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DRIVING

Brexit: How residency hold-ups could mean many Brits in Spain need to sit their driving test again

Processing delays in Spanish residency applications could mean Britons in Spain miss the deadline for exchanging their UK driving licences for Spanish ones and have to sit their exam again. 

Brexit: How residency hold-ups could mean many Brits in Spain need to sit their driving test again
Photo: UK driving licence photocard. (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS / AFP)

The repercussions of Brexit on the lives of Britons in the EU and Europeans in Britain continue to stack up.

Hundreds of British drivers in Spain currently face a veritable catch-22 scenario involving their residencies and their driving licences, citizens rights group Brexpats in Spain has revealed. 

As things stand, UK nationals who are Spanish residents will be allowed to drive in Spain with a valid UK driving licence until June 30th 2021. 

They had until December 31st 2020 to register their intent to exchange their licence for a Spanish one and Spanish authorities offered them a grace period of 6 months until June 30th 2021 in which to carry out the licence exchange. 

Unfortunately, there are still plenty of Britons who applied for residency in Spain under the Withdrawal Agreement and are waiting for confirmation that it’s been approved, meaning they risk missing this new deadline and having to sit their driving test – theory and practical – again in Spain. 

“In some places there are huge waiting lists for the carta de resolución (results letter for approval of residency) which obviously you can’t exchange your British driving licence without,” Anne Hernandez, head of Brexpats in Spain told The Local.

“In places with a higher concentration of Brits such as Málaga and Alicante there are long waits for residency.

READ MORE: How long are Britons waiting for their residency in Spain to be processed?

“Lots of Brits are worried they’re not going to get that processed before June 30th,” Hernandez added, stressing that the carta de resolución rather than the actual TIE residency card will be enough for UK drivers to be able to register their details for a licence exchange with Spain’s DGT traffic authority.

“It’s just not working, the problem is not everyone will be able to prove they fall under the Withdrawal Agreement by June 30th,” Brexpats in Spain Vice President Richard Hill told The Local.

The rules for British drivers in Spain are now the same as for most other non-EU/EEA nations, who can drive in Spain with their original licences for a period of six months after obtaining residency. 

READ ALSO: Driving in Spain – Who can exchange their licence and who has to resit the exam?

Brits who can prove they fall under the Withdrawal Agreement – in essence that they were living in Spain before December 31st 2020 – should technically be able to avoid having to sit their driving exam again by exchanging their licence. 

“But what’s going to happen is that there’s going to be hundreds or more – and I think that’s not an exaggeration –  of British people who find themselves in limbo and have to take a Spanish driving test,” Hill, who is based in Alicante, said.

READ ALSO: Can I take my practical exam in English?

“Many of these people have been trying to comply, it’s an awful situation.

“We’re assured by the UK Embassy they are working on getting a reciprocal agreement over driving licences but this hasn’t been confirmed yet.”

These discussions have been ongoing since at least the start of 2021. Other European countries are also at different stages of negotiations regarding the exchange of UK licences of their British residents.

READ ALSO: How do rules for exchanging UK driving licences compare for Brits around Europe?

“The UK and Spain are currently in discussion about an exchange process, longer term,” – Regional Consular Policy Adviser at the British Embassy in Madrid Lorna Geddie said during a Q&A in April.

“Spain doesn’t have to give us an extension, they’ve already been very kind giving us this 6-month grace period. But we are asking if there will be another extension to the June 30th deadline,” Hernandez concluded.

UPDATE: On May 27th, the UK Embassy in Madrid announced that British drivers who registered their details to exchange their UK driving licences for Spanish ones before the end of last year will get an extra six months in which to carry out the swap until December 31st 2021.But what does the extension not cover for British drivers? FIND OUT MORE HERE

READ MORE: 

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TRAVEL

Spanish fuel prices fall but can’t stop most expensive August ever

Although the cost of filling up in Spain has been falling in recent weeks, petrol and diesel prices in August make it the most expensive on record despite government discounts softening the blow.

Spanish fuel prices fall but can't stop most expensive August ever

Filling up a tank of petrol or diesel in Spain costs between €16 and €23 more than a year ago, making it the most expensive August on record – despite the government’s 20 cents per litre discount on fuel.

Filling an average 55 litre tank with either petrol or diesel now costs around €93, which is equivalent to €16 more than a year ago for petrol, and €23 more for diesel.

READ ALSO: REMINDER: How drivers in Spain can get 20 euro cents off every litre of fuel

Until this week, peak prices for the first week of August were back in 2013, when petrol cost €1.472 a litre and diesel €1.376, 16 percent and 19 percent less than current costs.

Prices have also already exceed the average monthly costs in August 2021, by 17 percent and 25 percent respectively, when fuel reached €1.416 and €1.29.

Falling prices

Despite these record breaking prices, fuel prices in Spain have actually been falling in recent weeks, reaching their lowest values since May.

As of Thursday 4th August, petrol in Spain is sold on average at €1.702 per litre, and diesel €1.693, including the government discount. 

Without the discount, the price of petrol is €1.902 per litre and diesel €1,893 on average, according to figures from the European Union Oil Bulletin.

The government’s reduction on fuel costs, introduced as part of an ongoing raft of measures to help Spaniards amidst the cost of living crisis, means consumers save around €11 every time they fill up the tank.

The 20 cent reduction on the litre was introduced in March of this year, when fuel prices jumped and crossed the €2 per litre threshold.

READ ALSO: Where to get the cheapest fuel in Spain

Below European averages

Fortunately for Spaniards, the combination of falling prices and the government taking 20 cents off the litre mean that Spanish fuel prices are below the European average, where petrol costs €1.856 and diesel €1.878 across the member states.

The most expensive EU countries for petrol are Denmark (€2.218) and Finland (€2.19), while for diesel Sweden (€2.37) and Finland (€2.153) are the priciest places to fill up.

On the other hand, although Spanish prices are falling they are not the cheapest in Europe. The cheapest places for petrol prices are Hungary (€1.29) and Malta (€1.34), and also for diesel: Malta (€1.21) and Hungary (€1.558).

Of surrounding western European nations, Spaniards are paying the least for their fuel. In Germany, for example, petrol costs on average €1.814 a litre and diesel €1.943. In France, the costs are €1.844 and €1.878 respectively; in Italy €1.877 and €1.851; and across the border in Portugal, the prices are €1.889 and €1.83.

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