The exchange is voluntary but the local police prefer you to do it if you plan on being in the Canaries longer than six months. You can still keep your UK one as long as you do it online and have a digital passport (one with a chip on it) as well as a UK address.
You will need to speak Spanish at the DGT (Direccion General de Trafico) office, and also to get your medical done. If you can’t, then take someone with you who can or hire a translator. Don’t expect them to speak English.
Where to Go
Go to the DGT office, which is near the Fuente Luminoso in Las Palmas. Go to window 18 and ask for a ‘solicitud de canje del permiso de conduccion’ form. Fill it out, then go to window 15 and pay about 26 euros.
They will stamp the form to show you have paid and they will give you a number. Go and sit down and keep an eye on the screen for your number to come up.
It will say on the screen which window you need to go to. You will need your passport and a copy of it, your NIE (or residencia) and a copy of that, your driving licence and a copy of that, as well as some passport photos.
They will take your copies and forms to say you have submitted the forms and they give you the originals back. Keep the form and your licence.
What to Do Next
Expect a call or email from the DGT, asking you to return with the photos and your medical, within a couple of weeks. They will contact the British DVLA (driver and vehicle licensing agency) and check there isn’t anything outstanding, and then the new Spanish licence can be issued.
Take your medical forms when you go back, as well as your passport photos and the form you completed on the first visit and got stamped.
Where to Get the Medical
You will need to ask for the ‘reconocimientos de conductores’ medical which involves blood pressure, height, weight, a simple eye test and some basic coordination exercises, as well as a short chat with a psychologist. Expect it to cost around 55 euros.
You can get more information at the http://www.dgt.es/portal/ website, which is the equivalent of Spain’s DVLA.