Last updated: 22nd February 2022
As most readers will be aware, the Spanish government entered into negotiations with the UK back in early 2021 with a view to reaching an agreement for both countries to continue accepting each other’s driving licences for both residents and visitors, as was the case before Brexit. Whilst those negotiations continue, Spain has already twice extended the period for acceptance of UK licences for residents in Spain.
The latest extension now runs until Monday 28th February 2022 (for any UK national who filed an application for Residency in Spain BEFORE 31st December 2020). However, if those negotiations are successful, it is anticipated that Spain and UK will accept each other’s licences indefinitely, just as they used to do before Brexit. We will issue an update as soon as there is further news.
Many UK nationals resident in Spain have questioned why the negotiations are taking so long. It should be noted that the EU has no official say or veto over the above rules or negotiations. Such reciprocal licence agreements have always been, and continue to be, a private diplomatic matter between the countries concerned. An example of this is the agreement Spain has with the USA for reciprocal driving licence use., However, it is suspected that the EU is exerting pressure on Spain and other EU countries to delay all such negotiations as a retaliatory response to Brexit. Sadly, it is Spain itself that will suffer most from any such approach.
Fortunately for Spaniards resident in the UK, the UK has been far more generous in response. EU licence holders who are resident in the UK have already been granted a guaranteed period of 5 years before they are required to change their licences to a UK licence (or indefinitely, if a bilateral agreement is now reached). Spain has so far declined to comment on the discrepancy.
For any UK nationals resident in Spain who do not want to wait until the outcome of the negotiations and who now feel compelled to change to a Spanish licence (and who were not able to officially ‘register’ their rights to change to a Spanish licence before the 31st December 2020 deadline) , the only option available is to sit a full Spanish driving test.
Meanwhile, UK tourists visiting Spain can continue to use their UK licences to drive here (e.g. a hire car, or your own vehicle) for up to 6 months per year, with no additional restrictions (i.e. no international permits etc). However, using your own UK registered vehicle in Spain may trigger additional requirements, such as a ‘green card’ (check with your insurance company for details).