attending this appointment, drivers must undergo an aptitude test at an official drivers’ medical centre, for which a fee is payable.
A recent 32mm by 26mm photograph, official application form and photo-check (both provided by the traffic authority) must be taken to the second appointment, along with proof of payment of the renewal fee of €23.50.
The changes are required under the 2006/126/CE EU guideline and aim to increase road safety and eliminate the more than 110 types of licence valid to drive in EU countries, giving a standard licence to all citizens.