THE OLIVE PRESS is calling for a resolution to the ongoing saga of Brits who, since May 1, are no longer legally allowed to drive without taking a Spanish driving test if they have been resident in Spain for at least six months and didn’t manage to swap their licences for a Spanish one under a post-Brexit interim arrangement.

On Tuesday June 2, Hugh Elliott, the British ambassador for Spain said he was hopeful a deal would be signed ‘in weeks rather than months’.

But for many, driving in Spain is absolutely essential and a few weeks in the future is simply not good enough.

Terry Brown and Jo Searle, both 58, are thinking about returning to the UK after being caught out in the mess.

The couple, who ironically run a car rental service in Vera, Almeria, face going under due to the licence issues. 

Terry, a former fraud investigator in London, had received an email on December 5, 2021, from SSL gestoria services confirming his NIE and residency documents had been approved.

But there was no mention of a licence swap which he had also applied for.

Terry Brown
Terry Brown outside his now struggling business.
Photo: Terry Brown

He was told he had to wait for official acceptance papers before he could register his intention to swap licences which would take ‘only a few days’. 

When he had heard nothing by December 22 he started to panic and continually called for more information until on December 29 he was told he didn’t have to wait for official approval.

Finally, after a four-hour wait on an official DGT line on December 30 he was told he had ‘successfully registered’ his intention to swap.

“I had to drive to Albox to sign an affidavit to say the information was correct,” he explains.

“I then got on with focusing on our car service, building up the business and committing to pickups and rentals.”

And everything seemed to be going well until after negotiations broke down Terry received an email stating that the DGT had made an error and in fact they could not exchange his licence. 

Meanwhile a 75-year-old man from Wigan who didn’t want to be named moved here in November 2019.

“I want to shed light on another factor that no one seems to be mentioning – that over the Christmas period of 2019, there was a travel ban in the UK meaning many Brits who went to the UK for Christmas were unable to get back to Spain to register with the traffico.” 

As the former train driver was stranded in the UK, he could not get back to Spain to begin the process of swapping his licence. 

The 75-year-old is receiving cancer treatment in Torrevieja, but now has to cycle to and from his treatment.

We urge our readers to sign the parliamentary petition to force a debate in the House of Commons HERE.

Have you been affected by this issue? Get in touch at newsdesk@theolivepress.es

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