Driving licence negotiations continue between the UK and Spain with the April 30th deadline for an agreement now passed. Currently, Britons living in Spain cannot drive using a UK issued licence. A UK government source said: “This could go on for a week, or it could be longer. It should be temporary, but we don’t know how temporary.”
A Foreign Office spokesperson said: “An agreement to swap UK driving licences for Spanish licences has not yet been reached. From May 1, UK licence holders who have been resident in Spain for more than six months and did not exchange their licence during the transition period will no longer be able to drive legally in Spain. We have agreed to rapidly accelerate talks, and are urging the Spanish government to bring forward interim measures.”
Anyone affected by the ban is advised to take immediate steps to apply for a Spanish licence, which will involve both a theory and a practical test.
The change does not apply to holidaymakers, who can still use their British driving licences while in Spain.
The official guidance on the UK government’s website for British expats in Spain says the following:
“If you have a valid UK driving licence:
• From 1st May 2022, if you were living in Spain before 1st January 2021, your valid UK driving licence will no longer be valid for driving in Spain.
• If you moved to Spain after 1st January 2021, your valid UK licence will be recognised for 6 months from the date you obtained residence.”
British Ambassador to Spain Hugh Elliot said on Saturday “The UK and Spanish Governments are still negotiating. UK and Spanish Ministers spoke today and agreed to rapidly accelerating talks next week in the hope of reaching an agreement soon – as we already have in almost every other EU Member State.
But we’re not there just yet. And we will not have reached an agreement in time for the end of the current grace period (30 April).
What does this mean for you? It means that if you have been resident in Spain for longer than six months, your UK-issued licence will no longer be valid to drive here from 1 May.
Driving a vehicle without a valid licence is illegal in Spain. If you are affected by this change and need to drive, you should not wait for the outcome of the negotiations and should take immediate steps to apply for a Spanish licence – as we have been advising for some time now.
This does not affect visiting motorists from the UK or Gibraltar or UK licence holders who have recently moved to Spain. You have six months from the date you get your residence document to take a Spanish test.
We know this will cause significant difficulties for those who have not yet been able to exchange their licence. I am relieved that most of you were able to exchange your licence as advised before the end of the transition period.
Negotiations will continue early next week and we will provide you with further news when we have it.
We are doing all we can to secure a long-term solution swiftly. Please stay up to date on gov.uk/livinginspain and here on our Facebook page.”
The Facebook page N332 which offers driving advice for foreigners in Spain said, “From Sunday 1st May finishes the extension period given to the UK driving licences is over. The period has not been extended so if you have been resident for longer than 6 months, your Uk licence will no longer be valid to drive in Spain.
Then there are two options – Wait until authorities reach a new agreement, and not drive until this happens. Or sign up in a Spanish Driving School and get a Spanish licence.
We remind you that the fine for driving with a licence from a third country which has no exchange agreement with Spain is 500 euros and the immobilisation of the vehicle.”
At the time of going to print, there had been no progress in the talks but readers are urged to check the N332 Facebook page and the ‘Brits in Spain’ Facebook page for up to date developments.