THE British Ambassador in Madrid confirmed that the UK has requested Spain to extend the post-Brexit driving licence exchange deadline yet again while negotiations for a permanent solution continue.
Hugh Elliott confirmed the latest request less than two weeks away from the February 28 deadline, after which British residents in Spain will no longer have an automatic right to exchange their British licences for Spanish ones and will have to sit the Spanish driving test.
Speaking via the Brits in Spain Facebook page, Ambassador Hugh Elliott acknowledged that the issue was causing anxiety, but explained:
“As you’d expect, I can’t go into the details of the negotiations, but I can say they are ongoing. We have asked Spain for an extension to the grace period for the recognition of your UK licences for a sufficient period of time to allow us to work through the negotiation and reach the definitive agreement that we all want.”
Currently, 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.
If accepted, this would be the fourth extension to date since Britain’s departure from the EU, with many Brits hoping for an agreement that would mean they could avoid taking the Spanish driving test.
However, the Embassy has 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.
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.
Negotiations for a deal similar to the one struck between France and the UK on licenses have so failed to materialise.
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.
The negotiations have 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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