ANOTHER Important update for exchanging your driving licences.
It was reported earlier that this requirement to change your driving license within 6 months of residency is once again not correct, after the last change of Parliament in 2023
Under the new law 09/2021 new residents now have 12 months after residency approval to exchange their driving licenses for Andorran ones if in the list of countries where a simple exchange is allowed. If you cannot in the first 12 months then you have 2 years from approval of residency to take in English, after that it is Catalan only. The Government clarified that the reference to 12 months in the new law is a "guide" to police that they do have the power to fine a resident who has not yet changed their license but at that 12 months the exchange requirement may not be strictly enforced but that remains to be seen, and I have not yet been informed of a new resident being fined as above.
During 2021 and in the past few months the transport Department in Andorra has tightened up the exchange of driving licenses. If they now find that your driving licence has been previously exchanged as many are around Europe and the rest of the world then you will longer be able to exchange your licence in Andorra. Instead you will be required to take the local test and they will also take from you your existing licence.
We have tried to get around that by telling the client to say that they have not had a previous driving licence if they take the driving test here in Andorra from scratch. However they now seem to know that you have a driving licence and you must exchange that driving licence in order to get the Andorra license.
For those people that wanted to keep their old driving licenses they have made this very difficult. However, I have held an Andorra driving license for over 30 years and have never had a problem in any country around the world!
How do I obtain an andorran driving license ?
New residents whether passive or active have one year from the date of entry to Andorra to apply for an Andorran driving license in exchange for their current one from their country of origin if they are from one of the countries listed below. Every applicant MUST first be inscribed at the local Comú in the area where he lives and he will require the following documents:-
1) A completed local application form,
2) A medical certificate from a local doctor, this is easy to obtain.
3) A recent colour passport sized photo, and they no longer accept a machine generated photo, it must be professionally taken.
4) Original and photocopy of both sides of the foreign driving license.
The countries with which Andorra exchanges the license:-
Please note that in addition to Italy and Finland, Denmark and now Ireland has now been added to the list of countries that are NOT on the list and you will need to get a local license as below with our friendly driving instructor.
Germany, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Estonia, France, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Norway, Holland, Poland, Portugal, Czeck Republic, Romania, San Marino, Sweden, Switzerland, Cyprus and UK*.
UK* They will only exchange basic categories, no large motorbikes, HGVs etc. For these you will require local tests.
Be warned however that the Government will now keep your original driving license, they used to print cancelled on it. It is up to you whether you later pursue a replacement from your original country, certainly for France Spain and Portugal they do send the license back. For these countries do not attempt to claim you have lost it to get a new one! The new law says that in all cases for exchange the license will be returned to the issuing country...
My country of driving license is not on that list?
If your country is not on the above list, then further documents (see below) will be required unless you choose to sit a local driving test (See also the update above which applies to those people who have already exchange the driving licence with another country before arriving in Andorra).
The extra documents can be difficult to obtain, and should be requested from the authorities before your move to Andorra, if and only if you are able to get the exact documents from the issuing authority: (Please note they DO accept one certificate if it is a clear authentication AND contains the weight limit for the categories to which the license applies - see below for the Andorra driving test):
- A certificate of authentication issued by the Department responsible for issuing the driving license in the country of issue, and,
- A certificate from the same Department which explains the categories on the driving license, being careful to include the maximum weights permitted under these categories. In a very recent case the foreign license equivalent category A stated the maximum weight as 3,000 KG, the license and certificates although correctly Apostillised and translated were rejected as the weight category did not match the Andorran equivalent of 3,500 KG. This is being rather pedantic but the Transport Department can be difficult if it chooses to be so. Another foreign certificate was rejected because it was issued by another Department which was not the actual license issuing Department in that country. If in doubt please speak to me first before you spend a lot of time and money in an attempt to secure the dreaded documents.
For these documents they often insist on a Catalan translation so the documents will need to go through the official translation process here. Now if the certificate(s) are issued by the same department as which issued the license I am now told that they no longer are required to be Apostillised / Legalised, BUT if they are issued by another authority then they must be Apostillised / Legalised. In any case I will check with the Department on specific cases and documents that can be sent ahead to me.
You will also then be required to take a very basic practical test with a Government examiner, so even if you can obtain the documents requested from the country of issue you still in effect have to take 50% of the test.
