UK passport holders and driving licences in the Canary Islands
As most people will be aware, following the UK's exit from the EU on 31/12/2020 many things changed for British citizens residing abroad. A big issue for many is the exchange of a UK Drivers licence. The current situation, at the time of writing, is that for UK passport holders with Spanish Residency status, you needed to have registered your “intent” to exchange your licence before 31/12/2020. There are two distinct situations that arise from this:
Those people that HAD registered their intent to exchange prior to 31/12/2020:
People who fall into this category, and correctly registered their licences with Trafico either by ringing 060 or registering via email, were initially allowed until 30/6/2021 to complete their residency status and exchange their licence at Tráfico.
However, due to the high volume of applications for residency and COVID restrictions this deadline was extended until 31/10/2021. Your licence, if you fall into this category, is valid for driving in Spain (as it currently stands) only until 31/10/2021, after which time you will be deemed to be a resident holding an invalid licence to drive in Spain, and if you continue to drive you will be doing so illegally.
The DGT site is very clear on this point, however, the UK Government website states that the exchange date in these circumstances is 31/12/2021 but this is at odds with the DGT in Spain.
Those people who did not have residency prior to 31/12/2020:
People who did not have their residency (TIE) before 31/12/2020 but had the application in process, have 6 months from the date of granting residency status, which normally is the application date, to obtain a Spanish Drivers licence.
At present, as these people do not fall into the category mentioned above, the only option is to sit and pass a Spanish drivers test, both the Theory and Practical parts. These people, in the eyes of the Spanish law, will not hold a valid licence to drive after 6 months from the date of the TIE.
For example, if your application was presented on 25/11/2020 but you did not receive a favourable resolution until 01/07/2021, then the date on the TIE would be 25/11/2020 so the 6 months rule, which applies, starts then, so after 25/5/2021 the UK licence ceases to be valid due to the residency status.
According to the UK Government website and The British Embassy, there are still ongoing talks regarding an agreement but there is no news from the Spanish authorities.
British holidaymakers can continue to drive with a valid UK licence (an international licence isn’t required) in Spain as before, for a maximum of 180 days per year, the same amount of time that they are legally allowed in Spain following Brexit. The situation of a tourist is easily checked now by the police on a spot check, as your passport will be stamped with the date or dates you entered Spain.
The police are currently allowing UK licences to be used until 31/10/2021, however, after this date, if nothing is agreed they will be given the green light to issue fines for holding a non-valid licence which in turn will then mean the car has no insurance and could be impounded.
If you’d like further information or assistance for obtaining your driving licence, please contact Emma Swain at Motorworld on (+34) 922 783 828, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org