If you want to have the freedom to drive around the roads when on holiday or living in Spain, then there’s no doubt that the question on your lips will be: “do I need an international driver’s license in Spain?”. Well, first off, it’s highly likely that your driver’s license is perfectly valid in Spain. This article is simply meant to clarify whether you need to make a quick trip to your Provincial Traffic Headquarters (and gain even more experience with Spanish bureaucracy), or if you’re good to go.
Firstly, all licenses from countries of the European Union are valid, as well as ones from countries of the EEA (Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway). However, it’s important to note that all EU/EEA citizens living in Spain for over two years must obtain a Spanish license.
Do I need an international driver's license in Spain? See the conditions for valid licensesYou will be able to drive with your normal license and not an international driver's license if you meet the following conditions:
- Licenses issued in the countries specified in Annex 9 of the Geneva Convention, or Annex 6 of the Austria Convention, or which are different to these licenses only in non-essential elements. The non-European Union countries of said annex are: Afghanistan, Albania, Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Burma, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, Liberia, Mexico, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, Syria, Thailand, Jordan, Turkey, Ukraine, South Africa, United States of America, Uruguay, Venezuela, and Yemen.
- National licenses issued in Spanish or accompanied by an official translation.
- Licenses issued in other countries that may have an international agreement with the government of Spain.
The conditions under which these licenses are valid are:
- The license is not expired
- The holder has the minimum age to drive in Spain (18 years old)
- The driver has not been a resident in Spain for longer than 6 months
After 6 months of residing in Spain, you still might be wondering, “do I need an international driver’s license in Spain?”, so it’s important to know that citizens are required to exchange their license for a valid Spanish license. Citizens must exchange their foreign license at the Provincial Traffic Headquarters. For those citizens whose countries don’t have an agreement with Spain regarding the exchange of licenses, they will have to take a theoretical and practical test and join a driving school.
Be careful! Driving around with a license that is not valid and/or should have been exchanged can be punished with a fine of up to 500€!
Already have your licence? Ready, set, go enjoy it with the best road trips in Spain:
It’s time to hit the road! Take a look at our list of 5 beautiful routes in Spain that you can explore with friends and family:
- The northern section of the Costa Brava offers stunning Roman and Greek ruins. Follow the coastline north until you reach the former house of Salvador Dalí, located just outside of the gorgeous town of Cadaqués. This popular route is known as the Alt Empordà.
- Just an hour outside the capital of Madrid, you’ll discover the huge, ornate monastery of Felipe II called El Escorial. Continue driving and get transported back to medieval times in Ávila, one of the most well-preserved walled cities in Spain.
- Valencia is a Spanish province where sun and sand meet, creating the perfect spot for those looking to enjoy a little peace and quiet. Explore this rich region through a 55km, rural inland route stretching from Calpe to Alcoy.
- For those who love the snow and the sensation of being out in the wilderness, consider the Vielha to Esterri d’Aneau route. It is 42km road trip through the Bonaigua Pass and ending at the impressive Pyrenees mountain range. Marvellous and mountainous!
- In the Basque Country, start your road trip in San Sebastian and let yourself get lost in all the Basque traditions and culture. If you’re traveling in February, head to Tolosa to take part in the town’s popular and lively carnival.
- Live the island life in colourful Ibiza! You can explore the whole island by car, while stopping at different points along the coastline to catch ferries to the surrounding islands. Discover our Ibiza guide!
If you're European or American and need to switch your license to a Spanish one, read our free guide below to learn how: