OCT 27TH UPDATE: Spain extends UK driving licence validity until December 31st
The UK Embassy is hoping Spanish authorities will grant British residents in Spain more time to continue driving with their UK licences in the Spanish territory.
“We are asking the Spanish Government for an extension to the 31st October date and will update you as soon as we know the outcome,” wrote the UK Embassy in a Facebook post on Monday.
There is no indication yet whether another extension – if approved – would be three months, in which case it would be the end of December 2021.
The first deadline by which British licence holders in Spain could no longer drive in the country was June 30th 2021, six months after Brexit came into force on January 1st 2021.
This was extended by Spain’s DGT on June 23rd until October 31st, three months extra than the original June 30th deadline.
The extension meant UK licence holders could continue legally driving in Spain for an extra 92 days and that those who registered their intention to exchange their licences before December 30th 2020 – but hadn’t been able to get an appointment or complete the process – had extra time to do so.
According to the UK Embassy: “If you are one of the UK Nationals who successfully registered their intent to exchange their licence by December 30th 2020, as things stand, your UK licence will also become invalid for driving in Spain on October 31st, but you will still be eligible to exchange it for a Spanish one until December 31st 2021 without having to take a practical test”.
That means that those who registered their intent to exchange already have an extra three months in which to complete the process and get round the hold-ups and other bureaucratic issues they’ve been experiencing with the DGT.
But if there isn’t an extension to the validity of their UK licences, they won’t be able to drive in Spain after October 31st until they get a Spanish licence. Neither will UK residents in Spain with British licences who didn’t register their intent to exchange before December 30th 2020 and haven’t passed their Spanish licence yet.
This doesn’t apply to British tourists with UK licences visiting Spain who are for example renting a car during their holidays. The issues affect UK licence holders who are residents in Spain.
Unless Spain has a bilateral agreement with a third country for the recognition and exchange of licences, most non-EU driving licence holders have six months from their arrival in Spain to use their foreign licences.
After that, they have to sit theory and practical tests and get a Spanish licence from scratch.
Reactions to the Embassy’s post from Brits in Spain have been mixed, from those who said another extension is necessary due to Spanish traffic authorities’ “glacially slow” processing times, to others complaining that the UK makes the exchange process of EU licences easier, and even some saying Spain has already given enough extensions.
The Local Spain will cover any new extension or otherwise as soon as it is confirmed by UK and Spanish authorities.
“We recognise that many people are concerned about the long-term arrangements for UK driving licence exchange here in Spain,” the UK Embassy added.
“Negotiations continue between the UK and Spanish governments on this issue.
“However, under current Spanish law, residents with valid UK licences will only be able to use these to drive in Spain until October 31st 2021.
“In the meantime, UK licence holders could, if they wished to, apply for a Spanish licence,” the Embassy suggested, which although not conclusive, indicates that it’s better to plan ahead for the possibility that no agreement on driving licences will be met.