The clock is ticking for British residents in Spain, as today, September 15 is the deadline for exchanging their UK driving licences for Spanish ones. Failure to do so could result in legal complications, rendering them unable to drive their vehicles legally on Spanish roads.
This deadline represents the culmination of several years of intense negotiations following the UK's departure from the European Union. Both the UK Government and Spanish authorities have been working diligently to clarify various issues surrounding driving licences.
Earlier this year, a significant development occurred when a new directive was introduced. This directive allowed individuals holding UK-issued driving licences to exchange them for Spanish ones, eliminating the need for them to undergo a Spanish driving examination.
Starting from March 16, 2023, British nationals residing in Spain were granted temporary permission to use their valid UK or Gibraltar driving licences until September 15. This arrangement, confirmed by the Department for Transport, was a short-term solution mutually agreed upon by UK and Spanish officials.
It is important to note that British expatriates living in Spain currently cannot renew or replace their driving licences issued by the UK, Gibraltar, Jersey, Guernsey, or the Isle of Man.
The 'Brits in Spain' Facebook group has been actively urging British expatriates to take immediate action. They emphasise that if you lived in Spain before March 16, 2023, you can only drive on your UK licence until September 16, 2023, and they strongly encouraged exchanging your UK licence for a Spanish one as soon as possible.
For those who relocated to Spain after March 16, 2023, there was a grace period of six months from the date of residency establishment during which they can continue driving with their valid UK or Gibraltar licences. The government recommends initiating the process of exchanging their UK-issued licence for a Spanish one during this window.
British Ambassador to Spain, Hugh Elliott, conducted a Facebook Live session to underscore the significance of this change. He urged drivers to share this critical information via the 'Brits in Spain' Facebook group and directed them to the 'Living in Spain Guide' available on the GOV.UK website.
The Spanish Government administration has clarified that during the exchange process, the original licence is replaced with an equivalent Spanish licence. A provisional licence is issued during the procedure, and the definitive licence is expected to arrive in approximately one-and-a-half months. Importantly, there is no need for individuals to visit a police station or DGT office, as the new licence will be mailed directly to their homes.
As the deadline has arrived, British expats in Spain have been strongly advised to take prompt action to secure their right to drive legally on Spanish roads. The exchange process is straightforward, and compliance with this requirement will help them avoid any potential legal complications. Don't delay; act now to ensure continued driving privileges in Spain!
Image Credit: Brits In Spain
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