Hugh Elliott, the UK ambassador to Spain. / sur

Ambassador gives update on UK driving licence situation in Spain

Hugh Elliott said on Friday that the two countries have reached agreement on problematic core issues and those affected might be back on the road around the end of July

Debbie Bartlett
DEBBIE BARTLETT

Hugh Elliott, the UK ambassador to Spain, has indicated that British nationals who have been unable to exchange their driving licences for Spanish ones and are therefore no longer legally able to drive could be back on the road by the end of July.

In a video posted on the embassy's Brits in Spain Facebook page, the ambassador stressed that the authorities have been working on resolving the problem every day and he said that although he knows that those affected want to know when they can drive again, he could not give a precise date.

However, there was some encouraging news: he explained that the UK and Spain have reached agreement on the core issues which have been problematic until now, and are very close to finalising the actual text of the agreement.

When that is done - and he indicated that it could be as soon as this week - there will be legal clearances, language checks and final political approvals that both countries will have to go through, and as this agreement will be in the form of an international Treaty, certain procedures will also be necessary, such as approval by Spain's cabinet of ministers.

"Only weeks away"

The ambassador stressed that as the processes are not entirely in the UK's hands, he couldn't make any promises about timescale, but he could give a best estimate.

"We are looking at a date of having you back on the road around the end of July," he said. "Although this is only weeks away I know it will feel like a very long time," he added, saying that the authorities are doing everything they can at every point to try to accelerate and advance matters as quickly as they can.

He sympathised with people who are experiencing real difficulties because they are not permitted to drive in Spain because of these licence problems, and said he does not underestimate how challenging these are.

He encouraged people who are affected to explore local support options available, although he said he recognised that in some places these are limited at best, and he recommended that anyone who is very vulnerable should contact their local consulate for help.