BRITISH expat Mike Sedgwick shared his personal experience of taking the Spanish driving test after finding himself among the thousands of Brits left unable to drive legally in Spain due to delays in striking a post-Brexit bilateral deal on driving licence recognition.

“I couldn’t wait for the bureaucracy to be agreed on driving licence exchange (as we still don’t know when and if it will happen) so I took the plunge and did my theory test leading to the practical,” he explained.

The 63-year old who moved from the Midlands to a town in Cadiz province, successfully went through the entire process and agreed to provide a step by step account for Olive Press readers thinking about doing the same thing.

The Spanish driving test entails taking a theory test followed by a practical.

spainish driving test. Photo: Photo by Circula Seguro/Flickr
It’s essential to sign up to a Spainish driving school. Photo by Circula Seguro/Flickr

First up he registered with a local driving school and for around €150 he was given an online manual (in English) and access to the test system plus an extra €40 for a medical test, which is required along with proof of legal residency to register on the DGT database.

“It took me about 4 weeks to study (and study hard) to get the exam and pass. Exam cost was about €100 and I had to travel to the test centre to do it,” he said.

“The DGT exam hall was a good experience overall BUT was full to capacity, so in summer it could be even worse.”

He reports that it can be difficult to find availability for the theory test but that driving schools book up slots in advance so it helps to go through them.

Once he passed the theory test Mike signed up for a lesson with the driving school so they could “assess” his driving abilities.

Mike Sedgewick back on L plates decades after passing his test in Britain.

“The instructor decided to put me in for the first available slot at DGT, which was around three weeks later. I opted to book five lessons to help me with gears (I normally drive an automatic car) and to understand the key driving terms in Spanish,” he explained, adding that in the end he got by with around 20 words and phrases.

“The lessons cost €30 an hour and were done with two others in the car so the sessions were about 3 hours long, and took in different towns, roads, etc.” The shared classes gave the opportunity of learning from each other as well as being accustomed to the Spanish phrases needed to understand the examiner during the test.

But he admits: “At the end of each session I was drained and tired.”

driving Photo: Andre Luis Alves Campos Unsplash
Photo: Andre Luis Alves Campos Unsplash

When it came to the driving test itself (which cost €82 including use of the driving school car), Mike’s regular instructor explained to the examiner that he was a foreigner but could ‘respond to commands’ in Spanish.

“We are talking about basic driving terms such as Derecha, Izquierda, Al Frente, estacionamento, marcha attras, primera salida, segunda salida, etc, and the examiner was compliant, obliging and clear in commands!”

However, Mike failed his first test and was put in for a second attempt two weeks later and after two more lessons (which cost a further €150)

“And I passed, yeahhh!” he said.

Mike Sedgwick Car 1
And he passed!

Mike calculates that the entire ordeal cost around €600 and was completed in around ten weeks although he has heard that the driving school suddenly got very busy with summer students and waiting lists for tests have lengthened. 

“It was nerve wracking and difficult being a foreigner,” Mike admitted.

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