At the time of writing, holders of UK driving licences who are residents in Spain still remain banned from driving on Spanish roads. The situation is causing increasing anger and frustration.
First published November 1st, in the Gazette Life magazine.
Earlier this summer, British Ambassador Hugh Elliott stated that he hoped British residents would be back on the road by July. However, more than three months later there is no change in the situation. Elliot has assured drivers that there were “a couple of matters left” but that they are “complex”, and that he could not commit to a timescale.
The situation has led to speculation as to whether the driving situation is linked to a wider bilateral deal that Spanish diplomats have recently referred to.
Following the visit of Foreign Minister 2osé Manuel Albares to attend the Queen’s funeral, Spanish diplomatic sources stated that a bilateral UK/Spain agreement which will regulate the rights of citizens in both countries was required as soon as possible, as the current measures are “contingent, temporary and unstable”.
The sources said “In mobility, we want the same rights for those who already lived here before Brexit. And for those who arrived after, we want the situation to be as similar as possible to that before Brexit, for example, with the recognition of driving licences,” they added.
Minister Albares expressed optimism at tackling these, and other issues, with the new British Foreign Minister, James Cleverly. The Hispano-Britanico talks in Oxford in early October were quoted as the first opportunity for preliminary talks, although no arrangements had been confirmed at the time of going to press.
Meanwhile, angry UK licence holders are considering an “invasion” of the British Embassy to put pressure on authorities to resolve the matter. A Facebook page calling for a peaceful delegation to meet Embassy staff has attracted more than 500 members.
THE DRIVING LICENCE BAN
At the end of May, all residents in Spain using UK-issued licences were prohibited from circulation, regardless of their nationality.
The ban followed the expiry of the last of the Spanish government’s “grace periods”, which permitted the exchange of UK licences for Spanish ones. That is no longer possible, and the only way for UK-licence holding residents to drive on Spanish roads is to pass a Spanish driving test.
The ban does not apply to tourists and temporary visitors, and although the definition of “resident” is uncertain, it would appear to apply to anyone who has been here for more than three months, or is registered on the local padrón.
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