Since the UK left the EU it has been a rocky road for UK motorists living in Spain. Whilst the UK and other EU countries quickly forged reciprocal agreements so that their residents and those Britons living in the country could continue to drive using their existing driving license, it took until earlier this year before the same agreement was made between the British and Spanish governments.
During the negotiations period, Britons were asked to take sit the Spanish driving test and secure a new license or get off the roads.
Now there is another deadline that Britons living and driving in Spain need to be aware of. Residents of Spain who hold a UK or Gibraltar driving licence have been given a strict two-week notice urging them to exchange their UK driving licences before the impending deadline.
The good news is that they don’t need to take their driving test again in Spain: it’s a simple paperwork job. But it is one that you should do as soon as possible!
When Do You Need to Swap Your Photocard Driving License?
If you want to continue driving in Spain but you haven’t swapped your UK photocard driving license for a Spanish one then you have until 15th September to do so – that's less than 2 weeks away! If you don’t exchange your license before this deadline then you will be considered to be driving without a valid license and will be in violation of the law. The result could be fines and, for repeat offenders, even the loss of your license.
In March an agreement was reached with allowed UK motorists to transfer their licenses in Spain without having to retake their driving test. But it’s important to note that you can only exchange your UK driving license for a Spanish driving license if you were living in Spain before 15th March 2023. If you moved to Spain after this deadline, then you cannot exchange your driving license and will instead need to apply for a Spanish one.
Why Is This Exchange Important?
The British Ambassador to Spain, Huge Elliott, emphasised just how important it is that Britons adhere to this exchange deadline in a message posted to the Spanish Embassy Facebook pafe.
The message read that "It is very important that UK licence holders who lived in Spain prior to March 15 2023 and want to drive here exchange their licences on or before September 15...We want this message to reach as many UK licence holders as possible, so please spread the word and refer to our Facebook page and the ‘Living In Spain Guide’ on gov.uk for more information."
Is There Anything Else British Drivers In Spain Need To Know Right Now?
This isn’t the only update that British drivers in Spain need to be aware of. Additional changes have been put in place that could result in fines for uninformed drivers. In the popular cities of Barcelona and Madrid new Low Emission Zones (LEZ) have been put in place. Driving through these zones when you shouldn’t can result in a fine of up to 200 euros, and so travellers, particularly tourists who aren’t aware of the rules, are being advised to research their route thoroughly before they travel and be prepared for any impact on their journey in advance.
Spain's low-emission zones are implemented during specific hours and have been introduced in a bid to reduce air pollution levels. To access Barcelona between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m., your vehicle must meet at least Euro 3 petrol emissions standards or Euro 4 diesel emissions standards, and drivers must obtain the appropriate vehicle badge before entering these controlled areas. You can apply for a vehicle badge online before you arrive in Spain if you are travelling in your own vehicle, or ensure that this badge is in place if you are hiring a car.
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