So that is why before your move here you should consider whether or not it is even worth to request and obtain those documents from your home country as you are only exempted from the theory part of the exam.
My recommendation is to take the local exam, it is an easier process.
How can I take a local test?
You have two years from the date of your entry to Andorra in which to apply for this test in another language such as in English, failing which after the two years is up you are only allowed to take it in Catalan !!
Passive and active residents can own an Andorran registered vehicle, but to drive it legally you will require an Andorran driving license.
I do have a friendly English speaking driving instructor and you can now access and practise the theory exam online from the comfort of your own living room, so the procedure of "starting from scratch" is not that demanding at all.
A driving test in Andorra is a multiple choice theory exam followed by a practical test normally held on Wednesday mornings. As a new resident here, there is understandably a concern about maybe having to sit an exam after so many years of driving!
The theory side is now more straightforward, the multiple choice format can be accessed and practised online. The practical test is a 10 minute test at their centre. I also recommend just a couple of additional lessons so you do not get caught out by local rules that will ensure you fail!!
It will cost about 370 euros, and the driving instructor will take you through the whole online theory tests and practical at the Government driving test day, the price above even includes the cost of issue of the driving license (Normally about 70 euros)
The final solution is to pay the fine, if you are stopped by the police, which is currently € 60 and they do not take into consideration "previous fines", in other words there is at present no escalator for repeat offences. This option is not the best of course as regulations are always changing and you may get caught out. I have heard whispers that this may be under review (2019).
Considerable savings in sourcing a luxury car around Europe for export to Andorra
Introducing Nick Johnson of Autoprive, a company dedicated to personal service and sourcing high end luxury cars. In essence Nick will do the sourcing and advising and I can look after the import and matriculation to Andorra. Alternatively if you are not a resident or have no interest in Andorra Nick is still available to help you.
"Having sourced premium cars for over fifteen years, Nick has built up an enviable black-book of worldwide contacts to enable him to source the exact car you require no matter where that vehicle may be. If you are in need of inspiration or require investment guidance, his buying experience and market knowledge will prove invaluable. Nick will also take charge of any ownership request so that you can enjoy your vehicle(s) and come sale time he will maximise the value returned to you free of hassle."
If you contact Nick directly please address the email to him and let him know that I referred you so we can work together on the documents for you for the import to Andorra.
When is my ITV test due
In general the ITV test is due after the first 5 years, then after 2 years, 2 years and then every subsequent year. Please note that the first due date is on the right hand side of the yellow card. Any small defect must be renewed by the next test and major defects you have 14 days to rectify and re-present for inspection. You can now book an ITv appointment here, but it is in Catalan.
The ITV inspections appear to have tightened somewhat in their interpretation of the yellow card registered details and those that they find on the vehicle itself. Be warned that any modification, be it colour, tow bars, suspension, engine mofiifications and the like must be registered with Government and if necessary the yellow card must be amended before the ITv.
"Over 65" new residents beware of the new driving license age limit.
Andorra does not allow a person over the age of 65 to sit a local driving test.
This means if you are over 65 and have a valid license that is on the list of countries that can be exchanged then there is no problem.
If you are over 65 and your license has expired OR has been renewed after your residency approval then there are complications. The license can be changed but the process is on a case by case basis and my friendly driving instructor does have those contacts.
Car Imports Warning!
The requirements have recently changed and continue to change, do not attempt this alone!
As from 10/2021 the law for importing cars has undergone major surgery. The bottom line now is that you are no longer able to import a car with Euro 5 emissions standard. The minimum standard now for importing a car is euros 6 emissions and also that the car has been manufactured within the previous five years (six years for a company or commercial import.) Prior to this new law any car with Euro 5 emissions were allowed to be imported and Euro 5 commenced around the year 2010. Euro 6 became mandatory in 2015.
OK, I'm on my way to Andorra...
Please be reminded that the import of cars to Andorra is a 2 stage process: You must ensure before you leave with the car that you have the correct export documents from the country of registration. As each country differs please contact your local authorities and request the correct documentation for exporting a car from that country. You may need these documents for the Andorran border for the import procedure depending on the country of origin.
