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DRIVING

How much does it cost to get your driving licence in Spain?

How much money do people sitting their theory and practical tests in Spain spend overall? Does it make a difference if you already know how to drive? Here are the driving learning costs you should be aware of.

A woman and her instructor disinfect their hands before a practical driving class in Ronda in 2020.
How much you end up spending on getting your Spanish driving licence can vary enormously, from a very minimum of €400 all the way up to €1,500. (Photo by JORGE GUERRERO / AFP)

Depending on where you live in Spain, having private transport may be a necessity. Even if it isn’t essential, having your own car can allow you to travel more easily around the country and enjoy a greater level of freedom overall.

So if you have decided you’re going to get your driving licence in Spain, or because you have no other choice but to, you may be wondering how much it’s going to cost you and whether there are price references to look out. 

According to a 2020 study by Compare the Market, Spain is the 9th most expensive country in the world to get a driving licence, only behind wealthy European nations such as Norway, Switzerland, Finland, Sweden or the UK. 

Spain has around 9,000 driving schools, all of which are at freedom to set their own prices for many of their services. There also tends to be considerable cost differences between different regions and cities. 

According to data published in 2021 by Spain’s leading consumer watchdogs OCU and FACUA, the overall expenses of getting your driving licence in Spain are as follows:

Enrolment (Matrícula) 

This registration fee that learner drivers pay when they join a driving school costs an average of €200 in Spain, although again this is subject to big differences between driving schools. Some autoescuelas are willing to waive the fee as part of promotions to get more people to join them, whereas other charge considerably more than €200.

Theory classes (Clases teóricas)

The average cost of theory classes for learner drivers is €203. For this you can attend in-person classes at the driving school and receive the theory book and similar learning materials, which only cost around €13. 

The Spanish DGT traffic authority in 2022 authorised driving schools to offer these theory classes exclusively online if they prefer, and there is no minimum number of classes learners must take before sitting their theory.

Physical examination (Examen psicotécnico)

Before you can get behind the wheel of a car, you’ll need to do this hands-on test which measures your physical, psychological, reflex, sensory and motor skills. In practice, it’s not as complicated as it sounds, you’ll just have to do some hand-eye coordination tests, vision and hearing tests, see a doctor and get your blood pressure measured. 

These physical examinations are usually carried out at health centres called “centros de reconocimiento de conductores” and cost €30 to €35, although again prices may vary. 

Practical lessons (Clases prácticas)

Having lessons in the car with a driving instructor is what learner drivers in Spain usually end up spending the most on. On average it costs €25 per practical lesson, which usually lasts 45 minutes. 

There is no minimum number of lessons learners have to do before they can sit their practical driving test, but if you’re starting from zero it could be as many as 35, which adds up to €750.

For foreign drivers who already know how to drive but have to sit their driving exam in Spain because their licence isn’t recognised by the DGT, the minimum number of recommended lessons is usually five. 

Even though this represents €125, it’s important to keep in mind that you may have picked up bad driving habits that examiners will fail you for, as well as the fact that driving in Spain has isn’t own idiosyncrasies, so it is advisable that you have a few practical lessons. 

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driving licence cost spain

Driving schools in Spain waive some fees whereas others try to squeeze as many as possible out of learners. Photo: Orkun Azap/Unsplash

Examination fees (Tasas de tráfico)

This is the money that you have to pay the DGT to sit your exam. It’s a fee that’s gone up slightly in 2022 and now costs €94.05. 

You get two extra chances to pass between the theory and the practical exams, so if you pass your theory test the first time round you have two goes at passing your practical, but if you fail your first theory exam you only get one go at the practical. 

If these two extra chances are used up and you haven’t passed both theory and practical, you have to pay the tasas de tráfico again.

READ ALSO: Can I take my practical driving test in English in Spain?

