British embassy hails new UK-Spain driving licence deal

The Local Spain
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British embassy hails new UK-Spain driving licence deal
Spain approves UK driving licence deal. Photo: Jenny Ueberberg / Unsplash

After 10 months of not being able to drive on Spanish roads, the wait is over for UK licence holders residing in Spain. The Interior Ministry has confirmed they will be able to exchange their licences and drive from Thursday March 16th.


Spain’s Cabinet on Tuesday finally approved an agreement between Spain and the UK regarding the exchange of UK driving licences, as well as driver information on traffic offences and road safety.

Since May 1st 2022, an unknown number of the approximately 400,000 UK nationals who are residents in Spain, as well as hundreds if not thousands of Spaniards and foreign nationals who passed their driving test in the UK, have not been able to use their vehicles in Spain or even rent one. 

British Ambassador to Spain, Hugh Elliott said: “I am delighted that these negotiations have come to an end and UK licence holders will now be able to exchange their UK licence for a Spanish one without having to take a driving test."


This agreement, which has also been confirmed by Spain's Interior Ministry, puts an end to the frustrating and very limiting situation many UK licence holders found themselves in, having not been able to exchange their licences for Spanish ones before the previous deadline.

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

From March 16th 2023 onwards, holders of a valid and current driving licence issued by either Spain or the UK may request to exchange it, depending on their residency, without being subject to any additional requirement such as a practical or theory test.

The agreement establishes that all valid permits or licences of current residents issued prior to this agreement coming into force may be exchanged. For permits issued after the deal comes into force, drivers will be required to exchange the licences that were issued in the country where they had their legal residency.

This means that British citizens residing in Spain who had not had their driving licences recognised before Brexit, nor in the successive extensions granted, will be able to do so as of Thursday, March 16th.

Elliott updated UK licence holders in a video message after the agreement was approved by the Spanish Cabinet on Tuesday.

In order to make the process easier, the provincial traffic headquarters have granted a period of six months, during which British citizens can drive in Spain with their original permit while they undergo the process of exchanging it.  

Spain and the UK have also agreed to provide each other with information on the data of the vehicles and their owners for the purpose of investigating traffic offences related to road safety, especially in cases of speeding, not wearing a seat belt, failure to stop at a red light, driving while intoxicated, driving under the influence of drugs, not wearing a crash helmet, driving in a prohibited lane, or illegal use of mobile phones

Spain was the last EU country to reach a driving licence deal with the UK post-Brexit after more than two years of negotiations, several extensions and countless updates from the British Embassy in Madrid.


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