Becoming Spanish: the driver’s license – Part I

We rented a car to drive to Granada and Cordoba. Aside from alley-walkways that are supposed to be streets and REALLY tight parking garages, we had no issues.

Until we were just outside Albacete on our way home, when we were stopped by the Guardia in a random stop-and-search. Todd got breathalyzed. We were told that since we had residency cards, we were in violation by driving with a Texas driver’s license – we should have an EU license. Much conferring between the officers, then we were told there would be a 500-euro fine – only 250 if we paid within 20 days. More conferring, then a call from headquarters let them know that we had 6 months from the date of the residency to change the driver’s license. Muchas gracias, senor. Please drive safely.

When Todd returned the rent car, he asked the clerk. She pointed him around the corner to the traffic office, so we went the next day to check it out. In typical Spanish fashion, the office upstairs that seemed to be the office we needed sent us downstairs, where we waited in the no-cita line (we had tried to book a cita online, but the function wouldn’t work) for information. The gentleman sent us upstairs. When we told him we had started there, he shrugged and pointed upstairs. Back up the stairs we trudged. The gentleman there had us wait in the lobby while he found someone who could speak English. She told us to use an auto escuela; they would arrange everything for us.

So, we went online in search of info. Our favorite ad for an English-speaking driving school: We speak English. Lessons in Spanish.

  • What we’ve pieced together from sites, blogs, and our Spanish friends, is this:
  • The theory test costs 90 Euros. It is available in English translation, but it’s bad translation and leads to errors. You have to score 27 out of 30 to pass. You can take it multiple times.
  • You have to have a health certificate (20 Euros) before you can do practical training.
  • You of course have to have your residency card and 4 passport photos to get the license.
  • All training has to be done through a school. Cost is minimum 25 Euros a lesson. Not sure how many lessons are required.
  • Final practical is 55 minutes of driving – one source said 25 minutes. Not sure of cost of this. Not sure if you can have multiple tries.
  • If you test with an automatic transmission, you are only licensed to drive an automatic transmission.

No wonder the Guardia kept emphasizing that we had 6 months from date of residency (now 3 months) to get it done!

 

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