Driving licence issuance (Expedición de los permisos de circulación)

Believe it or not, you’ll have to pay an extra €99.77 to get your actual credit card-sized Spanish driving licence from the DGT once you pass your driving test.

Admin expenses (Gastos de tramitación)

Some Spanish driving schools charge you for processing your file (whatever that really means), around €45 on average. 

It’s an extra expense that not all autoescuelas charge, some include in the price of the registration and others only require it if the learner has to pay their examination fees again after failing. 

So much does it cost overall to get your driving licence in Spain?

There are lots of different factors that can affect how much a person pays in Spain to get their driving licence, hence why it’s so important to shop around for the driving school which offers you the best deal. 

It can depend on the city, the region, the driving school, their promotions, whether they charge for admin fees but not for theory lessons, or vice versa, and especially how many practical lessons you have and how quickly you pass your driving test.

Therefore, an experienced foreign driver who has only five practical lessons and passes the first time with flying colours could pay as little as €400 total. 

But on the other side of the spectrum, someone who’s learning to drive from scratch, has to sit their exam more than once and is hit with all the possible charges at their driving school or city in Spain could end up coughing up around €1,500. 

It’s certainly a big expense most new drivers in Spain should keep in mind. 

Owning a car in Spain is also getting more expensive. On January 1st 2022, Spain’s Registration Tax increased, making 40 percent of new vehicles 5 percent more expensive, on average €800 more than in 2021.

READ ALSO: What are the extra costs of owning a car in Spain?

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MONEY

Rampant branch closures and job cuts help Spain’s banks post huge earnings

Spain’s biggest banks this week reported huge profits in 2021 and cheered their return to recovery post-Covid, but ruthless cost-cutting in the form of thousands of layoffs, hundreds of branch closures and the removal of many ATMs have left customers in Spain suffering, in this latest example of ‘Capitalismo 2.0’. 

A man withdraws cash from a Santander branch in Madrid.
More than 3,500 Santander workers lost their jobs in Spain in 2021 and a further 2,000 more employees working for Santander across Europe were also laid off. Photo: PHILIPPE DESMAZES / AFP

Spanish banking giant Santander on Wednesday said it has bounced back from the pandemic as it returned to profit last year, beating analyst expectations and exceeding its pre-COVID earnings.

Likewise, Spain’s second-largest bank BBVA said on Thursday that it saw a strong rebound in 2021 following the Covid crisis, tripling its net profits thanks to a recovery in business activity.

It’s a similar story for Unicaja (€137 million profit in 2021), Caixabank (€5.2 billion profit thanks to merge with Bankia), Sabadell (€530 million profit last year), Abanca (€323 million profit) and all of Spain’s other main banks.

This may be promising news for Spain’s banking sector, but their profits have come at a cost for many of their employees and customers. 

In 2021, 19,000 bank employees lost their jobs, almost all through state-approved ERE layoffs, meant for companies struggling financially.

BBVA employees protest against layoffs in May 2021 in Madrid. Spain’s second-largest bank BBVA is looking to shed 3,800 jobs, affecting 16 percent of its staff, in a move denounced by unions as “scandalous”. (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP)

Around 11 percent of bank branches in Spain have also been closed down in 2021 as part of Spanish banks’ attempts to cut costs, even though they’ve agreed to pay just under €5 billion in compensation.

Rampant branch closures have in turn resulted in 2,200 ATMs being removed since the Covid-19 pandemic began, even though the use of cajeros automáticos went up by 20 percent in 2021.

There are now 48,300 ATMs in Spain, levels not seen since 2001.

READ MORE:

Apart from losses caused by the coronavirus crisis, Spain’s financial institutions have justified the lay-offs, branch closures and ATM removals under the premise that there was already a shift to online banking taking place among customers. 

But the problem has been around for longer in a country with stark population differences between the cities and so-called ‘Empty Spain’, with rural communities and elderly people bearing the brunt of it. 

