British embassy hails new UK-Spain driving licence deal

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.

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

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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The companies that insure young drivers in Spain

Like in many countries, insuring new drivers can be expensive in Spain and some companies even refuse to take the risk on younger people behind the wheel. Here are the different types of cover and companies that insure young drivers in Spain.

The companies that insure young drivers in Spain

Learning to drive and hitting the road for the first time can be an exciting time for many young people.

Finding car insurance as a new or learner driver, however, can be pretty difficult and often incredibly pricey. This is true the world over, and in Spain it is no different.

In fact, some insurers simply won’t take the risk and refuse to offer coverage to drivers under 25 years of age. For those that do, premiums are almost always much more expensive and can make driving unaffordable. 

But perhaps this is with good reason. The data shows that novice drivers behind the wheel are more likely to suffer an accident – in some cases twice as likely.

READ ALSO – UK driving licence deal: How to exchange yours for a Spanish one 

According to a study by PONLE FRENO-AXA Road Safety Study Centre, the very youngest drivers in Spain are twice as likely to have an accident compared to the average driver. Drivers under the age of 22 have an accident frequency of 29 percent and young people aged 22 between 25 have a frequency of 25 percent, compared to 14.2 percent among other drivers.

It is worth noting that in Spain, the only place to (legally) learn to drive is with an official instructor at the ‘autoescuela‘. That is to say, unlike in other countries, learning to drive with a parent or older sibling is actually illegal, so there’s no ‘learner’s insurance’ available.

You can drive from age 18 in Spain, but last year, the DGT also announced a new type of licence for those from age 16. This is the B1 driving licence for electric vehicles with a maximum speed of 90 km/h and a maximum weight of 400 kg.


There are different types of insurance in Spain, ranging from the basic third-party to fully-comprehensive insurance, and then there’s the question of whether you want to be the named driver on the policy or simply added to someone else’s (likely your parent’s).

Of course, prices vary between companies, ranging from third-party insurance for less than €400 a year, whereas fully-comprehensive cover can cost more than €2,000 per year for a new driver.

Finding a fair (and affordable) policy can be a real head-scratcher, especially in a foreign language.

The Local has broken down everything you need to know below.

Different types of insurance 

Among the types of car insurance for new drivers in Spain, there are generally three types that you’re more than likely already familiar with – third party (terceros básico), extended third party (terceros ampliado) and fully comprehensive cover (seguro a todo riesgo).

  • Third-party insurance (terceros básico): this is the cheapest type and therefore often the most popular with learners and new drivers. This is the most basic type of cover and insures you against damage caused and against other people and cars.
  • Extended third-party (terceros ampliado): offers the same basic cover as third-party insurance, but is usually extended with protection against glass breakage, fire and theft. 
  • Fully comprehensive (seguro a todo riesgo): the most complete type of car insurance, with damage to your own vehicle covered. However, it is rarely suitable for novice drivers as premiums can be pretty pricey. 

Regular or occasional driver?

As a new driver, you have two fundamental options when it comes to taking out your car insurance in Spain.

The first is to be named as the regular or main driver (conductor principal) on your own insurance policy. This is undoubtedly the most expensive option, but also offers the most complete coverage since you will be fully protected against any type of mishap you may have at the wheel, however big or small, and you’ll be able to accrue your own no-claims bonuses and reduce your insurance premium over time.

The second is to be named as an ‘occasional driver’ (conductor occasional) on someone else’s insurance policy. This is incredibly common in Spain, as it is in many other countries. In this case, usually, an older relative with experience behind the wheel (and several years of no-claims bonuses) will be listed as the regular driver of the car, so the price of the policy will be lower.

Despite this, finding an insurer willing to cover a younger driver isn’t always easy.

Companies that insure younger drivers

Here’s a list we’ve put together of some of the cheapest companies that insure new drivers in Spain on both terceros básico and terceros ampliado offers.

Third-party insurance (terceros básico) 

  • Balumba: For around €300 a year you get basic coverage for Compulsory Civil Liability, free garage choice and travel assistance.
  • Drive & Win: For around €500 a year, Drive & Win offers Compulsory Civil Liability and travel assistance. 
  • Qualitas Auto: for less than €300 a year, it is possible to take out this insurance with the basic coverage of one to third parties, in addition to the free choice of a garage for repairs. 

Extended third-party (terceros ampliado)

According to price comparison site, the best companies (approximate price estimates) for extended third-party coverage are:

  • Qualitas Auto: €321
  • Balumba: €337
  • MAPFRE: €608

What if nobody will insure me?

It is possible that nobody will insure a newly qualified driver.

But fear not, there is another option. You can get coverage with Spain’s Consorcio de Compensación de Seguros (Insurance Compensation Consortium), which is part of the Ministry of Economy and offers civil liability coverage.