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The Driving Licence Fiasco and Too Many Back Seat Drivers


As we wrote in our article after analysing the DGT/Trafico press release and their interpretation of the relevant European Directive on Driving Licences in the EU. We had serious doubts as to whether something that has been written into the European Directive, giving Spain and all members states the option to apply a clause which could be enforced as law in Spain, due to to fact that the option had not been included in Spain´s national Reglamento para Conductores, this should not have been considered as permissible to be legally enforced here.

The newly announced DGT/Trafico protocol is not based on any new law, it has been prompted by the date at which the European Directive had instructed all individual countries to comply with the new, EU validity periods for all categories of licence/vehicles, and the two years of that Directive coming into being was the 19th of January 2015.

We felt that until we had completed our full investigation, we would post our comments on the DGT/Trafico press release, to this end we have been advising members to literally abide by the DGT/Trafico announcement basically  to avoid fines. We felt it was our responsibility to do this until we could obtain confirmation from trusted legal professionals in relation to our findings. We have carried out exhaustive research ourselves and just last Friday January 22nd the team consulted with the group´s lawyers about the legality of the DGT/Trafico interpretation of the European Directive, insinuating that all holders of European non-Spanish driving licences should renew once they have been residents in Spain for two years.

We can now inform our members that our findings were correct in questioning the legality of the DGT/Trafico announcement. The option for individual members states to oblige foreign residents with licences with validity periods longer than those currently established by the European Directive, to renew their licence after two years of residency, is just what it says, an option. For it to become law Spain should have first included the statement from the European Directive ‘word for word’ in the Spanish Reglamento, and only then; should government agencies be able to legally enforce it. The Spanish Reglamento has only made a special provision for licences without expiry dates, to be renewed for a Spanish permit after two years of residency. So, in compliance with the law ‘All EU licences, with expiry date, should be recognised in Spain and remain valid until expired. This now may not be the case due to the demand from the DGT.

What does this mean in practice? CAB Spain has been advised to denounce Spain before the European Court, to alert them to this latest practice by a government body (DGT) as the Spanish law-makers have not followed the European rules that would have enabled them to legally enforce the demand. Moreover, we intend to denounce DGT/Trafico directly, once a concrete case of a fine, based on this so called ´two year residency rule´ reaches us. We are surprised and concerned at this apparent neglect of the law either due to ignorance or consciously. This includes the misleading and confusing wording of their press release and further information provided on their website.

It will take time to get results though, and DGT/Trafico is not likely to adjust their policy without a firm conviction first. So, meanwhile, although the advice we have been giving since January 2013 about the validity of European driving licences in Spain, still stands, CAB Spain is not advising any readers that they should ignore the recently announced DGT/Trafico protocol for those with two year residency or to not exchange (canje) or renew (renovar) their UK valid licences for a Spanish version.  We can fully understand that comfort and safety in avoiding fines may be preferred over insecurity out of legal principle. But, be it understood the latter two are voluntary processes, as is the registration of your licence with Trafico to get it included in the Registro de Conductores, which we highly recommend, as we always have.

We can imagine that the new DGT/Trafico protocol still leaves members with questions about the need to renew (renovar) their licence as a result of the ´two year resident rule´.  We are willing to continue to assess your personal situation if you request our help with this, by commenting below.

* Please do read the later article on how the DGT had to backtrack but never have admitted the errors made in publishing the two year protocol.

New Instructions DGT Renewal of Driving Licence

Please note: The information provided is based upon our understanding of current legislation. It is not legal advice but is provided freely to enable you to be properly informed. We recommend that if you are considering taking action, you should seek professional advice.

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