British expats in Spain ‘panicking’ over October Brexit deadline: ‘They were let down’

EU slammed for 'illegal and unfair' treatment of British expats

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In preparation for Brexit, Britons who are resident in Spain were advised by the Spanish and UK Governments to exchange their UK driving licence for a Spanish one. Non-EU citizens in Spain can drive on their licence for up to six months from their arrival in Spain, before they have to switch to a Spanish licence. After the Brexit transition period expired at the end of last year, UK driving licences were to be considered third-country documents by the EU.

The Spanish Government set a deadline of June 30 this year – six months after the Brexit rules started being applied – for British expats to get a Spanish licence.

The deadline, after which UK licences were to become invalid, was then extended until October 31 – this Sunday.

Despite negotiations between London and Madrid, a further extension has not yet been agreed.

Some British expats are now “panicking” about the deadline, according to Darren Parmenter, a British councillor in Spain.

Originally from East London, he has lived in Spain for 32 years, and is a councillor for the PSOE party in the Costa Blanca town of San Fulgencio, an area with a high proportion of British expats.

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Mr Parmenter told that he knew of some expats who tried to register their intent to exchange their licence but were unsuccessful.

He said: “I’m aware of people that did ask certain representatives to make their intention known.

“And for whatever reason, they didn’t do it on their behalf. So, they’re now panicking even though they tried to do it 100 percent correctly.

“They were let down by their legal representatives.

“I’ve actually had people in my office who said they spoke to their legal representative, who said ‘yeah, we’ll get it sorted’ and it wasn’t done.”

For UK Nationals who registered their intent to swap over their licence by December 30 last year, their licence will still become invalid on October 31.

However, people in this group will still be able to exchange their licence for a Spanish one until the end of this year without having to take a new practical driving test.

British holidaymakers and other UK licence holders on short visits to Spain can continue using their licences.

Mr Parmenter explained the situation for people who registered their intention to exchange their licence before December 30.

He said: “Under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement they had until December 30 last year to indicate their wish to exchange from a UK to a Spanish driving licence if they hadn’t done so already.

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“For those that did that they did that through the DGT (Spanish transport office) and through their legal representatives.

“Those that did that, they have until December 31 to actually get their Spanish licence.

“So, they actually indicated that they wanted to change.

“Now, those that didn’t indicate that they wanted to exchange their licence before December 30 last year, they’re the ones whose licences technically become invalid after October 31.

“For whatever reason, I’m aware of people that didn’t apply or didn’t make their intention known.”

The British councillor said the pandemic had impacted the availability of appointments for people to change their licence over, but that more slots are being made available.

He said: “Obviously COVID-19 caused a few problems in terms of getting appointments in the early part of the year.

“I think the Spanish authorities fully take that into account when it comes to getting appointments.

“There were people that left it until the last minute, but provided they showed that intention to exchange before December 30 last year, then they have until the end of this year to get it in process.

“And my understanding is that there are more appointments available for that process to be completed.”
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