The reciprocal recognition and exchange of driving licenses between Spain and the United Kingdom is now a reality

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Holders of a driving licence valid in either State will be able to apply for the exchange in the country where they have established their residence without the need to take an additional practical or theoretical test.

The day has finally come! After more than two years of negotiations, as of today, 16th March 2023, British residents in Spain can now exchange their UK driver’s license for a Spanish one. In this article we have put together some questions and answers that we’re sure you have and the requirements for the exchange.

After the successive extensions requested to carry out the exchange of licenses between Spain and the United Kingdom, last Tuesday a meeting of Ministers was held where, at last, they approved the reciprocal recognition and exchange of information on traffic offenses in matters of road safety.

From now on, anyone who has a valid and in force driving license issued by either of the two States will be able to request the exchange of their equivalent driving license in the place where they have established their residence, without being subject to any additional requirement of practical or theoretical examination and in accordance with the equivalences between the categories of licenses of both countries.

In addition, the agreement establishes that all valid permits or licenses of current residents issued prior to its entry into force may be exchanged, while for permits issued after its entry into force it will be an indispensable requirement for access to the exchange that the permits have been issued in the country where the applicant had his legal residence.

A period of six months

Those British citizens residing in Spain whose driving license had not been recognized before Brexit, nor in the successive extensions granted, will be able to do so as of today, March 16.

Therefore, in order to facilitate the administrative process in the provincial traffic police stations, a period of six months has been granted during which British citizens will be able to circulate in Spain with their original license while they process the exchange.

For better road safety

In addition, Spain and the United Kingdom agree to provide each other with information on the details of vehicles and their owners for the purpose of investigating traffic offenses related to road safety:

Do I need to do the exchange straight away?

The sooner you do it, the better, but the agreement states that holders of valid British driver’s licenses are permitted to drive in Spain for up to 6 months from the date of arrival to Spain or from the date you were granted residency. After this date you must apply for the exchange.

What if I have lost my driver’s license or it was stolen?

Unfortunately, if you have lost your UK driver’s license or it was stolen, you will not be able to exchange it for a Spanish one as you must hand in your original license. The Spanish equivalent of the DVLA (Jefatura de Tráfico) do not accept police reports of lost or stolen licenses. In this case, you would need to apply directly for a Spanish license, sitting the theory and taking the driving test.

I have my original license, so where do I start?

In order for us to initiate the process for you, we need the documents listed below. We will provide the forms to be signed:

  • Original UK driver’s license (valid, or expired since arriving to Spain)
  • Psychophysical aptitude report issued by an authorised Driver Recognition Centre (Centro de Reconocimiento de Conductores)
  • Signed authorisation form allowing us to submit on your behalf
  • Signed application form
  • Signed declaration form declaring that you are not deprived of the right to drive and do not hold another license issued by an EU country or member of the European Economic Area
  • Signed photo stub with a recent photo (32 x 26 mm)

Please note that this information is for general use only. For accurate advice and guidance, we strongly recommend that you book an appointment with an experienced lawyer.

For further information or assistance, please do not hesitate to contact Pellicer & Heredia on +34 965 480 737 or email us at info@pellicerheredia.com.

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