UK expats can use driving licences in Spain without a new test

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UK and Spanish authorities have finally agreed on a solution to the months-long stalemate around the validity of British driving licences, which have caused some to lose out on work and even miss hospital appointments. Thousands of British expats will now be able to use their DVLA-issued driving licences in Spain without needing to retake their tests.

If someone was living in Spain before March 16, 2023, they can use their valid UK or Gibraltar driving licence to drive in Spain for six months.

Anyone who moves to Spain on or after March 16, 2023, will be able to use their UK or Gibraltar licence for six months from the date they obtained residence.

Someone with a UK or Gibraltar licence can exchange their driving licence for a Spanish one without taking a practical or theory test. 

They should aim to do this within six months from March 16, 2023, or within six months of the date they obtain their residence, whichever is later.

After this time their UK or Gibraltar driving licence will no longer be valid for driving in Spain. 

However, drivers will still be able to exchange their licence for a valid Spanish one.

If someone holds a licence from Jersey, Guernsey or the Isle of Man, they cannot currently exchange this for a Spanish licence. 

They must apply for a Spanish licence as a non-EU national to drive in Spain, which involves taking both a theory and practical driving test.

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Hugh Elliott, UK Ambassador to Spain, posted to the Brits in Spain Embassy Facebook page to update expats on the new rules.

He said he was pleased to confirm that the agreement to enable UK licence holders to drive in Spain had been approved by Spain’s Consejo de Ministros (Ministers Cabinet).

Mr Elliott added: “I know this process has taken a lot longer than we would all have liked and has been very difficult for many of you.

“I’m really grateful to you for your forbearance during that process, and to all of you who have remained courteous with us in your criticisms.

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“Finally, I’d like to say a thank you to everyone on the Spanish side and the UK side who’s worked on this negotiation.

“And a particular thank you to my own team in the embassy here in Spain who have been working every day on this for very many months. Thank you.”

As soon as the booking system is available through the DGT (Spanish Department for Traffic) website, drivers should get an appointment to change their licence.

The Embassy confirmed that it would hold a Facebook Live stream later in March to answer some questions from expats.

Many in the comments expressed their relief at the announcement, thanking Mr Elliott and the Embassy staff for confirming the window of opportunity.

One commenter, Adrian Leitch, said: “Don’t know what all the whinging is about.

“If you were here pre-Brexit you had the opportunity to exchange your licence. If here post-Brexit you knew the situation in regard to licences.

“Thank you to the Embassy staff. Now let’s get on with why we moved over here – having fun.”

Another commenter, Liz Carter, added: “At last, what a relief. It’s been a very long 10 and a half months.”

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