Driving licence renewal: methods, costs and deadlines

What is a driver's license renewal?

If you're among the young people reading this and you have no idea what a driver's license renewal is, we've all been there. A driver's license, like many other documents, has a time limit after which it is no longer valid. To get it back, you have to go through the renewal procedure.

With the renewal procedure, the state makes sure that the driver is still fit to drive cars safely for himself and for other road users. A bit like the inspection checks the safety of a vehicle, the licence renewal checks the safety of the driver.

To obtain a licence renewal, the driver must undergo a medical examination to assess the driver's physical and psychological fitness for licence renewal. Visual abilities and the presence of pathologies that could cause difficulties or dangers while driving (such as epilepsy or sleep apnea) are checked.

What types of licenses can be renewed?

One of the key factors to know when renewing a driver's license is the type of license in question. In addition to the age of the driver, the type of driving license affects the expiration date, given the different types of vehicles that can be driven with each license.

So let's look at the types of licenses to remember when renewing your driver's license:

  • LicenseA - this type of license is also called A3 license and allows the driving of all motorcycles and tricycles with engine capacities higher than those allowed with the common car license (the B). This type includes AM, A1, A2 and A driving licences.
  • B license - is the typical car license that many people get at the age of 18. This category also includes B1 and B3 licenses.
  • C license - the license also known as a truck license, which allows the driver to drive cars for transporting things beyond the limits of the B license. This category also includes C1, C1E and CE licenses.
  • The D license - is the license required to drive buses, coaches and trolleybuses; virtually all vehicles used for transporting large numbers of people. The types of licenses included in this category are D1, D1E and DE.
  • Special licence - there are also a number of licences defined as "special" for driving complex vehicles with special features, such as mine excavators. This category includes AMS, A1S, A25, AS, B1S, BS, C1S, CS, D1S and DS licences.

When do I need to renew my driving licence?

As mentioned above, driving licences have an expiry date which depends on the age of the driver and the type of licence they have. As a general rule of thumb, the younger you are, the longer your driving licence will last. Similarly, "personal use" licenses such as A and B have much longer terms than "commercial" C and D licenses.

So, we look at the specifics of when to renew a driver's license based on the terms of each type:

Renewal of a license

  • Every 10 years (up to 50 years of age)
  • Every 5 years (between 50 and 70 years of age)
  • every 3 years (between 70 and 80 years of age)
  • Every 2 years (after 80 years of age)

B License Renewal

  • Every 10 years (up to 50 years of age)
  • Every 5 years (between 50 and 70 years of age)
  • Every 3 years (between 70 and 80 years of age)
  • Every 2 years (after 80 years of age)

Renewal of C license

  • Every 5 years (up to 65 years of age)
  • Every 2 years (after 65 years of age)
  • Renewal is impossible (after 68 years of age)

Renewal of license D

  • Every 5 years (up to 60 years of age)
  • Every 2 years (after the age of 60)
  • Renewal is impossible (after 68 years of age)

Renewal of special licenses AMS, A1S, A25, AS, B1S and BS

  • Every 5 years (up to 70 years of age)
  • Every 3 years (between 70 and 80 years of age)
  • Every 2 years (after the age of 80 years)

Renewal of C1S and CS special license

  • Every 5 years (up to the age of 65 years)
  • Every 2 years (after 65 years of age)

Renewal of D1S and DS Special Patches

  • Every 5 years (up to age 65)
  • Every year (between 65 and 68 years of age, with an annual certificate issued after a specialized examination by the local medical commission)
  • Renewal is impossible (after the age of 68).

Can you renew your licence in advance?

The renewal of the driving licence can be applied for as early as four months before the expiry of the driving licence.

In this way it is possible to schedule visits and look for documents calmly without having to remain with an expired driving licence and therefore not being able to drive.

How can I renew my driving licence?

The procedure to renew the license is quite simple, you just have to be accurate with the required documentation and you can have the new license in less than a week. The first step to make the license renewal is to make these two payments through a post office (where among other things you can find the pre-filled bulletins):

  • The first deposit is € 10,20 in the account 9001 of the Department of Land Transport;
  • The second payment is 16 euros for stamp duty to account C7C 4028.

Once these two invoices have been paid, a medical examination must be carried out at a health centre, at the driving school, by a military doctor or at the ASL. You must bring these documents with you for the examination:

  • identity card, passport or other identity document (except driving license).
  • driver's license
  • health card
  • receipts of the two bills paid by mail
  • two passport size photos
  • documentation concerning medical pathologies and/or glasses and lenses for regular use.

If the medical examination is positive and confirms the psychophysical aptitude for driving, the doctor will issue a provisional document valid for 60 days. This document replaces the driving licence and allows you to drive without any problems while the new driving licence is being drawn up and sent to the address indicated by the driver. We remind you that this document is not valid abroad but only in Spain, so we limit the movements and avoid making the renewal just before leaving the national borders.

