SPANISH authorities have extended the period of validity of UK driving licences in Spain for another two months granting a request by the British Ambassador in Madrid just days before the deadline.

It is the fourth time Spain has agreed to extend the measure while negotiations are ongoing to agree a permanent solution to the issue. The measure was approved in a cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

The move comes just days after British Ambassador in Madrid, Hugh Elliott, revealed he had requested an extension to the February 28 deadline.

 “Following the Ambassador’s message last week we are pleased to let you know that yesterday the Spanish Government confirmed an extension of the current grace period for the recognition of UK driving licences,” said a message posted on Wednesday on the Brits in Spain Facebook page run by the UK Embassy in Madrid.

“That means that those of you who were living in Spain before January 1st 2021 can continue to drive in Spain with your valid UK driving licence until April 30th 2022,” the British Embassy explained. 

“If you moved to Spain after January 1st 2021, your licence will be recognised for six months from the date you obtained residence, or until April 30th 2022, whichever is later. 

“For those of you who registered your intention to exchange your licence with the DGT before December 30th 2020, but have not yet done so, you have until April 30th to request an appointment.”

driving licence British embassy photo

The news will come as a relief for those British residents who were here before December 31, 2020 and have not yet managed to make the exchange but will have no effect on those who arrived after the Brexit deadline as well as newer arrivals.

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.

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.

In his last message  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.”

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