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I am a Mexican and French citizen living in France. Whenever the situation comes back closer to normality (after the pandemic), I would like to drive around Spain.

As a French citizen, I would need a French driving license which I do not have. As a Mexican citizen, visiting Spain as a tourist, I could drive a car with my Mexican license (which I have) during my tourist stay.

Having both nationalities, will I be able to play the "I am a Mexican tourist so I can drive with my Mexican license"?

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  • This might be helpful: spain.info/en/travel-tips/driving-regulations – WGroleau Apr 5 at 7:28
  • Also: quora.com/… – WGroleau Apr 5 at 7:35
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    The requirement for the “nationality” of the driving license is usually based on residency, not citizenship. So if you are living in France, you should have converted your Mexican driving license to a French one (you don’t need to get a new one, you can just convert the existing one in most cases). – jcaron Apr 5 at 9:22
  • Thank you both for the resources. What unlocks this mystery for me is jcaron's and Relaxed's argument about the requirement being based on residency not on citizenship. – daniel_goyen Apr 5 at 13:54
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The two are totally unrelated. There is no requirement for French citizens to hold a French license in either France or Spain. For example, a license that a French citizen obtained while residing in another EU country is fully valid in both countries, even if you were to take up residence.

I am not familiar with the requirements for your Mexican license to be recognised in Spain but I would be extremely surprised if it was tied to your Mexican citizenship. In Spain, like in many other countries, what definitely matters is whether you are a resident or not. If you were to move to Spain, you might be required to get a local license (rather quickly in most cases, after 2 to 10 years for EU licenses).

To the extent that citizenship would be relevant, you could certainly “play the Mexican citizen card” as you put it. You are and remain a Mexican (and French) citizen. Contrary to what many people seem to believe, the passport you use at a border crossing doesn't change that, there is no notion of being-in-the-country-as-a-X. It can work to your advantage (e.g. EU freedom of movement rights remain intact even if you don't have a French passport) or to your disadvantage (e.g. you are not entitled to consular assistance in France, even if you enter using your Mexican passport).

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  • Thank you for your answer. It was very clear. Given that my Mexican license is valid for 3 months as a tourist in Spain, do you know how that would work with me ? Given that I would not have any method to prove that I have been in Spain less than 3 months if someone asked about my status (since I have been living in France since a long time, so no passport stamps or anything like that). – daniel_goyen Apr 5 at 14:28
  • @daniel_goyen If it comes to that, you can establish that you do not live in Spain by showing evidence of your residence in France (utility bills, bank cards, carte vitale), your presence in France (any receipt, groceries, etc.), and your travels (motorway toll, fuel receipt, bus tickets, whatever). – Relaxed Apr 5 at 16:43
  • @daniel_goyen US licensing is similar. My wife has a foreign license; we live in New York. She can't drive in New York, but I am fairly sure she can drive in other US states. As a resident of France, you need a French license in France, but you can still drive elsewhere with your Mexican license (unless it is invalidated for some reason). But do be careful: this could come up if you're stopped by police, but it could also come up in an insurance claim. If having a valid license is a condition of coverage, the insurer will want to argue that the license is invalid to avoid paying the claim. – phoog Apr 5 at 18:27
  • Yes, indeed the insurance claim is something in my mind. I think that I will take the risk but I will indeed abstain from driving as much as possible. Thank you all for the answers. – daniel_goyen Apr 9 at 19:44

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