Hugh Elliot, who is the UK Ambassador to Spain posted a Facebook video on Friday confirming that British licence holders who live in Spain, will no longer be able to drive legally on Spanish roads.
He said, ”If you have been resident in Spain for longer than six months, your UK-issued licence will no longer be valid to drive here from May 1st (2022).”
The British and Spanish authorities are still negotiating and have agreed to ‘rapidly accelerate’ talks this week in the hope of reaching an agreement soon. Mr Elliot said “We’re not there just yet. And we will not have reached an agreement in time for the end of the current grace period (April 30th).”
Talking to The Local Spain, the UK Embassy in Madrid said that “The majority of UK licence holders in Spain registered their intent to exchange, as they were advised to, before December 31st 2020, they are therefore unaffected.”
The Embassy stated that this news will primarily affect three groups of people:-
The Embassy also pointed out that “This also applies to Gibraltar licence holders who are resident in Spain.”
As negotiations are ongoing, the Embassy has stipulated that it is important for anyone who still drives on a UK driving licence, to start preparations to get a Spanish licence,
“If you are affected by this change and need to drive, you should not wait for the outcome of the negotiations and should take immediate steps to apply for a Spanish licence – as we have been advising for some time now,” they stated on the Facebook group Brits in Spain.
They stressed that “Driving a vehicle without a valid licence is illegal in Spain.”
According to road law CON 001 1 5B, driving on a UK licence from May 1, 2022, could result in a fine of 200 euros being issued, if you are stopped by Spanish police.
So why have negotiations taken so long?
The UK Embassy said that “Every negotiation is different. The UK Government asked the Spanish Government for an extension in early April but unfortunately this has not been possible.
“We are continuing negotiations at pace and are asking for interim measures to be put in place by the Spanish, to minimise the disruption on UK licence holders.”
The UK has reached successful agreements over reciprocal driving licence recognition and mutual exchange of licences with a large majority of EU nations.
However, “In this instance, Spain has asked for data provision to form part of the agreement.
“This was not requested by other EU Member States and is part of Spain’s nationwide ambition to improve road safety. As such, this has naturally taken more time than all the other agreements which the UK has been able to complete” the Embassy concluded.
It is worth noting that this announcement does not affect UK licence holders who have just moved to Spain and are in their first six months of residency or motorists visiting from the UK or Gibraltar.