News emerged this weekend that in the event of a no-deal Brexit, a nine month deadline will be imposed on British drivers in Spain to request a Spanish driving licence. After this deadline, British driving licences cannot be exchanged for the Spanish equivalent unless a bilateral agreement is reached between both governments.
A range of measures were agreed as part of a Royal Decree issued on Friday in order to protect British citizens in the event of a no-deal Brexit. The decree gives British residents of Spain access to healthcare until at least the end of 2020. Spain has also agreed it will provide residency for an estimated 400,000 Britons and maintain freedom of movement at the Gibraltarian border.
Spain’s Foreign Minister, Josep Borrell said that the aim of the decree is to “preserve the interests of citizens, Spaniards in the UK and Britons in Spain, who exercised their right to free movement before Brexit. We have to respect that.”
As the March 29th deadline draws nearer, the possibility of a no-deal Brexit is becoming increasingly likely.
The Spanish government has made it clear that the concessions they are offering to British citizens here are subject to Spanish people in the UK receiving equivalent treatment. Over 9,000 Spaniards cross the border with Gibraltar every day to work, while an estimated 150,000 Spaniards live in the UK.
The Costa Blanca People spoke to Francisco Morales, the Guardia Civil officer behind the N332 ‘Driving in Spain’ Facebook page which currently has over 127,000 followers. Francisco said, “This is really important news for British drivers in Spain. After Brexit, UK licences will be categorised differently – they will be non EU licences. Unless both governments sign a bilateral agreement, only UK drivers who carry the required international driving licence will be able to drive here. If British residents here don’t change their licence during this nine month grace period, it could be problematic.”
Francisco went on to explain that if a Briton resident in Spain does not exchange his or her licence before the nine month deadline, according to the Royal Decree 81 (Article 21 – Valid licences for driving in Spain) their only option is to apply for an International Driving Permit in the UK which could be a complicated process if you are a Spanish resident.