What happens if my driving licence has expired more than 3 years ago?

We hope that you will never find yourself with a driving licence that has expired more than three years ago. In this case, in fact, in order to renew your driving licence, it will be compulsory to repeat the theory and practical driving test.

This measure is designed to prevent people who, regardless of their driving ability, have not touched a car for years and do not know the latest rules of the Highway Code from returning to the road.

What are the differences between renewing and reviewing a driving licence?

So far we have only talked about license renewal, but there is also the procedure for license review. Although the name is very similar we must not get confused: they are two totally different practices and as we will see it would be better never to have to do the license review.

License renewal concerns all drivers and must be done according to the driver's age.

The license review is, instead, a procedure that is initiated in cases where the authorities have doubts about the driver's psychophysical fitness or as soon as all the points on the license are exhausted. Once all the points on the licence have been used up, the theoretical and practical examination of the licence must be repeated.

The license review also involves a mandatory medical examination in the following cases:

  • Driving while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs and narcotics.
  • Offences leading to the suspension of a minor's driving licence
  • Driving accident with serious injury to persons
  • The driver who has suffered such an accident lasting more than 48 hours.

Compared to cases where the license is reviewed, license renewal seems to be a pleasure.

What is the cost of renewing an expired license?

The cost of renewing your license depends on where you choose to go for the procedure. The basic documentation costs about 33 euros between stamps, motoring fees and sending the new card.

To these must be added the cost of the medical examination which varies between 60 and 90 euros depending on the health centre you choose.

In the case of a licence that has been expired for more than 3 years, to the normal costs of renewing the licence must be added the costs of taking the practical and theory test again. Without these it will be impossible to get your driving licence back.

How long does it take to renew my license?

Once the medical examination has been carried out, it normally takes 3 to 4 days to receive the new driving licence at home.

In fact, it is up to the doctor or certifying body to electronically inform the ministerial structure of the driver's suitability to renew the license. As written above, the new driving licence is sent by insured mail at a cost of 6.86 euros to the address indicated by the driver.

What to do if the driving licence has not arrived at home?

If you are wondering what to do if you have not received your driving licence, don't worry, we have the solution for you. The Ministry rarely makes mistakes but, given the thousands of licences that are renewed every day, it can happen that the licence arrives late or in the worst case it is lost.

If more than 15 days have passed since the day of the positive medical examination, then you should contact one of these two numbers:

  1. Ministry of Transport toll free number 800232323 - available from 8:30am to 2:00pm and 2:30pm to 5:00pm Monday to Friday, accessible from landlines and mobiles.
  2. The toll free number for Correos Españoles is00979416 - this number is accessible 7 days a week at any time from a landline only. The service of this number is "Printing and delivery of licenses and registration books".

What documents are required for license renewal?

As already explained, the driver's license is renewed after paying bills by mail and getting a positive result on the average visit. The documents required throughout the process are:

  • Identity card, passport or other identity document.
  • Driver's license
  • Health card
  • Receipts of the two bills paid by mail
  • Two passport size photos
  • Documentation of medical conditions.

How to renew your ASL license?

The procedure for renewing your license at ASL is exactly the same as at any other health facility, with the exception that you have to book a medical examination well in advance. Because of the savings that can be made, the various ASL sections and offices are often full of applications.

The best thing to do is to find the contacts for your ASL section and ask them directly how you can book. Some offices have a telephone switchboard, while others use email.

How can I renew my license online?

Online license renewal is not yet an option available in Spain because you still have to take the medical exam in person.

However, there are services with which you can book the entire bureaucratic process directly online.

How much does it cost to renew my license for the first time?

The cost to renew your license for the first time is exactly the same as any other renewal. There is no difference as the procedure is the same.

The cost of the first license renewal is about 33 euros between tax stamps, DMV fees and mailing of the card to which must be added the cost of the medical examination, usually about 60-90 euros. Therefore, the total cost should not exceed 130 euros.

What are the penalties for driving with an expired driving license?

There is no point in reminding you that you should never drive with an expired driving licence. There are severe penalties for those who choose to drive with an expired licence.

The fine for driving with an expired driving licence ranges from 155 to 624 euros. However, the highest cost can occur in the event of an accident. If you are involved in a car accident with an expired driving licence, the insurance could pay for damages caused to third parties, but will refuse to pay your damages using the right of recourse.

How to renew a Spanish driving licence abroad?

The Spanish driving license can be easily renewed abroad. Let's look at the procedure for renewing a driving licence abroad in EU and non-EU countries.

