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Many UK residents in Spain have been unable to drive since May last year. FILE PHOTO
UK ambassador says deal to swap British licences for Spanish ones will get approval soon

UK ambassador says deal to swap British licences for Spanish ones will get approval soon

Hugh Elliott said he understood the frustrations of those affected after a deluge of comments when an apparently similar deal with Spain and New Zealand got the green light but not the British one

SUR in English

Thursday, 23 February 2023, 11:17

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British Ambassador Hugh Elliott has responded to criticism from many British nationals who are still not able to drive in Spain because the post-Brexit process to swap a UK licence to a Spanish one has not yet been approved by the Spanish Cabinet.

Elliott said on his Twitter account on Wednesday (22 February), «I understand the frustration of those [UK citizens] affected and I, and my team, are doing all we can working with Spain to get you back on the roads as soon as possible.»

New Zealand deal

The statement came after an exchange deal with New Zealand was approved by the Spanish government in recent days. However the British Embassy said this week that the deal with New Zealand approved by Spain was different and not comparable to the arrangement recently negotiated between Madrid and London for UK nationals which is pending final approval.

Many people had been in touch with the Embassy bemused that a New Zealand arrangement had got the rubber stamp from Spanish ministers but not the arrangement with Britain. The Embassy explained that the British deal will allow those stopped from driving in recent months to start driving again immediately ahead of swapping their permits and not have to wait to drive again.

Missed deadline

Many British nationals who came to live in Spain after Brexit, or who were already living in Spain but missed the Brexit deadline for the easier swap of their UK driving licence to a Spanish one, have been in limbo since May last year.

In a bureaucratic hiccup, no new post-Brexit swap arrangement between Britain and Spain had been approved between both countries. After six months living in Spain, non EU citizens have to have a Spanish licence. The only alternative available for UK nationals since May last year has been to take a Spanish driving test from scratch, which can be a long process.

The new system, which, according to the Embassy, is expected to be approved by the Spanish Cabinet «within the next few weeks», will make it easier for UK nationals without a Spanish licence to swap their UK one.

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