For British expats in Spain as well as UK drivers across the EU, British driving licences may no longer be valid after Brexit. This would mean that expats in Spain without a Spanish driving licence could be banned from driving.
Without an agreement in place after Brexit, both driving licences and vehicle registration documents from the UK will no longer be recognised in the EU. This means drivers could be banned and their cars will be considered unregistered and will be illegal to use. As well as affecting expats, this will mean that British holidaymakers may need a special permit to hire a car throughout the EU known as an IDP or International Driving Permit.
What Can Expats Do?
While there is no agreement in place yet, expats in Spain are urged to obtain a Spanish driving licence before the cut-off date for Brexit on the 29th March 2019. At the moment, a Spanish licence is required for expats after two years of residence, but for those who have recently moved, they need to be aware that their UK licences may become invalid after Brexit and it is best to apply now. For expats, starting this process early is essential as the procedure can be difficult and time-consuming due to the bureaucracy in Spain.
What is Required for a Spanish Driving Licence?
Applications for a Spanish driving licence are best to be applied for well ahead of Brexit as it can take a few months or more to complete. In order to exchange your licence you will need to:-
Once you have completed your medical and made an appointment at the DGT, you will be given a temporary licence to cover you while the DGT confirms your information with the DVLA in the UK. Once this has been confirmed you will be contacted by the DGT to attend another appointment so that you can collect your new Spanish driving licence, with all of your existing entitlements carried over.
Further information on exchanging your UK Driving licence for a Spanish one can be viewed at https://www.healthplanspain.com/blog/spain-news/360-expats-in-spain-must-renew-driving-licences-after-two-years.html
For more details on Spanish driving tests see this page http://www.healthplanspain.com/blog/expat-tips/479-taking-a-driving-test-in-spain.html
What About Holidaymakers?
While no decision has been put in place yet, it is likely that Britons who want to drive in the EU will have to obtain an International Driving Permit as well as their UK driving licence. This is used in some countries already and may be extended to the EU after Brexit.
The International Driving Permit lasts for one year and must be obtained within three months in advance of using it. Fortunately, the permit does not require any further tests. Instead, you need;
You can complete your application at a local Post Office in the UK or the AA's Eurotunnel shop.
What Should I Do Now?
If you are an expat in the EU, it is best to apply for the driving licence of that country now and register your vehicle, well in advance of the deadline. If you're in the UK, but plan to drive frequently in the EU after Brexit, make sure you stay aware of the rules and changes to the law so that you can be prepared before the cut-off date.
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Updated: March 06, 2023 CET