Driving abroad: RAC's tips for driving in Europe
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British expats have blasted Spanish bureaucrats after they were banned from driving in Spain following a failure to reach an agreement on UK driving licences. Tens of thousands of Britons living in Spain are banned from using their UK driving licence on Spanish roads.
However, the change does not apply to holidaymakers who are exempt from the new rule and will still be able to use their licence.
Until now, Britons living in Spain have been able to use their DVLA-issued licences.
In response to the news, British expats have taken to social media to complain about the “backwards” policy, which has left some unable to travel to work or their local town.
Ward Priestman, who lives in Spain with his wife Ann-Marie, said the Covid pandemic “delayed Spanish residency permits being issued”.
It also left him unable to sign up with a driving school to start the process.
Mr Priestman wrote in the Brits in Spain Facebook group, saying: “That’s us screwed. Due to the pandemic, our ties were delayed and we didn’t get them until the April after the deadline.
“I have no idea what we are going to do, we live up in the mountains in the middle of nowhere.
“Why on earth is this so hard?”
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According to USwitch, passing a driving test in Spain is almost double the cost in the UK and averages between £700 and £1,100.
Although lessons are slightly cheaper, taking the theory test is £50 more expensive than the UK, with Spanish tests also requiring registration fees alongside a copy of health documents.
Another expat, David Waddington, said there was “no reason” why there should be extra issues.
He added: “It’s a total disgrace!
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“There is clearly some unrelated issue going on in the background. If licences could be switched before Brexit without a problem, there is absolutely no reason why they can’t be switched now.
“Why are people like me who are suffering from this situation being kept in the dark as to what is really going on.
“And personally I have no problem sharing my DVLA data with the Spanish authorities.”
Conservative MP Sir Iain Duncan Smith criticised the Spanish Government, claiming: “It’s a case of ‘Manana, manana (tomorrow, tomorrow)’.
“It’s time they pull their finger out and do what they agreed.”
A Foreign Office spokesperson said: “An agreement to swap UK driving licences for Spanish licences has not yet been reached.
“From May 1, UK licence holders who have been resident in Spain for more than six months and did not exchange their licence during the transition period will no longer be able to drive legally in Spain.
“We have agreed to rapidly accelerate talks and are urging the Spanish Government to bring forward interim measures.”
Until a new deal is struck, UK expats will need to obtain a Spanish driving licence before getting back behind the wheel.
One driver, using the Twitter handle Tenerife Unlocked, said the new policy means they couldn’t go to work, nor could they continue their work with a dog charity.
They added that it was “absolutely ridiculous” as motorists were able to switch their driving licences prior to Brexit.
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