British expats banned from driving in Spain following breakdown in post-Brexit talks

British expats banned from driving in Spain following breakdown in post-Brexit talks
At the start of the month, new rules came not force in Spain that now means that expat British drivers are now banned from driving in the country.

Following a breakdown in talks between the two counties, if you have been resident for more than six months and have not exchanged your UK licence for a Spanish one, you will no longer be able to drive using your UK licence.

However, if you moved south after January 1st 2022, your UK licence will only be recognised for another six months from the date you took up residence in Spain.

The law applies to UK, Gibraltar, Jersey, Guernsey or Isle of Man licence.

Following a public outcry at the current situation, both governments are set to resume talks to negotiate a new deal enabling expats to exchange licences without needing to take a practical test.

A Foreign Office spokesperson said: "An agreement to swap UK driving licences for Spanish licences has not yet been reached. From May 1st, UK licence holders who have been resident in Spain for more than six months and did not exchange their licence 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."

According to Statista, the number of British citizens that lived in Spain was slightly over under 314,000 as of January 2021.

The change to the rules doesn’t impact any tourists or visitors staying less than 90 days.

What will expats need to do next?

The government has advised any expats impacted by the change to take a test as soon as possible.

However, the costs can be high across the country – with the nation currently ranking as the ninth most expensive place on earth to learn to drive.

It is also vital that anyone looking to get a Spanish driving licence can speak the language – as tests cannot be taken in English.

Registration with a Spanish driving school can cost in excess of €200 – with each lesson costing more than €30 an hour.

A test then costs a further €130, which includes a mandatory physical examination. It then costs €100 to have your licence officially issued.

If you are looking at heading to Spain in your car, take a look at our driving advice for Spain and look at the RAC’s European Breakdown Cover.

European Breakdown Cover

Get covered when driving in Europe from just £7.*

*Based on 1 day cover in Zone 1, max 9 people in a vehicle up to 1 year old.