The British Embassy in Madrid confirmed authorities in Spain has extended the period of validity of UK driving licences in Spain for a third time. Talks over a licence exchange are to “conclude as soon as possible” but are “not there yet”. The UK Embassy in Madrid wrote in a Facebook post: “We are pleased to let you know that the Spanish Government has today confirmed the extension of the grace period during which you can drive in Spain using a valid UK licence until the end of February 2022.”
This is the latest extension Spain has provided UK licence holders since Britain formally left the European Union on January 1, 2021, and at that time, it meant their UK-issued documents became unrecognised by the common EU framework.
But in another post-Brexit blow, the new two-month grace period does not apply to UK licence holders who reside in Spain and registered their intent to exchange more time to do so at Spain’s DGT traffic authority, with that deadline still standing at December 31, 2021.
It does however apply to those who failed to register their intent to exchange more time to drive legally in Spain and potentially take their Spanish driving test as a safeguard or hope for a deal between the UK and Spain.
The Embassy headed by UK Ambassador to Spain Hugh Elliott warned: “We recognise that the extension is relatively short, and therefore it is important that – if it is imperative for you to drive – you consider all your options, which may include looking into taking a driving test now.”
An update was also provided on the latest talks between British and Spanish authorities, which the embassy are hopeful will be concluded as “soon as possible” but stressed they are not there yet.
It wrote: “As you know, the UK Government is committed to reaching a long-term agreement with Spain so that residents can exchange their UK driving licences without taking a test.
“Negotiations are continuing and we stand ready to conclude that agreement as soon as possible.
“But unfortunately we are not there yet.”
UK Ambassador to Spain, Mr Elliott, had earlier admitted in a video posted to Facebook that “many of you have also rightly pointed out that Spaniards resident in the UK are able to exchange their Spanish licence for a UK one without taking a practical test”.
British driving licence holders in the Mediterranean tourist hotspot are hopeful an agreement can finally be reached between the two sides to solve this latest post-Brexit problem for British expats.
But it is not yet clear if any agreement would benefit only British residents who are protected under the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement or other UK licence holders who moved to Spain to become residents after January 1, 2021.
Most non-EU driving licence holders usually only have six months from their arrival in Spain to use their foreign licences – unless Spain has a bilateral agreement in place with a third country for the recognition and exchange of licences.
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Following that period, they must take a theory and practical driving test to obtain a Spanish licence.
The post-Brexit issues affect UK licence holders who are residents in Spain and not to those with UK licences visiting Spain who are for example renting a car during their holidays.
This latest update comes after British residents in Italy received a welcome boost.
Authorities have now given those residing in their country another 12 months to continue using their UK driving licences there while they also continue talks with the British Government.