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Exchanging Your UK Driving Licence
Monday, 18 May 2009

Written by Bob Lloyd 

This is our experience of exchanging our UK driving licences for the Spanish version at Trafico in Cadiz. We found the procedure easy but as normal in Spain you do need to be prepared with lots of bits of paper.

Go to Trafico (opposite Varela car park) See Trafico location in Google maps here

Get the two A5 forms from the enquiry desk. Fill them in with your names and address and NIE number and sign them. Then take them over to the counter through to the right. You'll need to pay 26 Euros and they stamp your forms.

Next take them upstairs (after picking up a numbered ticket - there's a queuing system even if it looks anarchic) and you'll see behind the counter two desks, one labelled examenes and the other Canjes (un canje means an exchange). Over the desk will be an illuminated number and when it's your turn, go to the desk.

You WILL need:

  • A passport photo - get a genuine one rather than trying to print it out yourself to save a few pennies!
  • Your passport plus a photocopy. Make sure it's the same size as the original. They might reject it if it's a scan that turns out to fill a page...
  • Your licence (card and counterfoil) plus a photocopy of both sides of the card, and a photocopy of the counterfoil.
  • Your NIE - plus photocopy. They ask to see the original.Some proof of your residence - your residencia (original) and a photocopy. They'll ask to see the original.
  • The empadronamiento - plus photocopy. They ask to see the original.
  • A phone number which they say they will call.

Once they have all that, the process takes about two minutes.

They stamp the two forms, give you back everything except the photocopies and back sheets. So you get back your plastic licence and counterfoil together with a receipt. This acts as your authorisation while you continue driving with an invalid licence.

You are asked to come back in three weeks, although they told us they'd call to let us know when it comes in. Others have told us they don't call...

You WILL need some Spanish phrases so you can explain why you're there. Grunting and waving doesn't work, and nor do isolated single words

Por favor, necesito cambiar mi permiso de conducir de inglés al español. [Please, I need to change my driving licence from English to Spanish]

Puedo obtener las formas aquí, por favor? [Can I obtain the forms here please?]

Cuándo estará listo, por favor? [When will it be ready please?]

This is something reasonably easy to do and it's well worth doing it rather than risk fines. And it's actually a bit of fun, if you're in need of practising your Spanish. Anyone who tells you can get by with a couple of hundred Spanish words is probably kidding you so it's worthwhile having a bash now and again and learn a few new words each time.

Part Two

We finally got a call from Trafico telling us our licences were ready to pick up. We went along, waited in a queue for 2 hours only to be told they weren't there... It seemed suspiciously as though they couldn't find them but they issued us with a temporary permit to drive which lasts for three months, assuring us that our licences will be sent to the house. But... he also explained that IF they don't arrive, we have to come back. The catch of course is that if you wait until the temporary one expires and then the real one doesn't turn up, you have NO LICENCE...They kept our UK licences which are now no longer valid so that left us in a sort of limbo.

We found out that these temporary licences are not valid in the UK and as there was a possibility that we may need to go to the UK and hire a car at short notice we decided to go back to Trafico and get it sorted out.
We took two passport photos each with us along with the temporary licences given to us last time and explained the problem (we wrote it out in Spanish just to be on the safe side). They did not know that the temporary licences weren't valid in the UK and couldn't be used to hire cars.
They cancelled the temporary licences and issued us each with a pink licence (22cm x 10cm) which is valid until 2014 and has our stamped photo on it. We were told that when our real licence cards arrive at the house from Seville, we should hand in our pink ones.
We found out the reason why so many people are told their licences are ready only to find that they are not there. Seville calls Trafico in Cádiz to tell them which licences they are sending so Cádiz calls the customers. Then Seville doesn't send them.... Doh!!!! If Cádiz Trafico only called when the licences had actually ARRIVED, then everyone would be saved hassle. Once you've turned up to pick up your non-existent licence, they issue you with a temporary one and tell Seville to send it to your house instead...


If you turn up to pick up your licence and it isn't there, DON'T HAND OVER YOUR UK LICENCE UNLESS THEY GIVE YOU A PINK PERMISO DE CONDUCCIÓN or you won't be able to use it in the UK and you'll need a passport photo to get one.

Now we have the pink one, we might just keep it until it expires.

Bob Lloyd



# Maureen Moran 2010-03-13 12:43 Having followed the extremely helpful advice given by Bob Lloyd about changing licences from UK to Spanish (the girl on the Canje desk was most impressed that we had everything she asked for!), we came to a stumbling block when we arrived in Trafico following a phone call from them to say the new licences were ready.

As in Bob's experience, we were told they were not there but they should arrive by post to our house within about 15 days. We were given temporary permits - white cards which last only three months.
Armed with the info from Bob's story, I stated that I planned to go to the UK next month and needed one of the pink temporary licences that would be valid for car hire in the UK. She opened her drawer where there was a pile of these rose-coloured must-haves, held one up to show us and then stated that, due to new regulations brought in during early December, they can no longer issue them. When I protested, she very kindly double-checked the position but, alas, they are no more!! The poor girl was trying to be helpful, bless her, but it didn't fill me with much confidence when she told me to phone the day before my date of travel if the new licence hadn't arrived, and she would order another from Madrid … Hmmmm.
# Maureen Moran 2010-03-13 12:44 Our Spanish licences have now arrived through the post (it took about a month) so all is well.
# Tim Adams 2012-01-25 15:44 Bob, your advise was priceless! My wife and I just went through the procedure yesterday without hitches, a first for us in Spain. As you advise, we had all the documents ready (originals & copies)and we were seen and processed in about 25 minutes, the very helpful lady even tried her best to speak English to us although we did manage to speak Spanish to her also. So, we just wait for our phone call call in about three weeks…

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