14 Mar, 2023 @ 19:12
2 mins read

UK ambassador releases video explaining next steps for victims of driving licence debacle in Spain

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THE UK ambassador to Spain, Hugh Elliott, on Tuesday posted a video on social media that he said, he hopes, is his ‘last update for you on driving licences’. 

The video was shared by the top diplomat after the Spanish Interior Ministry announced that a deal with the UK had finally been approved by the Cabinet on driving licence and traffic information exchange. 

The announcement brings to an end more than 10 months of hell for holders of UK licences resident in Spain, and who have been unable to legally take to the Spanish roads since May 1 of last year. 

‘I am pleased to confirm that the agreement to enable UK licence holders resident in Spain to exchange your licences for a Spanish one without taking a driving test was approved today by Spain’s Cabinet,’ Elliott said in his message. 

‘Tomorrow there will be a formal exchange of notes between the UK and Spain, and the day after that, on Thursday, you’ll be able to drive again in Spain on your UK licence for six months, during which time you should exchange your licence for a Spanish one as soon as possible,’ he continued.

The ambassador then explained the next steps that UK licence holders should take. ‘As soon as the booking system is available on the DGT website, the first thing you need to do is to get an appointment with a Jefatura u Oficina de Tráfico, to do the exchange,’ he explained.

He also reminded victims of the situation that they will need to take an aptitude test known in Spanish as the psicotécnico, an essential step that must be taken before the document exchange. 

‘If you don’t exchange within the six month window, you won’t be able to drive any more using your UK licence, but you will still be able to exchange your licence after that time without taking the Spanish test,’ Elliott said. 

The ambassador also had some words of thanks. ‘I know this process has taken a lot longer than we would all have liked, and has been very difficult for many of you,’ he said. 

‘I’m really grateful to you for your forbearance during that process. And to all of you who have remained courteous with us in your criticisms, which we have understood because of the strength of feelings about this very difficult situation,’ he continued. 

He concluded by thanking those on both sides of the negotiation, as well as the members of his team at the embassy in Madrid. 

Holders of UK licences resident in Spain who did not or could not exchange their documents before a December 2020 cut-off point were left unable to drive on May 1 of last year, as the last of a series of extensions expired. 

Since then, these victims have been unable to legally take to the roads while Spain and the UK hammered out post-Brexit arrangements. 

A situation that was expected to last just weeks has stretched out for more than 10 months, causing serious problems for the victims, many of whom were in a vulnerable situation. 

With the announcement from the Interior Ministry today, the victims will finally be able to legally get back on the roads from Thursday.

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Simon Hunter

Simon Hunter has been living in Madrid since the year 2000 and has worked as a journalist and translator practically since he arrived. For 16 years he was at the English Edition of Spanish daily EL PAÍS, editing the site from 2014 to 2022, and is currently one of the Spain reporters at The Times. He is also a voice actor, and can be heard telling passengers to "mind the gap" on Spain's AVLO high-speed trains.

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