How British citizens can drive in Spain after Brexit

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Updated at 03-02-2022

If you didn't have time to exchange your driving license before Brexit arrived, don't worry. In this article you will find all the options you have to drive legally in Spain whatever your situation or obtaining a new driver's license and when apply for it

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From 1st January 2021, many UK citizens residing in the European Union were affected by the UK's disengagement from the European Union. This is also reflected in driving licences after Brexit.

Precisely from this date 01/01/2021, British nationals have a grace period of six months from the date of entry into Spain or from the date legal residence was obtained in the country to continue driving with their British licence.

With the same criteria, the DGT gives until 30th June 2021 as the deadline for British residents to exchange their driving licence.

Steps to exchange your British driving licence in Spain 

If you have not yet been able to exchange your British driving licence for a Spanish one, you should hurry because as we have said, the deadline is set and will not be extended.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to exchange your licence yourself.

Licence exchange for habitual residents in Spain

Those who live in Spain and have a British driving licence had until 31st December to apply for the exchange, replacement or renewal of their licence. The exchange of driving licences due to Brexit cannot be processed after this date.

The exchange, replacement or renewal will only be made for licences that have been verified by the relevant authorities in the UK before 1st January 2021.

If you are verified, you will be able to complete the procedures described below. If this is not the case, then the application is automatically rejected.

When and where to apply for license exchange

DGT (Spanish Driving Organism) established 31st December 2020 as the deadline for submitting applications for the exchange, replacement or renewal of licences issued by the United Kingdom.

Once the application has been submitted, an appointment must be made at the Traffic Headquarters or Office where the application for exchange was made.

Documentation needed to apply for the exchange of the licence

The documentation to be presented is the Exchange Application Form, which can be found on DGT website, an original and valid proof of residence in Spain, the licence to be exchanged or replaced, proof of payment and a photograph (32x26 mm) in colour and with a plain background.

Cost of the procedure and how to submit the exchange

The fee established by the DGT for the exchange of a British driving licence for another in Spain is 28,58 euros; for replacement 20,60 euros; and in the case of renewal 24,34 euros.

Those over 70 years of age can do the procedure free of charge. Payment can be made online on the DGT's payment website or in person at any Traffic Headquarters or member bank.

Once the application has been submitted, after 3 days you can make an appointment at the same Traffic Office where the application was made.

When requesting the appointment, bear in mind that under "Type of procedure" you must choose the option "Office procedures" and then under "Area" the city where the Traffic Office is located.

The procedure can either be carried out by the holder or by an authorised person, and you can give them permission either through the DGT's Register of powers of attorney or with the authorisation form "Otorgamiento de representación" (Granting of representation).

If you choose to have someone else carry out the procedure for you, when requesting the appointment you must specify both your DNI and that of the authorised person.

Driving in Spain as a student or tourist

Like any third country tourist, if you are British and hold a valid UK driving licence, you can drive in Spain with a foreign licence within the legal period of residence.

The same applies for students who do not have their natural residence in Spain, i.e. who are resident for at least one hundred and eighty-five days in each calendar year.

Can I renew my UK driving licence in Spain?

To renew, you must follow the same process as for the exchange. It should be noted that there is not yet an agreement in place with the UK that automatically recognises and validates the foreign licence.

What to do if I have already requested the exchange, renewal or replacement of my licence

If you have applied for the exchange, renewal or replacement of your licence before 31st December, then you only have to apply for an appointment at the Jefatura Tráfico within the six-month grace period given by the Dirección General de Tráfico.

This date cannot be extended, so if you have not applied in time, you will have to obtain a new driving licence.

How to obtain a Spanish driving licence if I am unable to exchange it

Regardless of the category of vehicle you drive, you will have to take the theoretical, medical and practical test set by the DGT. The exams can be prepared at a driving school or on your own.

Driving schools, whether physical or online, can take care of the administrative process of applying for the tests in addition to the training.

The administrative costs and fees from the DGT will vary depending on the category of vehicle for which you are taking the test.

The documents required to obtain the new driving licence are the aptitude test application form, the psycho-physical test report, proof of payment of the required fees and an original, recent 32X26mm colour photograph.

How to obtain a Spanish driving license?

Prepare your theory exam for Driving Online. Practicatest has all the DGT exams.

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