MUST ALL EU RESIDENTS EXCHANGE THEIR LICENCES FOR SPANISH AFTER 2 YEARS OF RESIDENCY?
The headlines of several online publications, quoting a press release from the DGT/Trafico website, certainly suggest so, but reading the next few lines of the press release, confusion sets in. We cross checked with the relevant Spanish Reglamento and European Directive, read publications that quote high ranking DGT officials, and found quite a few inconsistencies.
Here is our interpretation of the European Directive.
This is what the Spanish Reglamento de Conductores states.
Only in the case that the medical gives reason to restrict or adapt the licence in any way, the holder will have to exchange his licence for a Spanish (canje de oficio).
Foreign residents with licences with no expiration date, so indefinite, need to renew (renovar) their licence after 2 years of residency. They will receive a new, Spanish licence with validity periods for the categories, corresponding with the above mentioned. For these resident this would mean that they will have to register their licence when they become resident, incur costs for medical to do so and after 2 years, need to start the process again, this time to renew (renovar) their licence.
As the Reglamento does not provide a concrete ´window´ during which residents that hold an indefinite licence can comply with this obligation to renew (renovar) their licence, we would advise to start the process well before the 2 years of residency are up, to prevent fines, which could be incurred as soon as day 1 of third year of Residency.
An article in a Murcia publication has an example of one of the DGT official’s ” incorrect interpretation” of the law, so therefore not surprising that fines were issued in some regions. It is of great concern also that due to misguided interpretation of the law, you will find that most of the DGT offices are registering licences without telling residents that they should take a medical and, inform them of change in validity period of CD category. ’Centros de Reconocimiento de Conductores’ (medical centres specialising in tests for driving licences) are also not informed.
Summary of the DGT/Trafico press release:
I In our opinion, the above-mentioned: ‘Compulsory registration of the foreign residents driving licences’ cannot be enforced. Spain had insisted that this was to be complied with in the past, but they were forced to revoke by European Court.
II The Spanish Reglamento does not back up the press release by DGT/Trafico and their statement that certain licences need to be exchanged after 2 years of residency. Only indefinite licences need to switch to Spanish licence by process of renewing (renovar) after 2 years of residency. The European Directive could be interpreted to give this option, (see above) but the Spanish Reglamento has not included it, therefore it is not law in Spain.
III Spanish authorities should insist on a correction by DGT/Trafico before expats fall victim to this incorrect and confusing interpretation.
IV CAB Spain will seek legal advice on the possibilities to denounce DGT/Trafico the minute we receive notice that an expat been affected by the recent announcement by Trafico.
CAB Spain is not advising any of the readers that they should not exchange (canje) or renew (renovar) their UK valid licences for a Spanish version. We are merely providing facts based on the law.
For a complete picture of this issue as it developed all through 2015, please read our OTHER ARTICLES on this subject as well.
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