 

Caixabank laid off almost 6,500 workers in the first sixth months of 2021. Photo: ANDER GILLENEA/AFP

Just this month, a 78-year-old Valencian man has than collected 400,000+ signatures in an online petition calling for Spanish banks to offer face-to-face customer service that’s “humane” to elderly people, spurring the Bank of Spain and even Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez to publicly say they would address the problem.

READ MORE: ‘I’m old, not stupid’ – How one Spanish senior is demanding face-to-face bank service

It’s worth noting that between 2008 and 2019, Spain had the highest number of branch closures and bank job cuts in Europe, with 48 percent of its branches shuttered compared with a bloc-wide average of 31 percent.

Below is more detailed information on how Santander and BBVA, Spain’s two biggest banks, have reported their huge profits in 2021.

Santander

Driven by a strong performance in the United States and Britain, the bank booked a net profit of €8.1 billion in 2021, close to a 12-year high. 

It was a huge improvement from 2020 when the pandemic hit and the bank suffered a net loss of €8.7 billion after it was forced to write down the value of several of its branches, particularly in the UK. It was also higher than 2019, when the bank posted a net profit of €6.5 billion.

Analysts from FactSet were expecting profits of €7.9 billion. 

“Our 2021 results demonstrate once again the value of our scale and presence across both developed and developing markets, with attributable profit 25 per cent higher than pre-COVID levels in 2019,” said chief executive Ana Botin in a statement.

Net banking income, the equivalent to turnover, also increased, reaching €33.4 billion, compared to €31.9 billion in 2020. This dynamic was made possible by a strong increase in customer numbers, with the group now counting almost 153 million customers worldwide. 

“We have added five million new customers in the last 12 months alone,” said Botin.

Santander performed particularly well in Europe and North America, with profits doubling in constant euros compared to 2020. In the UK, where Santander has a strong presence, current profit even “quadrupled” over the same period to €1.6 billion.

Last year’s net loss was the first in Banco Santander’s history, after having to revise downwards the value of several of its subsidiaries, notably in the UK, because of COVID.

The banking giant, which cut nearly 3,500 jobs at the end of 2020, in September announced an interim shareholder payout of €1.7 billion for its 2021 results. “In the coming weeks, we will announce additional compensation linked to the 2021 results,” it said.

BBVA

The group, which mainly operates in Spain but also in Latin America, Mexico and Turkey, posted profits of €4.65 billion ($5.25 billion), up from €1.3 billion a year earlier.

The result, which followed a solid fourth quarter with profits of €1.34 billion, was higher than expected, with FactSet analysts expecting a figure of €4.32 billion .

Excluding non-recurring items, such as the outcome of a restructuring plan launched last year, it generated profits of 5.07 billion euros in what was the highest figure “in 10 years”, the bank said in a statement.

In 2020, the Spanish bank saw its net profit tumble 63 percent as a result of asset depreciation and provisions taken against an increase in bad loans due to the economic fallout of the virus crisis.

“The economic recovery over the past year has brought with it a marked upturn in banking activity, mainly in the loan portfolio,” the bank explained, pointing to a reduction of the provisions put in place because of Covid.

In 2021, BBVA added a “record” 8.7 million new customers, largely due to the growth of its online activities. It now has 81.7 million customers worldwide.

The group’s net interest margins also rose 6.1 percent year-on-year to €14.7 billion, said the bank, which is undergoing a cost-cutting drive.

So far, it has axed 2,935 jobs and closed down 480 branches as the banking sector undergoes increasing digitalisation and fewer and fewer transactions are carried out over the counter.

At the end of 2020, BBVA sold its US unit to PNC Financial Services for nearly 10 billion euros and decided to reinvest some of the funds in the Turkish market.

In November, it launched a bid to take full control of its Turkish lending subsidiary Garanti, offering €2.25 billion ($2.6 billion) to buy the 50.15 percent stake it does not yet own.

The deal should be finalised in the first quarter of 2022.

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