One of the key tasks for those living in Spain ahead of Brexit was to ensure that they had exchanged their DVLA British licence for a Spanish one before the end of the transition period.
Although this has long been a legal required for anyone who has lived in Spain for at least six months, the issue took on an urgency with Brexit when authorities warned that those with British licences would no longer be entitled to simply swap their licence for a Spanish once the UK left Europe and the transition period came to end.
The problem was, it became very difficult to book a cita previa at DGT offices in those areas where lots of Brits live even before coronavirus struck and forced the closure of administrative offices.
- Q&A: How to pass Spain's driving test and get a Spanish licence
- Exchanging your British driving licence for a Spanish one: What you need to know
So as the December 31st deadline approached many of our readers reported becoming increasing desperate and frustrated at the failure to secure the DGT appointment.
“I’ve been trying at all hours of the day from very early in the morning to late at night for weeks now,” Madrid resident David Mathieson told The Local.
“And not just in offices in Madrid but at DGTs all across Spain, but you just can’t find them. It’s been impossible.”
But this week, the British Embassy in Madrid has the welcome news that they have been in discussion with the Spanish transport authorities and plans are afoot to revise the system.
“The DGT are aware that there are difficulties getting appointments ot exchange licence and are looking to open up more appointments soon, although we don’t have exact date for that,” said Lorna Geddie, consular policy advisor in Madrid said in a recent Facebook Live Q&A session.
But she reported a development this week that will come as very welcome news to those who have yet to exchange their licence.
“(The DGT) are going to be setting up a process to streamline the application process for UK nationals because they are aware that there are lot of UK licence holders trying to get through the system.”
She went on to explain that what they are planning is something very similar that was put in place for a short time ahead of the ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement as a No Deal contingency plan, which saw Brits registering their intent to exchange a driving licence ahead of being able to secure an appointment.
“They will set up a form that UK licence holders can complete and submit to the DGT by December 25th that will be pre-registration or a first step in the exchange process. What the DGT will be able to do is on basis of information on that form then verify your licence. You will need to get an appointment to finish the process but that appointment can be from January 1st onwards.”
This will help UK nationals who have been trying to do this by December 31st and are worried that they will run out of time.
“The new process to be introduced by DGT will allow people to do this first step via this form to register details and provide licence details so as long as that is done by the end of the year then the actual appointment for the exchange can happen from next year onwards as and when they are able to get an appointment through the online system,” Geddie said.
There are no details yet of when this new system will come into force, Geddie confirmed or exactly how it work and where online it can be processed but the message is a reassuring one.
- Spain's government has a dedicated Brexit page for UK nationals HERE
- Check out the UK Foreign Office latest advice on Living In Spain HERE
- Follow the British Embassy Facebook page for updates as well as Live Q&A sessions HERE
- Check The Local Spain Brexit section for all the latest news and updates: HERE