We wrote about the announcement from DGT on October 8. This post is a simplified version and the result of percolating info from reliable sources (i.e. DGT and Spanish government sites).
In the Spanish Contingency Plan, preparing for a no-deal Brexit, published by the Spanish Government on March 2nd 2019, a 9 month grace period was introduced during which residents would be able to either exchange or renew or replace their UK licence by a Spanish permit, provided the EU system for verification of entitlement of the drivers would remain operational.
DGT took action fearing that the EU verification system may not be available as of the 1st of November in case of a no-deal Brexit. Last week the DGT “Tráfico”, launched a special protocol allowing all residents in Spain who have not made the switch to a Spanish permit, to submit an application for the exchange of their UK licence by the 31st of October at the latest. Update 31.10.2019: Window now extended till 31st of January 2020. Further asking applicants to make an appointment from the 11th of November but before the grace period ends. (Update 31.10.2019: appointments to be made as of February 2020.) The DGT Website doesn´t mention a window for those who have submitted their application before the previously proposed Brexit date, but we propose following the original protocol and make appointments after the 11th of November. This appointment would be to arrange for the actual exchange.
We assume that the regular ‘cita previa’ module will have to be used for that possibly with a special option for ‘Brexit Protocol Follow Up’. Update: members have been informed at Tráfico to use the option ´tramites oficina´to make the follow-up appointment. If your application is submitted before the 1st of November (31st of January), they guarantee that your application for a Spanish permit will be carried out under EU rules, within the grace period. A publication from Tráfico Tenerife suggests that this will only be possible if the verification system remains in place long enough for all applications to be processed. Not a 100% guarantee it appears and in accordance with the Royal Decree where the continued functioning of this verification system was mentioned as a condition for the grace period. It is important to use this window for swapping your UK licence without having to re-sit theory and practice test to obtain a Spanish permit. The latter will be the case after the grace period, or for those residents who haven’t submitted their applications before the 31st of October (31st of January), included will be those taking up residence post-Brexit in a no-deal scenario.
How does it work?
YOU CAN NO LONGER USE THE REGULAR ‘CITA PREVIA’ SYSTEM TO MAKE AN APPOINTMENT.
You submit your application online using a Digital Certificate or Cl@ve Pin plus AutoFirma, If you do not have any of these, you have the option to either call 060 and apply by phone, or you can print off the pdf-form and visit your Tráfico office in person. On arrival you take a number for ‘información’ and queue. Alternatively, at some offices the guard on duty will take your paperwork.
Note: Some telephone operators bill the cost of calling 060 as a premium number. This means that the call to 060 may have a special cost not included in ADSL / fiber + calls or similar type plans, or mobile rate plans. Thus, even if you have calls to national numbers in your landline plan or have a special cost of national calls on your mobile, the call to 060 will have a charge that depends on your operator depending on the cost you set for a interprovincial call (without any plan). We recommend that you contact the customer service of your telephone operator for more information.
You can set the language to English with the translate option to the top right of the page.
The website mentions that the special protocol is for exchanges/canjes (Spanish permit will have same expiration date as UK one and no medical required). The option to renew, in case your licence is due to expire is also available. For renewals you do need a medical. The website doesn’t mention the restrictions with regards to canjes/exchanges, if your licence meets the requirements to renew under the ‘2 year resident protocol’, so we won’t complicate matters either. We won’t know how they will deal with that scenario until after November 11th (February 2020), when the first licence holders have had their appointments and are willing to share their experiences. Worst case scenario, they could refuse a canje/exchange and insist on a renewal instead, but you will have a couple of days to complement your paperwork with a medical certificate and your application should still be processed.
The first option to the right of the page is for a canje/exchange, the second is for a renewal and the third for a replacement of a lost or stolen licence. Under the on-line options is a button to download the form as pdf-file.
We have no feedback from any members who have used this last option, (hand-delivering the form at Tráfico), but it appears that the online application basically replaces the first stage of an ordinary renewal or exchange.
Can I use this special protocol if not a registered resident yet, but do have NIE number?
It appears you can. One of our members, not a registered resident yet (appointment early November so possibly post-Brexit), managed to use his digital certificate to apply for the change of his UK licence for a Spanish one, using his NIE number. He received confirmation and a request to make an appointment at the Tráfico office he indicated in the application, as of November 11. (Info on the DGT website now indicates to make appointments as of February 2020, but we assume that applications that have been submitted before the original Brexit-date, will be processed in accordance with the original Brexit Protocol planning, i.e. as of November 11th.) Residency documentation only has to be shown at the time of the actual appointment at Tráfico. The appointment should be timed to your convenience, taking into account the time it can take to obtain non-EU residency authorisation and TIE. This could work as long as the Tráfico appointment will be within the 9 months grace period for Driving Licences. We are not suggesting to those in similar circumstances to do this but difficult situations require unorthodox methods. This could possibly be a way to take advantage of the 9 months grace period as offered and described in the Royal Decree from March this year.
What if I have a trip planned and need an original licence to hire or drive a car abroad?
Well, the online application option, as explained above, allows you to plan the appointment at a date that is convenient for you. If you fear the Spanish licence will not arrive as quickly as Tráfico promises, then you could consider trying for an appointment on a date after your return. As long as you have submitted your application before the 1st of November (31st of January).
What if I have an appointment, made before this special Protocol came into place, but for a date after 31.10.2019?
If the UK leaves the EU without a deal on that date, and the fear of Trafico that they will no longer be able to verify your entitlement with the DVLA as of 1.11.2019 (any date between 1.11.2019 and 31.01.2020), becomes reality, then I’m afraid that chances are that Tráfico will not be able to process your application. We ask anyone in this position to consider submitting their application before the 31st of October (selecting one of the options of the Special Protocol), and possibly use their appointment to get to stage 2: handing over original UK licence in exchange for a temporary Spanish permit. Update 31.10.2019: with the Flextension, we assume that appointments can be used to submit your application under Brexit Protocol.
What if there is no Brexit after all?
In that case, according to the FAQs on the DGT website, you just do not make an appointment to proceed with stage 2 as your licence will remain an EU licence in that case and valid to drive in Spain. Note from CAB: the DGT do not mention it, but the ‘2 year resident protocol’ has not been withdrawn, so you’d need to check if your licence is subject to renewal under that protocol, or that it would be valid to drive until it expires naturally. And of course, you can always voluntarily continue with the exchange/canje of your licence and make an appointment with Trafico to swap it for a Spanish permit, once the Brexit situation is clear.
Naturally, we will keep members informed of any further developments and would appreciate experiences with this Brexit protocol to be shared on our facebook group.
Below an English template for the application form.
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