A breakthrough of sorts in the never-ending saga of Brexit related issues still be resolved – this time the exchange of UK driving licenses for Spanish ones – has been announced by the British Embassy in Madrid.
The Ambassador, Hugh Elliott, said that the end was now in sight and that British nationals resident in Spain, who have been unable to exchange their driving licences for Spanish ones, “will be back on the road around the end of July”.
The announcement came after over 18 months of intense negotiations, which resulted in four time extensions due to the diffuculty in finding a reciprocal deal for UK driving licence holders in Spain and Spanish license holders in the UK.
Under the terms of the Brexit withdrawal agreement and subsequent extensions UK nationals who have been resident in Spain for over 6 months must exchange their UK licenses for a Spanish one.
The last extension to the negotiations came to an end on 1st May leaving thousands of UK licence holders in limbo and not allowed to drive on Spanish roads.
Although many of the estimated 418,000 British residents in Spain managed to exchange their licences before the end of the withdrawal agreement on 30 December 2020 – many found the process complicated and, in some areas, very difficult to arrange appointments at local DGT offices.
In a video posted on the Embassy’s Facebook page, the ambassador stressed that the authorities ‘were continuing to work every day on this’ but said he was still ‘unable to give a precise date’ for an agreement to be signed off.
‘The good news,’ he said, ‘is that the UK and Spain are now in agreement on the core issues that have been problematic and we’re now very close to finalising the actual text of the agreement.’
‘Once that’s happened, possibly as early as next week here are various legal clearances, language checks and final political approvals that we and the Spanish need to go through,’ he added. ‘As this agreement will be in the form of an international Treaty, certain procedures will also be necessary, such as approval by Spain’s cabinet of ministers.’
The ambassador stressed that as the processes are not entirely in the UK’s hands, he could not make any promises about timescale, but he could give a ‘best estimate’.
‘We are looking at a date of having you back on the road around the end of July,’ he said. ‘
The Embassy continues to advise residents who are unable to drive in Spain to explore local support options such as charities although Elliott did say, ‘If you find yourself truly vulnerable or know somebody who is, do contact your local consulate.’