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#62451 - 07/30/02 02:53 PM Getting a driverīs license in Spain
Steve-in-Madrid Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/29/02
Posts: 19
Loc: Madrid
Hi everybody,

Iīm an American whoīs been living and working in Madrid for the past year and a half. Iīm just now getting around to the driverīs license deal. Iīm studying the book, etc. and have signed up for classes at my neighborhood auto escuela...but I just wanted to make sure that there were no shortcuts to this. Do I have any other options to get my license??? Does anybody have any tips on this?
I just sucks to have to go through this. Iīve been driving for 16 years and starting from scratch isnīt much fun. Getting home after a long day a work and busting open the driving manual isnīt one of my favorite activities.

Thanks in advance if anyone has any encouraging words on this.

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#62452 - 07/30/02 03:53 PM Re: Getting a driverīs license in Spain
Asterault Offline
Member

Registered: 01/22/01
Posts: 560
Loc: Gijón
Nope... study up!

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#62453 - 07/30/02 04:26 PM Re: Getting a driverīs license in Spain
Los_Toreros Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/23/02
Posts: 8
Loc: Wauseon, Ohio via Madrid
Steve,

Check with the Consulate at the Embassy. I was in the Air Force stationed just outside of Madrid and was able to get a license in 1 day after taking a simple class and test. I know the military might have gotten some special treatment, but it's worth a try.

Good Luck!

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#62454 - 07/31/02 11:12 AM Re: Getting a driverīs license in Spain
CaliBasco Offline
Executive Member

Registered: 10/17/00
Posts: 1530
Loc: Idaho
Hit the books chief! And when you get your license, just forget everything you've learned and practiced and you'll be able to confidently drive like everyone else in Spain!!! laugh laugh laugh
_________________________
Ongi etorri!

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#62455 - 07/31/02 12:27 PM Re: Getting a driverīs license in Spain
MadridMan Offline


Executive Member

Registered: 05/06/00
Posts: 10011
Loc: Madrid, Spain (was Columbus, O...
Along the same lines.... Someone sent me an email yesterday, an "American", saying he was ALREADY living in Madrid and wanted to know how he could get an "International Driver's License".

I wasn't sure and I told him so but mentioned that it might have been better to have gotten one from AAA (American Automobile Association) before going to Spain, which would be good for an entire year and maybe when/if he returned for a visit to the USA to get a new one for another year. I told him that the Spanish "officials" wouldn't likely accept his "state-of-whatever" drivers license as official since they wouldn't likely have ever seen one before and could have been false.

Can someone, a non EU, get an international drivers license in Spain??? Anyone know?

Saludos, MadridMan
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#62456 - 07/31/02 05:36 PM Re: Getting a driverīs license in Spain
Steve-in-Madrid Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/29/02
Posts: 19
Loc: Madrid
Thanks for the reply guys. I guess youīre right, my only option is to study up. That sucks, but oh well...

I just hope that, when I go to take the official test, I donīt get too many of those questions dealing with the motorcycle with "sidecar" or the nuances of the "turismo" with "remolque" for Godīs sake.

Un saludo,

Steve

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#62457 - 08/01/02 01:27 PM Re: Getting a driverīs license in Spain
CaliBasco Offline
Executive Member

Registered: 10/17/00
Posts: 1530
Loc: Idaho
Enjoy driving around with that green "L" on your car for awhile. Remember, we love you and the "L" doesn't stand for "loser".
_________________________
Ongi etorri!

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#62458 - 08/06/02 06:00 PM Re: Getting a driverīs license in Spain
tonytorero Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/05/02
Posts: 19
Loc: Madrid, Spain via Kansas City,...
Quote:
I wasn't sure and I told him so but mentioned that it might have been better to have gotten one from AAA (American Automobile Association) before going to Spain
That advice is better (not to mention less expensive) than going to Autoescuela and subsequently having to tote around one of those disgusting 'L's' on your car...Just in case it's not too late to get your money back.

I've been living and driving in Madrid for 4 years, mailing my International license renewal form to the AAA once a year. They mail the license to my parents and my parents in turn send it to me. Just keep your individual stateside license up to date and you'll be ok with that plan.

