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Permission to Drive

Permission to Drive

Eeek! We no longer have UK driving licences, and I, for one, feel rather naked and vulnerable without mine. In its place, for the time being, we have two bits of rubber-stamped paper which will work in Spain but nowhere else. So, we live in hope that we won’t have to make any unexpected journeys back to the UK for the next month.

Our Spanish driving licences are the last pieces of our official documentation jigsaw. With the imminent threat of Brexit hanging over the expat community, there has been a great deal of online chatter about the importance of exchanging UK driving licences for Spanish ones to prevent the possible future need of retaking a driving test. As we have lived here for over two years now, it had become legally essential for us to get our driving licences in order.

Our lawyer had sent us a reminder a few months ago, and this issue was high on our list of priorities. Our lawyer would have been happy to have made the application for us but it would have cost us rather a tidy sum, so we decided that we felt confident enough to go it alone. We had a rough idea what we needed to do, but admin of any sort, either here or in the UK, always fills me full of horror.

So, our little guide for this bit of admin, although the processes may change depending on where you live! In Granada, it has been relatively straightforward.

Firstly, you need to fill in the Application From to change your licence from a UK one to a Spanish one:

If you are unsure about what to complete, fill in the primary information (Names etc), print it out and the staff at Trafico will help with the rest.

Documentation you need, original and with a photocopy of each one of the first 4 documents:

  • Passport

  • UK Driving Licence

  • Residencia Card

  • Empadronamiento

  • Passport-sized photograph

  • Certificado Médico Oficial

  • UK National Insurance number

Outside the DGT offices, where you need to apply, you will undoubtedly find photocopy shops who will copy documents and take photos, and they will know exactly what the documents are for. You will probably also find a psicotécnico (see below); there is certainly one outside the DGT in Granada.

We also discovered, today, that it is very useful to have your UK National Insurance number as the staff at Trafico can do an immediate search for your licence information on the website and print off the information they need. They can still process the application without your NI number, but it may take a little longer, apparently.

In the above list of documents, you will also see mentioned the Certificado Médico.

As we have lived here for over 2 years, we needed a medical certificate. Assuming we just popped along to our GP, this is what we duly did, but he kindly informed us that we needed to go to a Psicotécnico - the official provider of medical certificates for driving licences. Fortunately, there was a psicotécnico just down the road from our GP’s surgery in Pinos Puente, and our GP called ahead to make an appointment on our behalf.

Visiting the psicotécnico was more of a hoot than a stress. As we had an appointment, we just turned up on Monday afternoon and went to reception where we were met by a rather glamorous optician. We were both given short forms to fill in and then whisked through to see if we could see letters on a sign. If you are a spectacle wearer, you will be told that you will need to have a spare pair of glasses in your vehicle at all times, but we both wore our contact lenses and this passed muster.

We were then ushered into the medical office where we were asked about any known medical conditions, medication we may be taking - routine stuff. Our mugshots were taken and the doctor started to chat to us about the apartment he had in Torremolinos, apropos of nothing. Knowing that we are a married couple, he possibly assumed that we may well be interested in using said apartment for weekends of partying in the gay mecca of the Costa del Sol…..

During our chat, the glamorous optician came sauntering in and sat behind us on a desk, crossing her legs. I had flashbacks of scenes from ‘Carry On Doctor’.

There was a bit of computer faffing, as the doctor had no connection to the central traffic office, so the full documentation couldn’t be sent through at that moment in time. However, we got our certificates and duly paper-clipped everything together ready for our appointment at the Trafico office. The charge for this medical service was 25€ each and it was pointed out that, had we been to a psicotécnico in Granada city it would have cost 40€ per head; bargain! Jests aside, the staff were extremely helpful, clear and friendly and the appointment could not have been any easier.

Make an appointment to visit the Trafico office. This can be done online or in the office local to you. For the Granada office, the website link is For us in Granada, the lead time for an appointment is around 2 weeks, although I see from some social media chats that, on the coast, waiting times for appointments can be a lot longer.

When you arrive at the office, there is a check-in console - input your NIE number and you will get a ticket showing your turn on the system. In fairness, today’s procedure was as seamless as it could have been. We didn’t have to wait that long, and people are churned through pretty swiftly.

Provided you have the correct documentation (see above) the process takes no more than 10 minutes. 

So, here we are - no UK Driving Licence (as that is retained by the Trafico office) and a piece of paper that temporarily covers our driving here in Spain. In about a month, we should receive our brand new Spanish driving licences and away we’ll go! If, for any reason, our licences go astray, I suppose we could always purchase a donkey.

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