British expats in Spain warned of driving licence law changes that could see them forced off roads

UK driving licence

Britons living in Spain are being warned of driving licence changes

Felix Reeves

By Felix Reeves

Published: 09/11/2023

- 12:42

Driving licence laws were overhauled in September

Expats in Spain are being warned of new driving law changes which could affect their ability to stay behind the wheel and on the road.

British drivers living in Spain, including the Balearic and Canary Islands, have been exposed to countless updates and law changes in recent months.

The Brits in Spain embassy Facebook page provided drivers and expats with Government updates and frequently called on motorists to take action.

When someone lives in Spain, they cannot renew or replace their UK, Gibraltar, Guernsey or Isle of Man driving licence, GOV.UK states.

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If a person has one of these licences, they can use it to drive for up to six months after becoming a resident in Spain.

To continue driving after the six month deadline, they must apply for a Spanish driving licence.

From March 16, 2023, they were able to drive using their valid UK or Gibraltar licence until September 15, 2023.

This was a temporary measure introduced after an agreement between the UK and Spanish Governments after Brexit.

A spokesperson for the Department for Transport told GB News that it had been working with Spanish authorities to help drivers.

Speaking previously, they said: “We have been supporting British citizens in Spain, and continue to support them, by ensuring they can move to their legally required Spanish licence without having to take an additional driving test.”

The GOV.UK website states that UK or Gibraltar licence holders who moved to Spain before March 16, 2023, and have not exchanged their licence may be forced off roads.

They will no longer be able to drive on their UK licence and will need to wait until the licence exchange has been completed.

For British expats moving to Spain after March 16, 2023, they can use their UK or Gibraltar licence for six months from the date they acquired residency.

British and Spanish authorities recommend they start the exchange process during this time.

If a driver has left it too long to sort their licence out, they can still exchange their licence after six months although their UK licence will not be valid for driving in Spain while waiting for the exchange to be completed.

Some drivers reported having issues when trying to exchange their driving licences, primarily those over 70 years of age.

The Brits in Spain Facebook page said Spain’s Traffic Authority (Dirección General de Tráfico) would be able to exchange expired licences as long as they expired after the individual moved to Spain.

Drivers can receive a digital “check code” to enable the Spanish Department for Transport to verify these licences, which is available on the GOV.UK website.


International Driving Permit

International Driving Permits are not valid


Motorists cannot use an International Driving Permit (IDP) instead of a Spanish licence.

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