URGENT! Deadline to Exchange UK Driving Licences in the Final Run up to Brexit

UPDATE!: Since BREXIT has been postponed yet again, the Spanish DGT has extended its deadline to 31st January

UPDATE!: Since BREXIT has been postponed yet again, the Spanish DGT has extended its deadline to 31st January 2020…

With the 31st of October approaching fast, BREXIT is on most people’s minds. The latest change to affect UK residents in Spain is that the DGT (UK equivalent of DVLA) has posted information on their website advising of new regulations for holders of UK licences to continue driving on Spanish roads in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Up until now, the rules have been that the driver must have two years on their residencia card in order to exchange another EU member state’s driving licence for a Spanish document, and many in the final run to the Brexit deadline have been exchanging their licences to avoid posible problems.

However, the DGT has apparently modified this stipulation for holders of UK licences, because if Britain crashes out of the EU on the 31st October without a deal, any traffic agreements once in place for British citizens will no longer apply. What changes have been made? How long can British driving licence holders continue to drive in Spain? And more importantly, what do they have to do right now?

There are three ways to obtain a Spanish driving licence in the same conditions as an EU member state licence:

  1. Exchange
  2. Renewal
  3. Substitution

Exchange: If anyone residing in Spain still has their UK driving licence, they must exchange the document otherwise nine months after BREXIT, they will no longer be able to drive on Spanish roads. In this scenario, the DGT is taking what they call “extraordinary measures” to ensure continuity in the event of no-deal by putting protocols into place allowing British citizens to obtain a Spanish licence in the same conditions as their existing UK licence without have to be reexamined and without having to wait until new treaties between both countries are agreed and signed. 

For this exchange to take place, the holder must be have an in-date driving licence, be permanent residents in Spain (have a green residencia card and registered on the municipal census -empadronamiento-) and apply for a Spanish licence by the 31st October 2019.

As many of you already know, the DGT system has been overloaded with appointment requests as there has been a mad rush to get ahead of the unknown Brexit outcome and up until now, if an appointment is requested today for example, the applicant may not be given a date until February. To get around this issue, the DGT is going to allow requests for a Spanish licence that have been put through by the 31st October 2019 to be processed, so no matter what the outcome, the applicant is guaranteed a Spanish licence within the nine month grace period as long as they meet the criteria.

Renewal: If the UK licence is about to expire, the holder can apply for a renewal, upon which they will be given a Spanish equivalent. Remember, the terms to exchange a UK licence stipulate the licence must be in-date so if there is very little time until the expiry date, this may be the correct procedure to follow to avoid incidents during the process. The above deadline to apply is the same.

Substitution: If the UK licence has been stolen, lost or is deteriorated, again, the applicant may apply for a Spanish equivalent. The above deadline to apply is the same.

What steps must be taken to obtain a Spanish licence?

Step 1: Apply for the option that best suits your circumstances (exchange, renewal or substitution of an existing UK licence) by the 31st October 2019.

  • Online as long as the applicant has a digital certificate or Cl@ve access
  • By phone, calling 060 where the applicant’s details will be verified either by an automated system or by an agent
  • At your local DGT office by filling in the form and handing it in (no prior appointment is required)

Step 2: As long as the above verification process is favourable, the applicant may request an appointment at the DGT from the 11th November 2019 and during the following nine months. A medical examination must be taken prior to the appointment at a registered centre. On the appointment date, the applicant or an authorized representative must hand in their original UK driving licence to include the old paper versión if they still have that document, the application forms, proof of ID and address, and they will be given a provisional document that will allow the applicant to continue to drive legally for three months until the defintive licence is processed. The definitive licence should be made available approximately one and a half months from the appointment date and will be sent directly to the applicant’s home address so it isn’t necessary to return to the DGT unless the document does not arrive within the expected timeframe. Be aware, a provisional licence only allows the holder to drive within Spanish territory. Also note, the DGT only accepts payments by card, no cash can be taken.

What happens if the UK does not go through with Brexit? Three years down the line and Brexit is still as uncertain as ever, with changes on an almost daily basis, however, in this scenario, the UK would remain part of the EU and it will no longer be necesary to exchange a UK issued licence, therefore, the applicant would not have to follow Step 2 of the application process.

Up until now the DGT had not made any pronouncements on what will happen to holders of UK driving licences. The last time I looked into this matter was after I had seen information on the UK Government website instructing Spanish residents to obtain Spanish licences, but when I tried to verify this information with the DGT, they were completely unaware of the information posted in the UK. It would appear the UK Government was trying to cover its back because at the time Theresa May’s leadership was being called into question. This new information is a clear indication of what is to come… more uncertainty, because Brexit could still be pushed back but in the final stretch, other EU members have to put contingency plans in place to anticipate whatever outcome there is at the end of this month.


About Sabrina L. Williams

Although I was born in the UK, I moved to the Canary Islands, Spain at a young age and I haven't looked back. The Canaries is a fantastic place to live, I mean you can do all types of outdoor activities practically all year round because of the great weather. Horses are my poison but the islands are also a superb spot for water sports so they do attract a lot of attention from people around the world. Anyway, enough about that. Back in 2011, I made one of the biggest, scariest yet best decisions I'd ever made and set-up my own business in the middle of a recession. I love what I do as no two days are the same, plus Spanish law keeps me on my toes as it is constantly changing (often without warning!) so there is always something new to learn. As I've branched out in the world of Administrative Consultancy, I decided to create a blog to discuss topics of interest to others in my industry and my clients, share tips and experiences, to see what new ideas people have for improving their businesses and the like so I hope you'll find the time to join me on this venture...

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