Spain: British expat questions enforcement of Covid passes
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The British Embassy in Madrid has announced that the Spanish authorities have permitted Britons in Spain to extend the period of validity of UK driving licences in the country. This is the third time the Spanish government has given British citizens an extension.
Last week, the British ambassador to Spain, Hugh Elliott, announced he had requested an extension beyond the December 31 deadline.
He also insisted that negotiations for a permanent solution were ongoing.
Plans over a licence exchange are “to conclude as soon as possible”, but are “not there yet”, according to the British Embassy.
The Embassy informed Britons of the news in a Facebook post on Tuesday, December 28.
It said: “We are pleased to let you know that the Spanish Government has today confirmed the extension of the grace period during which you can drive in Spain using a valid UK licence until the end of February 2022.”
This is the third extension Spain has given to British licence holders since Brexit.
After Brexit, Britons’ UK-issued documents became unrecognised by the common EU framework.
However, the British Embassy managed to extend them – first in June 2021 and secondly in October.
The extension period, which will last two months, will give Britons who are licence holders more time to register their intent to exchange.
It will also give more time for licence holders to drive legally in Spain and potentially sit their Spanish driving test in order to receive Spanish documents.
The Embassy explained: “We recognise that the extension is relatively short, and therefore it is important that – if it is imperative for you to drive – you consider all your options, which may include looking into taking a driving test now.
Speaking of a possible deal between the UK and Spain, it said: “As you know, the UK Government is committed to reaching a long-term agreement with Spain so that residents can exchange their UK driving licences without taking a test.
“Negotiations are continuing and we stand ready to conclude that agreement as soon as possible.
“But unfortunately we are not there yet.”
The Embassy added: “We will be updating gov.uk/livinginspain shortly.
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“This message only applies to UK nationals living in Spain.
“Visitors can continue to use their UK licence to drive in Spain without the need for an International Driving Permit.”
Spanish people living in the UK are, however, able to exchange their Spanish driving licence for a British one without taking a practical test.
Britons living in Spain hope a reciprocal agreement can be made in their country of residence.
Before Brexit came into force on January 1, 2021, having a UK driving licence in Spain was not an obstacle for Britons.
Now, they, like other non-EU citizens, have only six months from their arrival in Spain to use their international licences.
After that, they must sit a theory and practical test to receive a Spanish licence.
However, as the British Embassy outlined, this does not apply to British tourists wanting to rent a car while on holiday in Spain.
This news comes at the same time as Italian authorities gave British residents in their country 12 more months to continue using their UK driving licences.
The British government will continue to also engage in negotiations with Italy to find a solution to the problem.
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