Driver’s license codes: What do they mean?

Published 21/10/2019
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The driver’s license codes are intended to indicate to the authorities certain limitations or restrictions that the owner of the driving document has when driving a vehicle. Or even that the car itself must have certain adapted mechanisms. For example, if you need glasses or contact lenses, if you cannot exceed a specific speed or if it is a temporary permit in the case of foreigners. It is also indicated if your physical circumstances make it necessary that you drive a modified car. These numerical codes are easily visible, as they are located on the back of your driving license.

In 2017, they were modified to be standardized with those of the rest of the European Union. Therefore, many of them have validity throughout Europe, but there are also some that only have validity in Spain.

Most frequent driver’s license codes’ meanings

However, it is possible that a license does not have any of these codes, as is the case when the holder of the driver’s license does not have any limitations or because his vehicle does not need any special modifications. Next, we will explain which codes are the most common.

Common codes in the European Union

Limitations related to the driver

The main codes that signal limitations regarding your personal circumstances as a driver are those ranging from numbers 01 to 05:

  • Code 01 indicates vision correction or protection. That is, if you need glasses or contact lenses, or if you need to cover an eye.
  • Code 02 indicates that you need to wear a hearing aid in one or both ears.
  • Code 03 also refers to prostheses or orthoses, in this case of the upper and / or lower extremities.
  • Finally, code 05 is a mandatory subcode that indicates restricted driving. For example, that you can only drive your car during the day or for a certain number of kilometers, that you have a certain speed limitation, that you cannot haul a trailer or that you can only drive on the highway.

Vehicle modifications

As for the codes ranging from 10 to 35, they are related to certain modifications that your car requires. The most significant include the following:

  • Code 10 indicates that your vehicle must carry modified transmission.
  • Code 15, that it must have an equally adapted clutch.
  • As for code 20, it points out the same for your car’s brake mechanism.
  • Code 25 requires that the acceleration system be adapted.
  • Regarding code 30, it combines the two codes above, since it indicates that your car must have combined acceleration mechanisms and adapted brakes.
  • Lastly, code 35 indicates that the control devices of your car must be adapted. For example, the turn signals or headlight switches, the horn or the windshield wipers and their washing system.

Common codes in Spain

As we mentioned, some of these codes are only used in Spain. These are the ones numbered from 101 to 171. Among them, the most important ones are those explained below:

  • Code 101 only appears on type D (vehicles intended to transport people) and D1 (coaches)driving licenses. It usually refers to the fact that the vehicle must not circulate on routes which are further than 50 kilometers from its base.
  • Code 102 indicates that the license in question has been extended for 4 years since its expiration. Related to this is code 103, as it indicates that the driving document has been obtained once more 4 years after having expired. As well as code 104, as it states that the license has been obtained or extended for a period of validity shorter than usual.
  • Regarding code 105, it indicates that the holder of the driver’s license is not permitted to drive at the maximum speed at which his car can go for administrative reasons.
  • And finally, code 171 indicates that the license is a duplicate because the original has been stolen or because it has been damaged or lost.

Annex I of the BOE General Driver Regulations of June 8, 2009 reflects the codes that exist.

What happens if I don’t comply with these codes?

These codes are intended to promote traffic safety and prevent accidents. In this sense, they let the road authorities know that the driver in question must respect specific restrictions. For this reason, the breach of what they indicate carries an economic sanction, although it does not entail withdrawal of driving points. Specifically, not respecting the provisions of these codes is considered a serious offense that is punishable by a fine of 200 euros.

In conclusion, these driver’s license codes indicate that the licensee is subject to certain restrictions at the wheel. The objective is to indicate to the authorities certain restrictions and limitations of the owner or vehicle in question to ensure their safety and that of other drivers

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