If British expats missed the post Brexit deadline of 31 December 2020 to exchange their British driving license for a Spanish one, they are in serious trouble effective 1 May 2022. On that date, the negotiations broke down between the Spanish and the British government to come to an agreement to allow British expats to swap driving licenses.
The result is that as of now, British expats who have been resident in Spain for more than six months are banned from driving in Spain with a UK license.
The respective governments assure that this is only a temporary measure, but no here knows how temporary. It could be weeks; it could be months.
The only highlight is that tourists and visitors who stay less than 90 days in the country are exempt from this ban and can continue to drive with their UK License. Everybody else is strongly advised to get a Spanish diving license as soon as possible if they want to get back behind the wheel.
However, this is easier said than done.
Not only is the procedure with the Directorate-General for Traffic time consuming,it is also hideously expensive. Spain is the ninth most costly country to obtain a local driving license in the world.
Here is a breakdown of what it will set you back and the stages you have to get through:
• The application costs 94.05 euros plus 35 euros for a mandatory physical test.
• You have to take a theory test that can be conducted in English, but the practical test can only be taken in Spanish. If you are not fluent you will not be able to understand what your driving instructor tells you and the lessons are futile. So, add language classes to the overall costs.
• The fee for the license comes to 99.70 euros, but that is not all. You will also have to enroll in a driving school and take lessons, regardless your driving experience. The school costs approximately 200 euros and each individual lesson of 45 minutes costs an additional 25 euros.
There is more than a bit of politics at work in all this. Spain is basically holding UK license reciprocity hostage in order to get the UK to share data bases that will allow Spanish officials to track down and fine Brits who speed and commit other traffic offenses after they return home, according to media reports. The Brits counter that no other country in Europe has access to those data bases, so a compromise is unlikely at this point.
After Brexit, the UK has little leverage, while the Spanish control the fates of the estimated 370,000 British expat living there.
All in all, one can only hope, that an agreement to swap the licenses will be reached sooner rather than later before expats who wish (or need ) to drive go broke.
About the author:
Inka Piegsa-Quischotte is an international attorney-turned-travel-and-lifestyle writer based in Spain. She has contributed to BBC/Travel, several in-flight magazines, TripSavvy (Spain) and TravelAwaits, among many other publications. After several years in Turkey, she now lives on Spain’s Costa Blanca.
Read more about Spain in our Dispatches archive here.
Inka Piegsa-Quischotte is an international attorney-turned-travel and lifestyle writer based in Spain. She has contributed to BBC/Travel, several in-flight magazines, TripSavvy (Spain) and TravelAwaits among many other publications.