Spain extends UK driving licence validity until December 31st

The British Embassy in Madrid announced on Monday that Spanish authorities have again extended the period of validity of UK driving licences in Spain a further two months until December 31st 2021. 

The new extension gives thousands of UK driving licence holders in Spain more time to legally drive in the country. Photo: Emmanuel Acua/
The new extension gives thousands of UK driving licence holders in Spain more time to legally drive in the country. Photo: Emmanuel Acua/

“The Spanish government has announced that valid UK licences will continue to be recognised for driving in Spain until December 31st 2021,” The UK Embassy headed by ambassador Hugh Elliott wrote in a Facebook post on Monday evening.

The extension means UK licence holders who reside in Spain can continue legally driving in Spain for an extra 92 days.

This is the second extension Spain has given British licence holders since Brexit meant their UK-issued documents became unrecognised by the common EU framework, the first extension being announced in late June and which was due to end on October 31st.

In a previous post, the British Embassy wrote that “if you are one of the UK Nationals who successfully registered their intent to exchange their licence by December 30th 2020, you will still be eligible to exchange it for a Spanish one until December 31st 2021 without having to take a practical test”.

READ ALSO: Q&A – How to pass Spain’s driving test and get a Spanish licence

That means that those who registered their intent to exchange also have an extra two months in which to complete the process and get round the hold-ups and other bureaucratic issues they’ve been experiencing with the DGT, all while still being able to drive.

“We know that some people who tried to register their intent have subsequently found out that they were unsuccessful in doing so,” the British Embassy added.

“If this is your situation and you are unclear as to why, you should contact the DGT directly to discuss further.”

This new extension gives thousands of other Brits in Spain who didn’t register their intent to exchange some extra time to drive in the country and sit a Spanish driving test, as from 2022 they will need to be Spanish licence holders to drive here (unless there’s a third extension).

The Spanish government's announcement of the extension until December 31st of UK driving licence validity, as well as other transitional measures such as reciprocal health assistance and access to universities for the next academic year.
The Spanish government’s announcement of the extension of UK driving licence validity until December 31st, as well as other transitional measures such as reciprocal health assistance and access to universities for the next academic year.

“We continue to negotiate with the Spanish government about the long-term arrangements for the UK driving licence exchange,” the UK Embassy added with regard to a potential deal that would mean UK licences remained valid in Spain post-Brexit. 

“We understand the uncertainty around this issue is unsettling.

“If you want to take action now, you could, if you wished, apply for a Spanish licence. This includes taking both a practical and theory test. 

“We are aware that there are currently waiting lists to get a test appointment in some areas.

If you moved to Spain after January 1st 2021, your British driving licence is valid for six months from the date of your TIE or until December 31st, whichever date is later.

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.


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Reciprocal healthcare agreements between Spain and Gibraltar end

The Spanish government has confirmed that it will not extend its reciprocal healthcare agreements with Gibraltar, meaning that from July 1st 2022, it will come to an end.

Reciprocal healthcare agreements between Spain and Gibraltar end

When the UK left the EU on December 31st 2020, both sides agreed that the UK’s EHIC European healthcare cards could still be used until their expiry dates.

This card provided British travellers with free state-provided medical care in the EU in case of emergencies.

Beyond their five year period of validity, EHIC cards are no longer valid and travellers have to apply for the new Global Heath Insurance Card (GHIC) instead. 

Spain made a separate agreement with Gibraltar under its Royal Brexit Decree in which unilateral arrangements would be maintained in the territory and extended until June 30th 2022.

During the meeting of the Spanish Council of Ministers on Tuesday, the Spanish Government decided not to extend the agreement further, meaning that residents of Gibraltar will no longer be able to benefit from it.

In a statement the government of Gibraltar said: “It would have been HMGoG’s preference for these arrangements, which deeply affect citizens on either side of the border on matters as essential as healthcare, to have been maintained. Indeed, HMGoG was prepared to continue with them”.

“However, because reciprocity is a key element to these arrangements which cannot work without coordination and provisions for reimbursement of costs etc., HMGoG is left with no option but to discontinue them also in so far as treatment in Gibraltar is concerned,” it continued. 

What does this mean?

Gibraltar residents insured under Gibraltar’s Group Practice Medical Scheme will, after 30th June 2022, no longer be able to access free emergency healthcare in Spain during a temporary stay in the country. 

Those who are residents in Spain who travel over to Gibraltar will not have access to free healthcare on The Rock either. 

As a consequence, if a resident of Gibraltar falls ill or has an accident while over the border in Spain or the same for a Spanish resident in Gibraltar, they will have to pay for healthcare.

The government of Gibraltar is encouraging its citizens from July 1st 2022 to have appropriate travel insurance with medical cover each time they visit Spain.

This means that even those who are hopping over the border for few hours such as for a shopping trip or going out for dinner will have to make sure that they have adequate health insurance. 

“Where medical attention is required the costs incurred may be considerable, so you should ensure you have adequate insurance cover or alternatively the means to pay,” the Gibraltar government said in their statement.