  • Renewal of a driving licence in a European Union country - Circular no. 30/99 of 1999 of the Ministry of Transport states that in the event that the holder of a Spanish driving licence has transferred his residence to a member country of the European Union, the licence will be renewed by the authorities of the State in which he currently resides. These authorities are usually the consular offices or the Amabasciate of Spain.
  • Renewal of driving licence ina non-EU country - if you reside in a non-EU country and are registered with AIRE, you should always contact the local Spanish diplomatic authorities to renew your driving licence. In this case, however, the licence must not have expired more than three years ago, otherwise the procedure will be complicated.

How is a driving licence renewed with a change of residence?

In case of change of residence it is not necessary to apply for the renewal of the license or the issuance of a new card. Once you have made the change of residence and have gone to the new municipality for the change of residence or registration, you must fill in the following form.

Once the form is completed, the new municipality of residence will send it to the Ministry of Transportation to update the state records.

After 180 days, a sticker coupon will be sent to the new residence address and applied to the vehicle registration card. This coupon contains, in fact, the indications of the new residence and replaces the obsolete ones.

In the meantime, the municipality will have to issue you with a receipt proving that you have made the change of residence correctly, which you will have to show in case of controls while driving.

How do you check the validity of your driving licence?

The driving licence adopts the points system and, unless an offence is committed, should always be valid. However, only a few minor offences, such as being banned from parking at a bus stop, are enough to block the increase in points on your licence and cause a loss of points, making the points calculation more complicated than expected.

Fortunately, there are a number of ways to check your licence points balance both online and with a simple landline phone.

Our advice is to check your license points at least every two years to avoid unpleasant surprises later on.

What are the visual requirements for driving licence renewal?

The visual requirements for licence renewal are logically the same as for the first issue of the licence. They are defined in the Regulations in Article 119 of the Highway Code. For A and B licences you must have a visual acuityof 10/10.

This value can also be achieved with glasses or contact lenses, but the non-sighted eye cannot have an acuity of less than 2/10. There should not be a difference of more than three dioptres between the two eyes.

Remember that in case the examination is carried out with glasses or contact lenses the license will have an indication "glasses or contact lenses mandatory". In case of control by the police forces, you may incur penalties if you are found without these glasses and contact lenses.

Which pathologies prevent the renewal of a driving licence?

The Highway Code states that a number of diseases are by their nature incompatible with safe driving and therefore prevent the renewal of the driving licence, as well as the first issue in the case of diseases that have been evident since birth.

The list of these diseases is contained in Appendix II - Art. 320 (Disabling diseases) of the Highway Code. Among these diseases are cardiovascular diseases , epilepsy and mental illnesses. Severe diabetes is also on the list.

The diseases are examined on a case-by-case basis by a special medical committee that assesses the severity and driving limitations and determines the driver's driving conditions. Sometimes, instead of banning license renewal, restrictions are included, such as driving in the presence of another adult or a ban on driving at night.

Since October 2017, a derogation measure has been included that allows driving and driving licence renewal for those suffering from blood diseases.

Is it possible to renew a driving licence in case of diabetes?

Drivers suffering from diabetes must undergo a specialized medical examination by a diabetologist in order to obtain the certification of the driving license. In fact, the specialist issues an official certificate establishing the degree of risk for driving. This value is defined according to the presence or absence of severe hypoglycemic episodes, the control of metabolism and the presence or absence of coplications that may cause danger while driving.

Once this certificate has been obtained, the driver with diabetes must go to the local medical commission in charge of the renewal of the driving licence (or to the forensic doctor), who will assess the appropriateness of renewing the licence. The diabetologist does not then decide on the eligibility for a driving licence, but merely gives an expert opinion after assessing the patient's condition. The final judgment always rests with the commission or the medical examiner.

As far as glycosylated haemoglobin is concerned, values below 9% are considered suitable for the renewal of a driving licence. In case the value exceeds 9%, the commission will have to assess the danger on a case-by-case basis.

The possible scenarios for diabetic drivers are as follows:

  • Low driving risk: renewal of the driving licence within normal deadlines.
  • Intermediate driving risk: renewal of the driving licence for a limited number of years and reduced compared to normal.
  • High driving risk: non-renewal.

Is it possible to obtain the renewal of the driving license with sleep apnea?

Another of the pathologies that most afflict Spaniards and that can compromise the renewal of the license is the presence of sleep apnea (OSAS). To make you understand the impact of this disease, it is estimated that about 20% of traffic accidents are caused by sudden sleep apnea.

European legislation is clear and states that it is impossible to renew a license in cases of "severe and incoercible daytime sleepiness, with a marked reduction in the ability to pay attention that is not adequately controlled by the prescribed treatment".

In Spain, the monocratic doctor (also called legal doctor) evaluates the absence of sleep apnea with an anamnestic certificate issued by the ASL doctor in case of first issue and by self-certification in case of renewal. Unfortunately, this type of measure does not take into account the fact that many drivers are not aware that they are affected by sleep apnoea. Therefore, many cases are not identified in time to prevent personal injury and, in the most unfortunate cases, serious traffic accidents.

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