British expats urged to ditch UK driving licences before law changes in Spain next month

A driving licence

Drivers are being urged to exchange their licences if they live in Spain

Felix Reeves

By Felix Reeves

Published: 21/08/2023

- 12:59

British motorists will see major changes to their driving licences if they live in Spain next month

The UK Government and Spanish authorities were locked in tense negotiations over the last few years following Brexit in a bid to clarify issues around driving licences.

New guidance was unveiled earlier this year allowing motorists to trade in their UK-issued driving licences in exchange for a Spanish licence.

This was done to ensure that road users could continue to drive in the country without needing to take a Spanish driving test.

However, from next month, owners of UK driving licences in Spain will have to adapt to new rules.

An International Driving Permit

Drivers cannot use an International Driving Permit


From March 16, 2023, British citizens living in Spain can drive in the country using a valid UK or Gibraltar licence until September 15.

The Department for Transport acknowledges that this is a temporary measure agreed between the UK and Spanish authorities.

Any UK expats living in Spain cannot renew or replace their UK, Gibraltar, Jersey, Guernsey or Isle of Man driving licence, the GOV.UK states.

Drivers have been continually reminded of the changes to their licences with the Brits in Spain Facebook group urging drivers to consider their actions.

The page, which has more than 86,000 followers, warned drivers that they could face issues if they do not adhere to advice about their licences.

It stated: “If you lived in Spain before March 16, 2023, you can only drive on your UK licence until September 16, 2023.

“If you need to keep driving here, please exchange your UK licence for a Spanish one as soon as possible.”

If someone moves to Spain after March 16, 2023, they can drive using their valid UK or Gibraltar licence for six months from the date they acquire residency.

The Government advises drivers to start the process of exchanging their UK-issued licence for a Spanish one during that period of time.

Hugh Elliott, the British ambassador to Spain, hosted a Facebook Live discussion reminding drivers to ensure they have made a change.

He said that drivers should spread the word using the Brits in Spain Facebook group, as well as referring to the Living in Spain Guide on the GOV.UK website.

The GOV.UK website states that drivers cannot use an International Driving Permit (IDP) instead of a Spanish licence.


A UK motorway

Drivers bringing UK-registered cars to Spain may have to pay taxes


Anyone wanting to bring a UK-registered vehicle to Spain must register the vehicle with the Spanish authorities and they may need to pay some taxes.

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