In the case of new residents they recognise that you are in effect changing your country of domicile and allow a special concession to import cars within the first six months of your residency but that under the new rules must have a EURO 6 emissions certificate and be manufactured no more than 5 years before. IF you can show that you have owned the car(s) for 6 months or more prior to the date of your residency then you will be allowed to import the cars tax free.
You are allowed in your first year as resident here to drive the car (or cars) on the original plates without importing it but you must import it at some time within six months and also remember to exchange your driving license in the same first six months of residency.
The paperwork is quite complicated, however I have imported many cars and can circumvent most problems that you would encounter if you decide to do this alone, and I can complete the process in a day and a half. There is also the requirement for a local inspection to show that the vehicle complies with local regulations. I am able to get a nod in advance from the person in charge if all the documents are sent ahead of the car. Please contact me if I can be of assistance here.
As at January 2019 all cars that have been registered in France or Spain for import into Andorra must have had their registration cancelled before import. Cars registered in other countries can be imported without their registration cancelled but only at the French side, the Spanish insist on a registration cancellation from all countries.
As a general rule all residents can import a car and pay 4.5% import duty and taxes. There is also import available for classic cars over 25 years old. But you must be clear that you must be an approved resident before you can import any car.
In effect if you buy a new car from another country you can arrange for it to be exported and have the tax refunded upon export from the EU (i.e. Andorra). So it is worth pricing vehicles in other countries. Note that the car must be left hand drive. The exception to left hand drive is for classic cars ( see below) which if right hand drive can be imported but only for exhibition and cannot get registered for use on the roads.
If you calculate the cost of purchase outside Andorra after refunding the VAT and then add the local import duties, in many cases you can take advantage of residency to purchase a new car at a great discount.
Importing a car from outside the EU
The EU is not a great fan of allowing cars manufactured outside the EU to be imported. There is an import duty of 10% of the value of the car for import into the EU and a further 4.5% on top if then import it to Andorra.
There are also extra requirements, such as complying with European specifications. For the UK now the country is also deemed to be outside the EU for the purposes of importing cars to Andorra. The UK is now treated as ex EU and in order to import a car from the UK you will be required to pay 10% import duty plus the 4.5% import for Andorra. You will need also EU transit T1 documents together with a EUR 1 certificate of origin
(An EUR1, also known as a 'movement certificate', enables importers in certain countries to import goods at a reduced or nil rate of import duty under trade agreements between the UK and partner countries).
For these reasons importing a car from the UK has been made more prohibitive.
You will need to contact the manufacturer of your car and find out what needs to be adjusted on your car before export and import into the EU. Import of cars to the EU from outside is something to attempt in only the rarest of circumstances. Upon import to the EU there is an EU test and the waiting list can be more than several months and is expensive. There is only ONE testing facility in France !!
If you do wish to proceed to import a car into the EU I do have specialist contacts that can assist in this area.
The low emissions zone was cancelled for judicial and technical reasons but is now back in effect and further law changes come into effect from 1st January 2023.
It is therefore best to regard references to cancellation as postponement. All vehicles already registered with the Government do not need any further process and are valid for the life of the car or unless somebody invents euro 7 emissions.
The Barcelona low emissions zones and restrictions
Barcelona low emission zones are again operational and, if not already done, you must register your Andorra car here in Government in order to avoid possible fines that are policed by number plate recognition. Fines initially are from 100 to 500 Euros with increases for repeat offenders. It is unclear how such fines would be applied to Andorran registered cars but nevertheless registration is advised.
The new zones for low emissions for vehicles cover the whole areas of the Ronda de Dalt and Litoral and all of the city of Barcelona within. The actual transit on the Rondas itself are not part of the Zone, everything within is. This applies to all Andorran registered cars.
So what do I have to do if I have an Andorra registered car?
Originally the Government wanted to request the Barcelona authorities to exempt Andorran registered cars on the grounds that the ITv requirements here are superior to the limit imposed in the new zones known as ZBE. It now has been agreed that all Andorran registered cars need to apply to the Government here to be included in their online register that will then permit free circulation of the car in Barcelona. This is a simple registration process that guarantees your inclusion in the register within 24 hours. The registration is valid for TWO years. The registration is now for an indefinite period without renewal requirements. Obviously this is for the life of the car or if the law changes then this may not apply.
The form to complete is here and costs 7.50 euros. You need to submit the form physically to the Government Tràmits here in Andorra.