Uncertainty over Blue Badges hits expats and holidaymakers

There has been a lot of confusion concerning the validity of the British disabled parking permits in Spain following the UK's exit from the EU

TONY BRYANT FUENGIROLA.

One of the concerns for disabled expats living on the Costa del Sol is the time it takes to receive a parking permit - or Blue Badge - issued by the Spanish authorities. These worries have been added to by lack of certainty over whether British-issued Blue Badges are still valid in Spain after Brexit for both residents or holidaymakers.

In order to qualify for a Spanish-issued Blue Badge, a resident needs to go through the disability registration process. This has become a hurdle for many British expats, a problem pointed out by Linda Ewen, the welfare officer of Age Concern Fuengirola, Mijas and Benalmádena.

"In order to obtain a Spanish disability badge, people need to first make an appointment with their own doctor, who will then refer them to social services.

"We are currently helping a lady who has been waiting for two years to receive her Spanish Blue Badge, but the process is long and there doesn't seem to be any sensible explanation for the delay. This is totally unacceptable, but that is how it is," Linda explained to SUR in English.

Although the charity cannot directly help with the actual process of registering as disabled, it can help people with information about where and how to register. It can also provide a translator to deal with the process, which is another "problem for many elderly Brits living on the coast".

"It has always been the same here in Spain. Even in the UK, it takes quite some time to receive a badge, but nowhere near as long as here. I know there is a backlog due to the pandemic, but I think the problem goes back further than this. We are constantly hearing about people struggling because of the wait. This is a big problem and something that needs addressing as soon as possible," she said.

Spain is one of several EU countries that no longer recognises the UK vehicle Blue Badge following Brexit.

The British government's gov.uk website states that UK disability parking badges are not currently recognised in Spain but negotiations are ongoing with several EU countries about possible acceptance.

It adds that those wishing to park on disabled spots in Spanish towns must be in possession of a Spanish disability badge. The website goes on to say that the international guidelines are "subject to change", advising travellers to Spain and expats living in Spain to check with the Spanish embassy or even their town council for any local rules.

However, although some other EU countries do not accept the British permit, such as Portugal, Italy, France, Greece and Luxembourg, there are many that will: these include Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Germany and The Netherlands.