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A Spanish driving licence (licencia de conducción) is the standard EU model: a plastic, credit card-sized permit with photograph. Older licences are laminated pink cards with a photograph of the holder.
Applicants for a Spanish driving permit or licence must be resident in Spain. Applications must be made at the Provincial Traffic Headquarters (Jefatura de Tráfico) of the province of residence.
Driving schools play a significant part in the process and are able to take care of making the application and submitting the documents for driver's exams. It is important to seek their advice before setting out to take a Spanish driving exam. In some places the exam may be taken in English: contact a driving school for further information.
There are two parts to the test, one theoretical and one practical. Both must be passed for a driver to be considered competent.
Training for the theory test can be done with a driving school which provides numerous sample exam papers (some driving schools have English translations of the highway code and exam questions available).
Spanish theory test questions and exam reviews are available from website TodoTest. A user must be registered to use the site.
A set number of hours of training must be completed with a driving school. The practical test is taken in Spanish and a translator may accompany the person being examined. Some areas have English-speaking driving examiners - enquire if this is possible when first making an application to take the test.
The practical test is taken in a driving school (dual control) car and the driving instructor accompanies the examiner and person being tested. The examiner gives instructions in Spanish (or English if it's been arranged in advance) to the driving student.
A licence must be renewed at the Provincial Traffic Headquarters (Jefatura Provincial de Tráfico) of the holder's province of residence before its validity lapses. If the address on the licence is current, the licence holder should receive a letter advising them of the renewal date (aviso de caducidad del permiso o licencia de conduccion). Application may be made in person or by post. When applying by post, it is advisable to keep copies of all the documents sent.
The licence will need regular renewal; a standard Spanish driving licence for a private car or bike is valid for ten years when the holder is under 65 years of age, and every five years from the age of 65 on. Different conditions apply for passenger bus and heavy duty vehicle licences. Residents of Spain who hold a non-Spanish EU/EEA licence must renew their driving licence according to Spanish renewal periods.
Spain monitors a driver's traffic offences with a points system. A diving licence starts with a credit of 12 points in the case of experienced drivers, and 8 during a new driver's first three years of driving. Two extra points are awarded for three years without offences, to a maximum of 15 points in total.
A person caught speeding (for example) loses three points from their licence. If a driver loses all 12 points, the driving licence is withdrawn for a year, and once the year is up, the driver takes a special test and a course, as well as the usual theoretical and practical driving tests in order to be given a new licence.
The police have the authority to remove a driver's licence instantly if the offence is considered serious. Fines may also be imposed.
If a licence is lost, damaged or stolen, or an address changes, the Provincial Road Traffic authority will issue a replacement licence. The replacement licence is issued free of charge in the event of change of address.