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For many British expats, registering as a resident in Spain before the end of the transition period on 31st December 2020 has helped avoid many issues and life has, hopefully, continued smoothly (pandemic aside).
However, you may be affected by new rules on driving in Spain.
If you don’t already hold a Spanish driving licence, soon your UK driving licence will no longer be enough.
Your UK licence is recognised for six monthsIf you haven’t yet made the move to switch your UK licence for its Spanish equivalent, though, don’t fear.
As a resident in Spain before the end of the transition period on 31st December 2020, you’ll have a six-month grace period while you can use your UK licence to drive in Spain, ending on the 30th June 2021.
How to get your Spanish driving licenceHowever, when it comes to exchanging a UK licence for a Spanish licence, you will need to have already registered your details with the DGT (Dirección General de Tráfico, or the Spanish Traffic Authority) before 31st December 2020.
Anyone who didn’t register with the DGT before the 1st January 2021 will have to go through the process of obtaining a new Spanish licence from scratch instead, although some details are yet to be confirmed and the UK government’s guidance is frequently updated.
Make a follow-up appointmentIf you registered your details with the DGT and requested a licence exchange, you must make a follow-up appointment with the DGT before the end of the six-month grace period to complete the exchange.
When you go to the appointment, you’ll have to show proof you are a resident in Spain so you can exchange licences.
After you hand over your UK licenceWhile you wait for the approval of your final Spanish licence, the DGT will give you a temporary driving permit to tide you over. This temporary permit is only valid within Spain, although in 2021 restricted travel might not be quite the handicap it could have been in previous years.
Lost and expired UK licencesAlso, it’s important to note that as long as you are a resident of Spain you will be ineligible to renew your UK driving licence. So, if your licence has expired or been lost, you’ll need to contact the DVLA to be able to apply for a Spanish driving licence.
What happens if you go back to the UK?Once you’ve received your Spanish driving licence, if you plan on driving when you next return to the UK, you’re covered for short visits. Although you’ll need to update yourself on any extra documentation you may need to legally be on the road.
Your new Spanish licence should save you from having to worry about any extra hurdles when driving elsewhere within the EU, though.
Spanish driving testsIf you are in the unfortunate situation of having to take a test for your Spanish licence, the DGT provides details in English.
You can also take Spanish driving tests in English, you just might need to brush up on small differences between the rules of the road.
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