The UK's withdrawal from the European Union (a process known as Brexit) continues to have practical consequences for British citizens. Now, a new impediment is added to the existing ones for those who live in Spain permanently.
As of yesterday (1 May), those citizens of the United Kingdom who have been living in Spain for more than 6 months will have to exchange their original British driving license for a Spanish one if they want to continue driving on Spanish roads. Otherwise, they risk being fined.
The reason for this is the end of the exception period decreed by the Spanish Government in 2020 and later extended, which allowed the use of the British driving permit.
The Spanish authorities emphasize that this measure does not affect British citizens visiting Spain for short periods, such as tourists or staff temporarily present in the country for work. In both cases, they will be able to use their British driving licence.
The new regulation affects those who live in Spain permanently.
The Spanish General Directorate of Traffic (DGT) explains it this way: "After the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union and the end of the transitional period, Royal Decree Law 38/2020 extended the authorization for British driving licenses until 30 April 2022. Consequently, valid driving licenses issued by the British authorities will enable their holders to drive in our country until that date."
The UK, a 'third country'
From 1 May, the legal scheme that regulates the use of driving licenses issued by the British authorities will be the same as that provided for licenses issued in the so-called 'third countries': they will only be valid for driving during a period of six months from the entry of its owner in Spain or from the date of obtaining their legal residence.
According to the DGT, holders of a British driving license who have applied for exchange, replacement or renewal before 31 December 2020, will be processed provided that they have been verified by the UK authorities before 1 January 2021.
"If you did not request the exchange before 31 December 2020, you will have to obtain a new Spanish driving license," the DGT emphasizes on its website.