SPAIN has extended the deadline requiring British drivers living in Spain to have a Spanish licence from June 30 to October 31.
The last minute extension will come as a huge relief to those Brits who have still not managed to exchange their DVLA issued driving licences for Spanish ones, always a legal requirement for those who have lived here for more than six months but one that became even more essential with Brexit.
The British Embassy in Madrid announced the news on its Facebook page on Wednesday: “We know that many of you have been anxious that the recognition of UK driving licences was set to end on June 30th.”
“We are pleased that the Spanish Government yesterday announced that UK licences will continue to be recognised until October 31st 2021.”
The extension was also included in an update on the UK’s Living in Spain guide and in a statement on Spain’s Foreign Ministry website.
However, the extension only applies to those who were already living in Spain prior to the Withdrawal Agreement deadline of December 31 last year, regardless of whether you had your residency papers before that date or actually registered your intent to change your licence.
The Embassy clarified that the extension applies “for those of you who were resident in Spain before December 31st 2020 – even if you did not get your residency document until after the end of the Transition Period.”
It also said: “This extension applies whether you registered your intention to exchange your licence with the DGT before December 30th 2020 or not.”
Newer arrivals however will only have six months in Spain to use their British licence before they have to take a test for a Spanish licence, a process that involves a theory and practical exam.
“Please note that if you arrived after January 1st 2021, your licence will only remain valid for six months from your arrival in Spain,” the British Embassy statement said.
“If you did not register to exchange your licence with the DGT before 30 December 2020 and wish to exchange your UK driving licence now, you would need to follow the DGT process for non-EU nationals, which includes taking a driving test.
British authorities remain confident however that a deal over future exchanges is still on the cards.
“Negotiations are underway between the UK and Spanish Governments on arrangements for the future exchange of UK driving licences without the need for a practical test. As soon as we have further information on this we will share it here,” said the post on the Brits in Spain facebook page.
Before Brexit, EU rules meant a relatively straightforward exchange process for British drivers but last minute rush of applications compounded by coronavirus restrictions meant many residents weren’t able to process their applications in time.
Those who did manage to register their intent before December 30 2020 had until June 30 to complete that exchange but that deadline has also now been extended until the end of 2021.
The latest development means that Brits who have failed to even start their application and who failed to have a Spanish licence by June 30 have a further four months to pass their Spanish driving test, unless the promised agreement to ease the process is struck between British and Spanish authorities.
“If you registered your details to exchange your UK driving licence for a Spanish licence before the end of last year, the deadline of June 30th 2021 has been extended until December 31st 2021, to allow you more time to complete your licence exchange,” the Embassy said in a post on its Brits in Spain facebook page last month.
There was hope even for those who have had their exchange rejected, an issue that The Olive Press reported earlier this month.
“If you have attempted to complete the exchange of your licence since January 1st but your application was rejected due to your TIE being dated to 2021, the DGT office will get in touch with you directly to arrange for the completion of the exchange.
“If this is your situation, and you do not hear anything after a few weeks, you should request an appointment with the DGT. “
“The DGT has also confirmed that both the green residence document and the TIE are valid proof of residence when completing the exchange,” the British Embassy added.
For those who have experienced problems with DGT officials, the British Embassy directs them to an official note from the Spanish government that should help clear things up.
“You can see the Spanish government’s bilingual nota aclaratoria that states the ongoing validity of the green residency certificate here,” they said.
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