16 Feb, 2022 @ 17:15
2 mins read

Time running out as deadline approaches for driving licence exchange for Brits resident in Spain

coat car driving Photo by Jantine Doornbos on Unsplash
coat car driving Photo by Jantine Doornbos on Unsplash

AFTER February 28, British residents in Spain will no longer have an automatic legal right to drive using their British licence unless there is another last minute extension.

It means that those who have residency in Spain and who had registered their intent to exchange their British driving licence for a Spanish one – a measure required to have been done with the DGT before December 30 2020 – have until the end of February to conclude the process.

There have been three extensions to date since Britain’s departure from the EU, with many Brits hoping for an agreement that would allow indefinite use of their UK licence.

As the last deadline loomed on December 31, British Ambassador in Madrid, Hugh Elliott said he had requested an extension while insisting that negotiations for a permanent solution were ongoing.

driving licence British embassy photo
Negotiations for a deal similar to the one struck between France and the UK on licenses have so failed to materialise.

In a post on the Brits in Spain facebook page earlier in February, the British Embassy said: “Many of you have been in touch with us to ask whether you will continue to be able to drive in Spain using a valid UK licence after February 28 2022, which marks the end of the current grace period. We recognise your concerns and want to reassure you that we remain fully committed to reaching a long-term agreement with Spain, so that residents can exchange their UK driving licences without taking a test.”

The Embassy advised people for whom driving is essential to consider taking a test in Spain. The test comprises a theory and practical test, and both can be taken in English. 

New arrivals to Spain are able to use their British driving license in Spain for a maximum of 6 months. 

The current rules mean that British drivers must apply for a Spanish licence within six months of becoming resident in Spain. Before Brexit this was a relatively simple process – although there have been difficulties with securing appointments at the DGT thanks to overwhelming numbers of applications as Brexit approached plus complications caused by the pandemic.

However, without an agreement, Brits would have to sit the Spanish driving licence from scratch.

The issue does not affect those who are visiting Spain when driving with a British licence is valid in the short term.

Negotiations to allow Brits to swap their driving licence for a Spanish one have so far failed to reach a long term agreement.

It has become the latest sticking point in post-brexit Anglo-Spanish relations.

As it stands, Spain and Italy are the only EU countries where licence exchange negotiations are ongoing. 

Driving licences remain valid in Italy until the end of 2022.

Agreements with French and Swedish authorities were finalised in 2021, allowing Brits to swap their licence for either countries’ without taking a test.

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George Mathias

George is an NCTJ trained-journalist who moved from London to Spain's Costa del Sol and joined the Olive Press in February 2022. He has previous experience working at the Basingstoke Gazette and Reach. Contact him George@theolivepress.es

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