Driving For Members

Still haven't swapped your UK driving licence for a Spanish one before Brexit? Don’t panic

The Local Spain
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Still haven't swapped your UK driving licence for a Spanish one before Brexit? Don’t panic
Photo: AntonioGuillemF/Depositphotos"

One of the preparations Brits have been advised to do before Brexit is to make sure they had renewed or exchanged their DVLA licence for a Spanish equivalent. But many have been having issues.


Many readers have complained that it is difficult to get appointments to exchange their UK driving licences for Spanish ones as the Brexit deadline of October 31st approaches.  

Even after the original Brexit date of March 29th was postponed last minute applications has meant it is a struggle to book an appointment at some DGT (Direccion General de Trafico) offices, especially those where there are a big concentration of British residents such as Alicante. 

Some people have tried to get appointments in other cities where there are less foreigners requesting the service and reportedly it is still possible to secure an appointment at the Bilbao office within a week.

But the Spanish government has recognised the backlog and are giving Brits nine months after Brexit to get their licences in order.

READ MORE: Healthcare in Spain after Brexit: What you need to know

If the UK leaves the EU with a Withdrawal Agreement, the provisions relating to the recognition of driving licences will remain in place until the end of the transition period, which currently is set to stand until  December 31st 2020.

Spain’s Royal Decree on Brexit contingency measures, which was signed by Pedro Sanchez’s government in March specifically mentions the issue of driving licences.

The new law, which  appears on the Official State Bulletin, states that those issued with driving licences by the DVLA will have a transitional period of nine months from the day the UK exits the European Union to swap theirs over for a Spanish one -a legal requirement if you have lived in Spain for two years.

The details are also outlined on the Spanish government's dedicated Brexit page

After the 9 month grace period, following Brexit, British licences will be subject to the regulations for ´third countries´ and British driving licences will NOT be able to be swapped for Spanish ones unless a new bilateral agreement between Spain and UK has been drawn up.

Failure to swap your licence could, in the worst case scenario, mean that in order to drive legally in Spain one would have to sit the Spanish driving test.

Don’t worry about the exchange being permanent either. If you return to the UK permanently then it is simple enough to request a replacement British driving licence from the DVLA:

And on visits back to the UK it should still be possible to drive with a Spanish licence as it is now, although check the insurance policy of the car you are using back in UK.

For more about how to exchange your driving licence for a Spanish one, read our guide HERE




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