BREXIT: Spain extends validity of UK driving licences until October 31st 2021

BREXIT: Spain extends validity of UK driving licences until October 31st 2021
Photo: M.R./Unsplash
Spanish authorities have extended the validity of UK driving licences in Spain for an extra four months, giving more British drivers in Spain the opportunity to complete their exchange for a Spanish one in time or sit their Spanish driving test before the deadline. 

The Spanish government on Tuesday announced it would extend the validity of UK driving licences in Spain post Brexit until October 31st 2021 rather than the previous deadline of June 30th. 

The UK Embassy in Madrid shared the news on its Facebook page on Wednesday, saying: “We know that many of you have been anxious that the recognition of UK driving licences was set to end on June 30th. 

“We are pleased that the Spanish Government yesterday announced that UK licences will continue to be recognised until October 31st 2021 for those of you who were resident in Spain before December 31st 2020 – even if you did not get your residency document until after the end of the Transition Period. 

“This extension applies whether you registered your intention to exchange your licence with the DGT before December 30th 2020 or not. 

If you want to read the Spanish government’s announcement in English, click here

“Please note that if you arrived after January 1st 2021, your licence will only remain valid for six months from your arrival in Spain.

“This does not affect the current arrangements for driving licence exchange. 

“If you did not register to exchange your licence with the DGT before 30 December 2020 and wish to exchange your UK driving licence now, you would need to follow the DGT process for non-EU nationals, which includes taking a driving test. 

“However, negotiations are underway between the UK and Spanish Governments on arrangements for the future exchange of UK driving licences without the need for a practical test. As soon as we have further information on this we will share it here.” 

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What does this really mean for British driving licence holders in Spain?

  • If you’re a resident who registered your intent to exchange your British licence for a Spanish one before December 30th 2020 but this exchange hasn’t been processed due to backlogs at Spain’s DGT traffic authority, you have more time to continue using your UK licence in Spain while the exchange is carried out. 

  • If you’re a beneficiary of the Withdrawal Agreement and you registered your intent for the licence exchange before December 30th but you haven’t received the carta de resolución for the new TIE card (results letter for approval of residency) which you need for the exchange, you also have more time to continue using your UK licence while both these processes are being completed.

  • If you’re a British licence holder who didn’t register your intention to exchange your licence for a Spanish one before the end of 2020, you have an extra three months during which to drive with your UK licence in Spain and take your Spanish driving test to be able to continue driving in Spain after the new deadline has passed. In essence, it gives you more time to plan ahead and avoid a limbo period where you can’t drive in Spain. 

“It’s good for those who only had until June 30th, but even so, if they hadn’t registered their intent to exchange before December 30th 2020, then unless there is another extension their UK licence ceases to be valid thereafter,” Anne Hernández, the head of rights group Brexpats in Spain, told The Local. 

“We hope it’s the start of things to come because to register intent one needed a NIE which those newbies awaiting their TIE residency card did not have so it rather discriminated against them.

“We must make this clear. All this announcement means is that Brits now have until October 31st to take their driving test. If they didn’t start the process before December 31st, they can’t exchange. 

“They’re still discussing arrangements for exchanges, but who knows if they’ll sign something before October 31st?

“We’re still hoping they agree to something eventually but we might end up with a series of three month extensions!

“At least it’s good news though that these UK drivers will not be driving illegally until November 1st.”

As mentioned earlier, the usual deadline for non-EU licence holders to be allowed to drive in Spain is six months from the day they arrive.

After half a year in Spain, they have to get a Spanish licence or they won’t be legally allowed to drive in the Spanish territory. But for Brits who are beneficiaries of the Withdrawal Agreement, their status is not considered non-EU.

“There are two types of British residents, Hernández told The Local.

“Those who are beneficiaries of the Withdrawal Agreement and those who are not, the latter are third country nationals and can drive for six months from the date of arrival on a UK licence. The residents with a TIE as beneficiaries can drive until October 31st.

Spanish authorities also announced in late May 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. 

“If the TIE beneficiaries pregistered before December 31st 2020, they have until December 31st 2021 to exchange, but can only drive until October 31st,” the Brexpats in Spain head concluded.

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Member comments

  1. On the 20th December 2020, I called the registration line and was told it was all sorted and I would get a confirmation number via email.
    I never received that.
    I tried calling back and did get a few return messages, but on eventually getting through, the new call handler couldn’t find me on their system. Is there any way of checking whether the first call handler actually processed my registration?

  2. > The usual deadline for non-EU licence holders to be allowed to drive in Spain is
    > six months from the day that they arrive.

    Does this apply for each “day of arrival” if each stay is less than six months?

    > There are two types of British residents, Hernández told The Local.
    a) Those who are beneficiaries of the Withdrawal Agreement
    b) those who are not,

    Only SOME of those placed by Anne Hernandez in the second group are actual
    third country nationals – and so definitely limited to six months driving on a UK
    licence from the date of arrival in Spain.

    The situation still seems unclear for others in her second group who have a UK
    licence but are NOT “third country nationals”. These are people resident in UK
    and holding the nationality of a UK member state (thus having no restriction on
    their time in Spain as they hold EU citizenship). Under the residency tests of each
    of Spain and UK it is possible to be “ordinarily resident” in BOTH countries.

    Will the UK driving licences of this group be recognised in Spain with a new
    six-month allowance for each arrival, from UK or elsewhere, into Spain?

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