The UK government has warned expats living in Spain and other parts of Europe that they may be forced to retake their driving tests in the event that there is a no-deal Brexit.
Under current reciprocal arrangements, expats living in Spain and other European countries are able to exchange their UK driving licences for an equivalent EU/EEA country licence.
Under current Spanish law, you have to exchange your driving licence within two years of arrival if you plan on living in the country. More info here.
However, in the event of a no-deal Brexit it is believed that the licence exchange agreement will no longer be available after the 29th of March 2019.
There is currently thought to be at least 500,000 British citizens living in the EU. Any British drivers living in the EU who have not already exchanged their UK driving licence, may be unable to drive in their new adopted country after the 29th of March if there is a no-deal.
This would mean that drivers would need to sit and pass their driving test in the EU country where they now live in order to continue driving there.
The government has stressed the need for expats living abroad to act fast and exchange their driving licences immediately in order to avoid delays and the possible requirement to resit their driving tests abroad.
In a recent statement, Edmund King, AA president, said: “Thousands of ex-pats, many of them elderly, will not relish the prospect of having to re-take their driving test in a different country and different language if there is no deal,”.
Brits Travelling to the EU
But it’s not only expats living in Europe that will be affected. Those wishing to drive in the EU while on holiday may also need to obtain and IDP (International Driving Permit) if they wish to drive in Europe, post Brexit.
The government also warned that any drivers that did not have the correct IDP before travelling, may be turned around at the ports.
IDP’s are valid for 12 months and cost £5.50. They are current available to purchase online via the AA website, however from the 1st of February this will change meaning that you will only be able to purchase an IDP over the counter from one of the 2,500 UK Post Offices.
There are number of different IDP’s, which are available and the one you will require will depend on which convention the country you are travelling to uses.
The 1949 IDP covers you when travelling to Spain, Iceland, Ireland, Malta and Cyprus
The 1968 IDP covers you in most other EU countries including Switzerland and Norway.
If wishing to drive in Lichtenstein, you will need the 1926 IDP.
Edmund King of the AA said, “Drivers without the appropriate IDPs could also be turned back at the ports. Currently they could obtain an IDP from the AA shop at the Eurotunnel port but that won’t be allowed after the end of this month.”
If you haven’t already exchanged your UK driving licence, take action now!
Official guidance from the UK government on driving in the EU after Brexit can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/prepare-to-drive-in-the-eu-after-brexit
January 14, 2021