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REVEALED: UK drivers in Spain face 'new problem' when taking Spanish driving test

Alex Dunham
Alex Dunham - [email protected]
REVEALED: UK drivers in Spain face 'new problem' when taking Spanish driving test
New Spanish licence holders will be viewed as learners even if they have years of driving experience in their home or other countries. Photo: ITV

In the event that an exchange deal cannot be reached, UK licence holders who sit their driving exams again in Spain will face higher costs or even the impossibility of driving. 


If you’re reading this article, there’s a high chance that you’re familiar with the background of this Brexit consequence. 

Thousands of UK driving licence holders (that includes UK nationals, Spaniards and other foreign nationals) who have been residents in Spain for more than six months have not been allowed to drive on Spanish roads since May 1st 2022

The failure of the UK and Spanish governments to reach a deal over the exchange of UK-issued licences for Spanish ones means that, as things stand, the only way affected people can get behind the wheel once more is by passing their driving exam again in Spain. 


There was the option of registering intent to exchange licences but many didn’t make the deadline, and as has been proven before, in many cases this was not due to slackness, but rather all manner of circumstances, from moving to Spain after the cut-off date to bureaucratic issues.

READ MORE: 'An avoidable nightmare' - How UK licence holders in Spain are affected by driving debacle

On June 20th, the British Ambassador to Spain said that they were looking at having affected drivers “back on the road around the end of July”

But during his latest weekly update on July 15th, this prospective date was not mentioned and judging by his tone there is little to suggest the driving licence debacle will be fixed before Spain ‘closes down’ for August.

Some of these in-limbo drivers are now deciding to bite the bullet and sit their driving exams in Spanish (at least the practical part, that is).

But there is one other major downside which many may have not considered before. 

If and when they pass, these often seasoned drivers are considered learner drivers (conductores noveles) in the eyes of Spain’s DGT. 

Aside from having to put an L sign in their rear window, they will be viewed as learners when it comes to taking out insurance for the vehicles they purchase or when they rent a car in Spain.

It’s a catch-22 situation that many young drivers face in Spain, as well as other non-EU drivers whose foreign licences aren’t recognised in Spain and have to resit the test.


Insurance companies and car rental companies are private entities, and thus are under no obligation to offer their services to people with a new Spanish driving licence. 

It’s compulsory to have third-party insurance when owning a car in Spain (responsabilidad civil), but many insurance companies either don’t offer insurance to these ‘higher-risk’ drivers or charge far higher rates. 

They don’t factor in any previous years of experience these drivers have in their home or other countries as they are considered novice drivers in Spain. 

Other drivers with a new Spanish driving licence complain that insurance companies refuse to offer them a no-claim discount, which is a reduction in the cost of your car insurance if you don’t make a claim. 

According to Spanish price comparison website Rastreator, it is possible to find third-party insurance for learner drivers for less than €400 per year, although for more comprehensive insurance (a todo riesgo), prices can reach up to €1,800 per year.

As for renting a vehicle from a rental car company in Spain, a similar dilemma arises. 

Some car rental car companies have the policy of not renting out a vehicle to drivers with a Spanish licence less than two years old.

Again, as both car insurance and car rental companies are private, each has its own set of conditions, meaning that it will be a case of having to phone around and find out if - and for how much - insuring or renting a vehicle is possible. 

It is also unclear currently whether UK licence holders who own a car in Spain which was insured prior to May 1st 2022 will be able to continue being insured or enjoying the same rates as they did previously when they get a Spanish licence. 

This is the latest unforeseen consequence of Brexit for UK nationals living in Spain, and another example of why they feel they have fewer rights than British tourists visiting the country. 

Have you experienced any of these or other related issues when getting your Spanish driving licence? Write to us at [email protected] to have your say.


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