As is common in Spain, I've been stopped for site checks by the Guardia Civil 3 times since I've been here and they've never given me a problem with it...Food for thought. wink
_________________________
Tony

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#62459 - 08/07/02 04:11 AM Re: Getting a driverīs license in Spain
Asterault Offline
Member

Registered: 01/22/01
Posts: 560
Loc: Gijón
The wiser route indeed... but do you own a car or have you bought one and with insurance?

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#62460 - 08/07/02 05:48 AM Re: Getting a driverīs license in Spain
tonytorero Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/05/02
Posts: 19
Loc: Madrid, Spain via Kansas City,...
Hey Asterault...It's at this point that I should probably say DUH!!! :o

You're absolutely right. In my case, I'm married to a local and my 'suegros' are in the transportation business, so we benefit from their insurance contacts. It's obviously something, as you can tell by my 'despiste,' that I take for granted.

You tell me, Is there a way that you know of to independently take out an insurance policy if you're driving on an international permit? I'd have to think that it would be possible, but it very well may cost quite a bit more.... confused I'd be interested to hear if someone's done it...
_________________________
Tony

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#62461 - 08/07/02 03:58 PM Re: Getting a driverīs license in Spain
Steve-in-Madrid Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/29/02
Posts: 19
Loc: Madrid
Yeah, thatīs the thing. Unfortunately, I believe the International licens is fine for renting a car, but to actually buy one and get insurance, I think you have to have a local license...

If anyone out there has insurance and the car registered with their international license, please let me know.

Thanks,

Steve

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#62462 - 08/08/02 08:08 AM Re: Getting a driverīs license in Spain
tonytorero Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/05/02
Posts: 19
Loc: Madrid, Spain via Kansas City,...
Hi Steve...I may have been a bit ambiguous with my post, but I meant to actually communicate that I do.... have: 1) an international permit, 2) a car registered under my name, ID card, etc. and 3) an insurance policy with my name. And I do NOT have a Spanish driver's license. I don't believe a car is registered with your license. It's registered under a name and ID number. I imagine a passport would be a possibility as well. (Just think of all the foreigners in the south who don't have Spanish licenses, but drive cars that are registered in Spain.)

The difference in my case in that I fortunately have a bit of an 'enchufe'(contact) for the insurance part of it. That's the one part that I'm unsure of for you: "How easy or difficult as well as expensive would it be for you to take out an insurance policy with an international permit on your own?"

It may be worth placing a call or two to a local automotive insurer inquiring as to the feasibility of what you want to do... If you get an answer, let us know. Good luck...
_________________________
Tony

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#62463 - 08/12/02 02:20 PM Re: Getting a driverīs license in Spain
Steve-in-Madrid Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/29/02
Posts: 19
Loc: Madrid
Thanks for clearing that up Tony.

Iīm definitely going to call a couple of insurance companies to find out and Iīll post the information that I get!

Steve

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#62464 - 08/12/02 03:14 PM Re: Getting a driverīs license in Spain
Steve-in-Madrid Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/29/02
Posts: 19
Loc: Madrid
Tony,

Before making the calls to insurance companies, I did some more online research. All of which seems to say the same:

Driving in Spain
Drivers licence
Non-Residents can drive in spain on a foreign driving license for a maximum of 6 months in the calendar year.

EU residents can drive on their existing EU license until it runs outs. When it does run out you must apply for a Spanish driving licence. Non-EU residents must obtain a Spanish driving license after one year

So, I donīt know. Even if you have the international license, it appears that once youīre a resident (which I am and I assume you are)for more than a year, you need to get a Spanish license. I suppose that you or anyone can get away with what youīre doing (and believe me I want to do it too!!!), but I wonder:

What happens if, God forbid, youīre in a serious accident that is your fault. Would there be legal implications for someone that is sort of skating around the rules?

I donīt mean to be "pesado" with this because, as I said, Iīm tempted to try to do it too.

What do you think?

