British motorists could be forced off roads under major driving licence changes today

A UK driving licence

Motorists can still exchange their licences after today's deadline but conditions apply

Felix Reeves

By Felix Reeves

Published: 15/09/2023

- 09:00

Expats living in Spain are being urged to take action sooner rather than later

British expats in Spain are being warned of major changes today with Britons potentially being forced off the road.

Both UK and Spanish authorities have been urging Britons living in Spain to exchange their DVLA-issued driving licences for a Spanish licence.

From September 15, British licences will no longer be considered valid for driving in Spain while a person waits for the driving licence exchange to be completed.

The UK and Spain entered into an agreement in March that would allow UK licence holders living in Spain to exchange their UK licence for a Spanish one.

A Spanish flag

Driving laws in Spain are changing today


This would have allowed them to do so without taking either a theory or practical test in Spain.

Both sides were clear that this was only a temporary, six-month measure, during which time motorists can drive with their UK licences on Spanish roads.

Now that the temporary exemption has ended, drivers are being warned about the conditions now face if they live in Spain.

Licences can still be exchanged after September 15 but British licences will no longer be valid for driving on Spanish roads while an applicant waits for the exchange to be completed.

Speaking to GB News, a DfT spokesperson, 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.”

UK licence holders who became a resident in Spain after March 15 will have six months from the date they obtained residency to exchange their UK licence.

The Brits in Spain embassy Facebook group has continually updated drivers and reminded them of the law changes, urging them to take action.

Hugh Elliott, the British Ambassador to Spain and Andorra, has also been urging motorists to update their details to ensure they can stay on the roads.

The changes will apply to those living in Spain with driving licences from the UK, Gibraltar, Jersey, Guernsey or the Isle of Man.

Some motorists have complained that the exchange of a British licence for a Spanish one has taken a long time, with people taking to social media to call on UK and Spanish authorities to address the issue.

Other drivers have highlighted how it is “impossible” to get an appointment to change their licences, and those who have managed to book an appointment are confused about which documents they need to bring.

The GOV.UK website warns that some older drivers in Spain have been experiencing problems when trying to exchange their licence after it has expired.


An International Driving Permit

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


The Department for Transport and Spain’s Traffic Authority (DGT) will be able to exchange expired UK licences, as long as they expired after they moved to Spain.

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

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