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If you are a British national living permanently in Spain, you need a Spanish driving licence.
Friday, September 15, 2023 @ 10:03 PM

[UPDATED]  BRITISH nationals living in Spain will now have to replace their UK-issued driving licences for a Spanish version.

This also applies to anyone who has a driving licence from Gibraltar, a British territory, or who is not a British national but holds a licence issued in the UK or Gibraltar.

If you are a British national living permanently in Spain, you will need a Spanish driving licence from September 15, 2023 (photo: Joaquínceb/Wikimedia Commons)

The Department for Transport (DfT) in the UK struck an agreement with Spanish traffic authorities in March, giving British citizens until September 15, 2023 to exchange their licences.

They were told to make the swap within six months of March 16, 2023, or within six months of the date they officially became residents, whichever is the later.

UK nationals who became residents in Spain more recently than March this year can still switch their British driving licences for a Spanish version up until the six-month cut-off point, their UK licences will only be valid for up to 6 months after their entry into the country or the date they were awarded residency.

Exchanging a licence after this date means the holder will not be allowed to drive in Spain until they receive their Spanish one.

Britons who do not exchange their licences in time will need to take a driving test (photo: Pixabay)

British nationals whose UK licences have already expired – either the photo-card part, or the licence as a whole for the over-70s – may still be able to swap them for a Spanish version, DGT confirms.

UK licences expire once the driver reaches the age of 70, and is then renewed periodically thereafter; however, the photo-card normally has to be replaced every five to 10 years, even when the actual authorisation to drive is still valid.

If the photo-card expiry date has passed, or – in the case of drivers aged 70-plus, the complete licence deadline – an exchange may still be possible.

Where the holder was already living in Spain before the expiry date, they can swap their licence for a Spanish one within the first six months of their residence date, or up to and including September 15.

But if the licence expired – and was not renewed – before the driver became a resident in Spain, it cannot be exchanged, and the holder must take a fresh driving test in Spain.

British nationals resident in Spain cannot renew their UK-issued licences via their home authority, the DVLA – their only option is to obtain a Spanish licence, either through exchange if they are eligible or, if not, by taking a driving test.

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davej523 said:
Saturday, September 16, 2023 @ 8:25 AM

It says you have 6 months to exchange your uk licence yet you can't drive after Sep 15. How do you drive then until you exchange your licence ??

eos_ian said:
Saturday, September 16, 2023 @ 9:08 AM

When you apply to exchange your license you are supplied with a provisional license until your definitive one arrives. However, you will have a period of 6 months to change it from the moment you are given residency.

eos_ian said:
Saturday, September 16, 2023 @ 9:09 AM

In the Iink I shared from the DGT it states that your license will be valid for 6 months only. I have requested the article be updated. 

flyden said:
Saturday, September 16, 2023 @ 9:32 PM

Sorry but this information is incorrect. You can still exchange your licence anytime after 15th Sept BUT you are not legally permitted to drive on a UK licence after your 6 month period has expired. For example, this 6 month 'grace' period begins when you enter Spain or when your residency begins - this could be 1st Sept 23. You DO NOT have to take a Spanish test after the 15th!
Here is the correct information from a CAB Spain post..
Hi all, to avoid any confusion on UK driving licence exchange
The approaching cutoff date 16/9/2023 is merely relevant to those resident in Spain more than 6 months who after that date cannot drive in Spain on UK licence
It is NOT a cutoff for exchange. This can still be carried out with no cutoff but just means those impacted cannot drive until Spanish licence obtained. No driving test is involved.
Remember that you have six months from date of residency to exchange your UK licence if becoming resident after 16/3/2023 and during those 6 months you can use UK licence.
Hope this clarifies

eos_ian said:
Saturday, September 16, 2023 @ 9:55 PM

GOV website / You cannot renew or replace your UK, Gibraltar, Jersey, Guernsey or Isle of Man driving licence if you live in Spain.

If you have one of these licences, you can use it to drive for up to 6 months after becoming resident in Spain. To continue driving after this, you must apply for a Spanish driving licence.

The process for obtaining a Spanish licence depends on whether you have a UK, Gibraltar, Jersey, Guernsey or Isle of Man licence.

You cannot use an International Driving Permit (IDP) instead of a Spanish licence.

From 16 March 2023 you can drive using your valid UK or Gibraltar licence until 15 September. This is a temporary measure that the UK and Spanish governments have agreed.

If you have a valid UK or Gibraltar driving licence
If you were living in Spain before 16 March 2023, you can use your valid UK or Gibraltar driving licence to drive in Spain for 6 months from this date (15 September).

UK or Gibraltar licence holders who moved to Spain before 16 March 2023 and fail to make the exchange by 15 September will no longer be able to drive on their UK licence and will need to wait until their licence exchange has been completed to drive after that.

If you move to Spain after 16 March 2023, you can drive using your valid UK or Gibraltar licence for six months from the date you acquire residency. We recommend you start the exchange process during this time.

Exchange is possible after six months, but your UK licence will not be valid for driving in Spain while you await your exchange to be completed. / article updated. / Sorry for the confusion I will pass on corrections to the news department. Clearly, we were supplied a less than accurate news article. Thanks for commenting

flyden said:
Saturday, September 16, 2023 @ 10:10 PM

You're welcome.
Please note, it gets a little more complicated for those over 70 years of age, but you can research this yourselves ;-)
CAB Spain is a good recourse

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