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Warning- DGT Instructions On UK Driving Licences Post Brexit

Update February 1, 2020.

The UK exited with a withdrawal agreement. DGT has reversed the procedure for UK license holders. Information on the link below:

Changing UK driving licences in the transition period

“If the BREXIT takes place, your UK permit will not be valid to circulate in Spain” (DGT). The department has launched a protocol so that you can carry out the approval of foreign permits (exchange, replacement and renewal) under the same conditions prior to BREXIT provided that you submit your application before November 1, 2019”.

We would like to alert all UK nationals resident in Spain who still hold a UK driving licence in the case of a no deal Brexit.

DGT posted:

“If BREXIT takes place , the United Kingdom will cease to belong to the European Union, so all traffic agreements within the EU will no longer be valid for citizens of the United Kingdom. Among other things, this means that the permits from the United Kingdom will only be valid for driving in Spain during the first 9 months after BREXIT, provided they are in force.

If you want to continue driving in our country, it will be necessary to make an exchange (homologation), renewal or replacement of your permit for an equivalent Spanish one, and you must deliver the original.

The DGT implements a protocol that allows you to make the exchange, renewal or replacement of your UK permit for the Spanish equivalent under the same conditions prior to BREXIT , without waiting for the signing of a new agreement between countries, or having to obtain a new Spanish driving license.

To do this you must be a holder of a UK driver’s license, have a habitual residence in Spain and submit an application before November 1, 2019 . In this way, whatever happens on October 31, 2019, you will be guaranteed to attend to the exchange of your permit for a period of 9 months from the date of BREXIT.

At the time of the process, the original permit will be withdrawn and we will give you a provisional permit. In a period of approximately one month and a half you will have your definitive permission. You do not have to worry about going to your Headquarters or Traffic Office , we will send it to you by mail at home.

You can check, in a telematic way, the processing status in which your permission is located .

Remember: The deadline to apply for the extraordinary exchange is October 31, 2019″ .

The Spanish government published a Royal Decree on March 2 2019 should the UK exit the EU without a deal, commonly referred to as ‘The Contingency Plan‘. The article relating to the continual use of the UK licence during the grace period.

The Royal Decree gave a nine month grace period with no mention of a limited application date.

“1. The driving licences, valid and in force, issued by the British authorities shall enable their holders to drive in our country for a period of nine months, from the date of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union.

During this period, those who meet the requirements established in the second additional provision of the General Regulations of Drivers, approved by Royal Decree 818/2009, of May 8 (note from CAB: registered residents), may exchange their driving licence, provided that the current system of verification of the same remains in force, under the conditions provided for permits issued by member states of the European Union, all in accordance with the provisions of current regulations on traffic.

2. After the period set forth in the previous section has elapsed, the driving licence system issued by the British authorities shall be that established for permits issued in third countries, under the terms regulated in current traffic regulations”.

The CAB Spain team have always been aware that the regulations outlined in Royal Decrees are not always passed to the relevant authorities. This may be the case or for whichever reason (perhaps the EU system of verification will cease to be operational for UK driving licences in case of a no-deal Brexit, as of 1.11.2019 – an informative note from Tráfico Tenerife indicates this could be the case), Drivers should be aware that the information now posted on the websites of several government organisations, doesn’t mention the 9 month grace period at all and appears to contradict the above where there is no mention of making the application before November 1. We have to take into consideration that the traffic police will take their instructions from the Department General of Traffic.

Translation of the information posted on the DGT website.

Full information on the link below. Change to English with the Google translate button in the top right corner of the page or use the system of your appliance.


Furthermore, the DGT website presents the post-Brexit (no deal) situation with regards to UK driving licences as if there is a choice, either accompany your licence by an International one, or change for a Spanish licence. The latter, of course, is only available for registered residents. And the first is only of limited value and duration, as once you have obtained a residency authorisation as non-EU citizen, the International Licence will only be valid for 6 months, during which the holder should obtain a Spanish Driving Permit through a driving school, passing the relevant exams. In the light of these recent publications we do recommend that those that are residing here in Spain on the exit date (should the UK leave the EU without a deal), but do not have residency paperwork yet, to apply for an International Driving Licence from the UK to accompany their regular licence, to avoid problems with the Trafico Guardias.

Note: the regular ‘cita previa’ module cannot be used to make an appointment to renew or exchange your UK licence for a Spanish permit. There is a special ‘protocol’ that you can access through the link above, to the right of the page.

You can either submit the application online, with a digital certificate installed on your computer, or with a Cl@ve Pin and Autofirma.  You can authorise them to check your registration as residency electronically, no need to include a copy of your residency certicate in that case. The website offers 3 different options, the first is for an exchange/canje, to replace your UK licence for a Spanish one with the same duration as the UK one had. The second one is for a renewal, in case your UK licence has expired. The information doesn’t mention the ‘2 year resident protocol’ that severely limits the possibilities for such an exchange/canje (depending on the categories on your licence) but we still suggest choosing to renew your licence (2nd option), to avoid problems in case your licence doesn’t meet the requirements for an exchange/canje and thus avoid unneccessary delays in processing your application. A renewal will involve a medical. You will receive confirmation of your application and a request to make an appointment with the Trafico office you indicated in your application, as of November 11th, but within the 9 months grace period post no-deal Brexit, to present yourself there with your original licence, medical if applicable (when renewing) and you will receive a temporary Spanish permit then. Plastic card to follow by ordinary mail. Basically, this online application replaces the first stage of an ordinary renewal or exchange, where you’d make an appointment at Trafico and present yourself there with copies of your licence, so they can verify your entitlement with the DVLA.

The third option is for when you’ve lost your UK licence or it has been stolen. Alternatively, you can download the special form (as pdf – the link to download is a bit further down on the page) and present yourself at one of the Tráfico offices, take a number and queue, or apply by phone, calling 060.

Note 2: 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. Received confirmation and request to make an appointment at the Tráfico office he indicated in the application, after November 11. As he only has to show his residency documentation at the time of the actual appointment at Tráfico, he should be able to time it to his convenience, taking into account the time it can take to obtain non-EU residency authorisation and TIE, as long as the appointment will be within the 9 months grace period for Driving Licences. So for anyone in similar circumstances, 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.

Translation of the information presented on the Ministry’s website.

If the United Kingdom leaves the European Union without a withdrawal agreement, the following shall apply:

Will British driver’s licences be recognised in Spain?
Yes. The driving licenses, valid and in force, issued by the British authorities will enable their holders to drive in our country for a period of nine months from the date of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union. After this period, the general regulations will apply and the permits issued by the British authorities will enable you to drive in Spain for six months, from the entry of the owner in Spain or from the date of obtaining legal residence. Latest info 9.11.2019.

Individuals holding British licenses who remain residing in Spain after the date of withdrawal from the United Kingdom, are advised to request the exchange of their driving licence for a Spanish permit before this withdrawal occurs.

Exact same wording on the Moncloa website.

It appears that this information has stayed ‘under the radar’ until now. The original Royal Decree published on the 2nd of March has been evaluated in September this year, but this did not lead to any relevant changes. There has not been any press coverage in Spain, no information from the UK Govt about this either. In this case, we were made aware of these new publications through the vigilance of one of the members of the CAB team of volunteers and we felt it was necessary to alert our members.

The author’s name on this article is senior advisor Myra who would also like to thank senior advisor Richelle for her contribution to this important notice.

Please note: The information provided is based upon our understanding of current legislation. It is not legal advice but is provided freely to enable you to be properly informed. We recommend that if you are considering taking action, you should seek professional advice.

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