DVLA license dispute means UK drivers banned in Spain under new rules


Spain has banned British expats from driving after a dispute between the two countries over a post-Brexit plan on UK licenses could not be resolved.

A ban came into effect on Sunday, May 1, after a six-month rule ended which allowed Brits to use their DVLA issued licenses in Spain.

Brits who are affected may have to sit a driving test in Spain in order to obtain a Spanish license to be allowed on the roads.

However, tourists can still use their British driving license while on holiday in the country.

Here is everything to know about the driving ban for Brits in Spain.

Why are Brits banned on Spanish Roads?

The new restrictions came into effect after the British and Spanish governments failed to reach a mutual agreement on DVLA-issued licenses by the April 30 deadline.

MP Sir Iain Duncan Smith said: “It’s a case of ‘tomorrow, tomorrow [tomorrow, tomorrow]. It’s time they pull their finger out and do what they agreed.”

Until Sunday, May 1, Britons living in Spain were able to use their DVLA-issued licenses to drive, but a failed consensus could now trigger weeks of chaos for those who travel by car.

Every other European nation has agreed to a post-Brexit protocol in respect of British driving licences.

The official guidance on the UK government’s website for British expats in Spain says: “If you have a valid UK driving licence: From 1 May 2022, if you were living in Spain before 1 January 2021, your valid UK driving license will no longer be valid for driving in Spain.

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“If you moved to Spain after 1 January 2021, your valid UK license will be recognized for six months from the date you obtained residence.”

Can this issue be resolved?

The Foreign Office said it was pushing to “accelerate talks” with the Spanish government.

A UK government source said: “This could go on for a week, or it could be longer. It should be temporary, but we don’t know how temporary. In the meantime, British residents living in Spanish hill villages won’t be able to drive a car.”

A Foreign Office spokesperson added: “An agreement to swap UK driving licenses for Spanish licenses has not yet been reached. From May 1, UK license holders who have been resident in Spain for more than six months and did not exchange their license during the transition period will no longer be able to drive legally in Spain. We have agreed to rapidly accelerate talks, and are urging the Spanish government to bring forward interim measures.”

What to do if you are impacted

Anyone affected by the ban is advised to take immediate steps to apply for a Spanish license.

This will involve both a theory and a practical driving test.

More Brexit changes

In another Brexit move, drivers are to save £50 a year on car insurance due to government scrapping an EU law that allowed claims for mobility scooters and ride-on lawn mowers.

British drivers’ insurance prices were due to rise this year because Brexit meant the odd law had to be made reality in Britain – despite all other European countries scrapping it.

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The law would mean anyone could bring an insurance claim against vehicles like mobility scooters, ride-on lawn mowers and golf buggies on private land.

Normally these vehicles would not need to buy motor insurance, which is only required for vehicles meant to go on the road.

But claims made against these vehicles would have driven up car insurance premiums by £50 a year per motorist, according to government figures.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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