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#62465 - 08/16/02 06:19 AM Re: Getting a driverīs license in Spain
Chica Offline
Executive Member

Registered: 12/19/01
Posts: 821
Loc: Madrid
Hey guys...Iīm surprised that Asterault hasnīt posted any wisecracks about my L and driving 80 kmph.

Steve, hereīs the low down since I have recently been through the process. I was in your situation (17 yrs driving experience...had to learn stick shift here, etc) but got my license within 3 months passing both exams on the first try.

1. Americans can drive here with an international license. The international license is good for a year.

2. If you are an American citizen with legal residency in Spain (without an enchufe...lucky you Tony) you have 6 months from the date of your residency being issued to get your carnet de conducir. And your international license becomes null and void.

3. Up until recently you had to get your carnet through the backing of an autoescuela. You can opt to take the written test in English and/or can enter the examination room with a dictionary if necessary. However, itīs difficult to find the books in English (at least my autoescuela didnīt have them). I did it all in Spanish. I have heard that you can take the test on your own (without the backing of an autoescuela), but I have not verified that.

4. Each test costs about 60 Euros, plus the cost of autoescuela and taxes. You can fail the written, I believe, 2x before having to reregister with your autoescuela for more classes. On the written, there are 40 questions, you must score at least 36 correct to pass (I scored 39 on the first try laugh ).

5. You can take the driving part of the test on the next scheduled date after passing your written test (you canīt take both on the same day). You are tested 2 and 2 for the driving test, meaning two students are tested at a time. The first student gets behind the wheel and the driving school instructor in the front passenger side. The examiner and second student ride in the back. The examiner, generally very cut and dry (at least mine was...not friendly at all, no smile no have a nice day nada de nada), will put you through the paces. Tell you where to go what to do etc. No 3-point turns, but there are parallel parking, circles, highway merges, etc. One student takes the car out, the other student brings the car back.

6. Shortcuts? Hmmm...I think I exhausted the idea trying to find some. Had no luck. If you have luck with shortcuts, be sure to post them so others can benefit!

7. Helpful sites: Todo Test is a great website where you register for free and can take practice tests on the various subject matters as well as try some of the official tests. The site even charts your progress and walks you through your most common errors. Site is all in Spanish. Dirección General de Tráfico is also a great resource to answer some of your questions regarding insurance and rules of the road. I believe there are also practice tests on that site and itīs available in English.

8. Helpful hints: Given to me, passing them on to you -- in your autoescuela book, make sure you know the speed limits and signs. They will certainly be on the test. Know all the charts well, understand the distancia de frenado, etc. Know the legal alcohol levels (different than the states!) and pay attention to the small print under the pictures and charts. Also, if you have a car to use, go to Mostoles on the weekends to the centro de examinación (donīt enter), wait for the cars with the blue L practicas to come out (these are the unfortunate souls taking their exams) and follow their routes. You will see first hand what you have to do.

9. Once you pass your exams and get the lovely pink tri-fold carnet with your pic stapled to it, you will have to purchase a green "L" to stick in your back window for a year (costs about 9 euros and you get it from your autoescuela). This lovely green badge of courage enables you to travel at a maximum of 80 kmph and invites all experienced drivers to treat you like dirt, tailgate you, cut you off, flash their lights at you and in general make your driving life miserable. My autoescuela instructor told me that the L, while required, really only plays importance in the case of accidents where you may be at fault. Generally the Guardia Civil donīt follow you down the highway to make sure you are only going 80kmph. Ahhh here I have an enchufe Tony! A friend told me he would currar any speeding ticket I get. Hee hee. :p

Quote:
What happens if, God forbid, youīre in a serious accident that is your fault. Would there be legal implications for someone that is sort of skating around the rules?

I think the answer to that question is fairly obvious. If you are in an accident where itīs your fault and you have been skating around the rules... your insurance company (given that you have it) will not pay for damages and you will be legally responsible for all expenses. I suppose there are some things (particularly with the way some Spaniards drive and knowing that I spend a good percentage of my driving time on highways) that I do not want to risk. Steve, my recommendation? Go through the process. Itīs a hassle, but in the end I think you will be glad that you did!

Good luck!

