Spanish Driver’s License


Over the last few months, the Honey Bee has embarked upon a quest to obtain her Spanish driver’s license (carnet de conducir). While on the surface the process seems pretty standard-take a theory exam, take a driving exam, and you’re done, it is much more complicated. Let me take a moment here to digress and express our frustration.

Let’s start at the beginning-the entire process comes at a large cost in terms of both time and money. We’re talking anything upwards of € 700 by the time you’re done. It’s not uncommon for new drivers to even spend up to € 2,500. Compare this to the less than US$ 20 it costs in the US or the INR 1,000 it costs in India, and you realize the insanity of it all.

In order to register for the exam, you need a medical certificate issued by a clinic. The “clinic” is a euphemism for any charlatan that charges € 40-50 to conduct a lackadaisical eye exam and an old school type video game exam that consists of you moving two levers, each representing a steering wheel, to keep 2 virtual cars running between their lines. Anyway, we were finally done with it and she registered.

In any other country, the theoretical exam is pretty straightforward. Not so in Spain. Here, obscure questions like what is the maximum permissible speed for a 6 wheeled vehicle weighing over 3,583.72 kgs while the driver has a BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) of 0.139 driving on a toll road in his underwear after eating a tortilla and arguing with his spouse are not uncommon. I kid of course, but questions do tend to be highly convoluted (think SAT or GMAT) and horribly translated (if you’re unfortunate enough to be taking the test in English).

Back to the topic at hand, after putting in hours and hours of study time and doing tens of hundreds of practice exams, she finally took the exam last week, and passed. Every small victory in such a system deserves celebration, and we did.

Next step, we signed her up for the obligatory and expensive driving lessons. I’ll get back to you with more on that next time…