The British Embassy in Madrid has announced that Spanish authorities have for the third time extended the period of validity of UK driving licences in Spain, with negotiations over a licence exchange “to conclude as soon as possible” but are “not there yet”.
“We are pleased to let you know that the Spanish Government has today confirmed the extension of the grace period during which you can drive in Spain using a valid UK licence until the end of February 2022,” The UK Embassy in Madrid wrote in a Facebook post.
This is the third extension since Brexit meant their UK-issued documents became unrecognised by the common EU framework, the first extension being announced in June 2021 and the second one in October.
The two-month grace period gives UK licence holders who live in Spain and registered their intent to exchange their licence more time to do so. For those who didn’t register their intent, it offers more time to sit their Spanish driving test and obtain a Spanish licence.
“We recognise that the extension is relatively short, and therefore it is important that – if it is imperative for you to drive – you consider all your options, which may include looking into taking a driving test now,” the Embassy headed by UK Ambassador to Spain Hugh Elliott stressed.
On the subject of a potential deal between Spain and the UK, the embassy wrote: “As you know, the UK Government is committed to reaching a long-term agreement with Spain so that residents can exchange their UK driving licences without taking a test.
“Negotiations are continuing and we stand ready to conclude that agreement as soon as possible. But unfortunately we are not there yet.”
In an earlier Facebook video, UK Ambassador Hugh Elliott admitted that “many of you have also rightly pointed out that Spaniards resident in the UK are able to exchange their Spanish licence for a UK one without taking a practical test”.
After a long wait for answers, UK licence holders in Spain are now hoping that a reciprocal agreement can finally be reached to solve the Brexit-induced obstacle.
It is unclear yet if any future agreement would be beneficial to only British residents who are protected under the Withdrawal Agreement or other UK licence holders who have moved or will move to Spain to become residents after Brexit came into force on 1st January 2021. Unless Spain has a bilateral agreement with a third country for the recognition and exchange of licences, most non-EU driving licence holders have six months from their arrival in Spain to use their foreign licences.
After that, they have to sit a theory and practical examination and get a Spanish licence from scratch.
This doesn’t apply to British tourists with UK licences visiting Spain who are for example renting a car during their holidays. The issues only affect UK licence holders who are residents in Spain.