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#62466 - 08/19/02 06:52 AM Re: Getting a driverīs license in Spain
Steve-in-Madrid Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/29/02
Posts: 19
Loc: Madrid
Thanks Chica for that great posting. The information is very complete and covers all the essentials.

Iīm finished looking for short cuts. Iīm with an autoescuela and Iīm studying for the examen. I hope to take the written test in early September and the driving test a few weeks later.

I donīt really have much interest/need to take the exam in English unless, for some reason, it were easier. Iīm a little wary also of a mediocre translation that could even make matters worse- especially if youīve done all the studying in Spanish.

Question- are the tests on www.todotest.com and the web page of the dgt more or less on the same level of difficulty as the tests that youīll take on "game day?" I ask because Iīm doing pretty well on those tests but Iīm apuntado to another web site ( www.tuautoescuela.net ) and the tests are extremely difficult- more more so than the above-mentioned.

Thanks again for the information.

Steve

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#62467 - 08/27/02 12:46 PM Re: Getting a driverīs license in Spain
Chica Offline
Executive Member

Registered: 12/19/01
Posts: 821
Loc: Madrid
Hi Steve --

Sorry itīs taken me so long to get back to you. There are two kinds of tests on the TODOTEST site.

The first grouping of tests are designed to test your DEPTH of knowledge on each examen area (signage, distances, weights, first aid, general mechanics of the car, etc). I have found these tests to be very very thorough and therefore, difficult.

The second grouping of tests (los tests oficiales) are actual tests that have been given on GAME DAY. These essentially cover a BREADTH of knowledge. I found these tests to be much easier.

Many have said that the actual test on the day of the exam is much easier than the practice tests given in the autoescuelas and the first grouping of tests at TODOTEST.com. Of course the reason for that is that the autoescuela has the responsibility to thoroughly prepare you for driving, not just impart enough knowledge to pass the written test. As you can imagine, the test that you get on GAME DAY can be hit or miss, you can get one where you know all the answers, because it was the material that you studied...or you could get one where there are 5 questions that you donīt know (which would really suck) and all of them had to do with the permitted speeds on the kinds of roads according to the weights of the vehicle and whether or not itīs towing a remolque. All I can say is study up! wink

Quote:
I donīt really have much interest/need to take the exam in English unless, for some reason, it were easier. Iīm a little wary also of a mediocre translation that could even make matters worse- especially if youīve done all the studying in Spanish.
Those are the exact reasons why I went the Spanish route as well. Once you get past the pedantic language and the technical vocabulary, itīs relatively easy.

Good luck!

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#62468 - 08/28/02 03:29 PM Re: Getting a driverīs license in Spain
Steve-in-Madrid Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/29/02
Posts: 19
Loc: Madrid
Thanks Chica.

I plan on taking the written test in September so Iīll let you know how it goes.

Steve

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#62469 - 08/30/02 06:28 PM Re: Getting a driverīs license in Spain
Chica Offline
Executive Member

Registered: 12/19/01
Posts: 821
Loc: Madrid
Steve and Asterault --
Something you might want to consider to keep your insurance rates low...once you get your license here, you are considered (for the second time in your life) a novice drive. Along with that comes higher than standard insurance rates.

My insurance company (La Mutua) told me that they would consider reducing my rates if I could prove having been a licensed driver for over 5 years. So right now I am in the process of requesting a certified copy of my driverīs license from PennDOT and having the Apostille seal put on it. Once I get the documentation back, Iīll take it to the insurance co. to see what they can do for me....something that you guys might want to consider!

smile

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#62470 - 08/31/02 05:16 AM Re: Getting a driverīs license in Spain
Steve-in-Madrid Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/29/02
Posts: 19
Loc: Madrid
Chica,

That was going to be another one of my questions: what to do about insurance.

One of my clients was Direct Seguros and last year, while chatting with their Sales Director, I inquired about this. He told me that, just as youīve said, I would be considered a novice driver and therefore subject to higher rates.

Thatīs very interesting what youīve said about the Mutua and presenting documentation. Please keep us informed on how that goes and if youīre able to get the lower rate.

By the way, how much are you currently paying and with what type of coverage?

Steve

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