TO THE relief of hundreds if not thousands of people across Spain, this week the Spanish Cabinet finally approved a deal on driving licence exchange with the United Kingdom. The move brought an end to the more than 10 months of hell endured by foreign residents of the country with UK licences, after they were banned from the roads on May 1 of last year until yesterday, March 16.
Since Thursday, victims of this situation have been able to legally take to Spain’s roads once more, and now have a six-month period to exchange their UK licences for Spanish ones.
It’s a situation that has affected not just UK nationals but also people from Ireland, Germany, Spain, France… Basically, anyone who is a resident in Spain and holds a UK-issued licence, and either did not, or could not, swap the document for a Spanish one before a December 2020 deadline.
So what are the next steps to take if you want to swap your licence? As usual in Spain, there is a certain amount of bureaucracy to negotiate.
Some people are opting to use a gestor to navigate the situation. However, as many have pointed out on social media, trusting the process to a gestor is what left a lot of people without their Spanish licences in the first place.
So if you decide to do it yourself, here’s the information you need to know.
Before you start. It is important to note that Spain will not swap a UK licence that has been obtained after you were granted Spanish residency, nor if the licence was obtained after the agreement was approved by the Cabinet on March 14. If your UK licence expired after you became a resident, however, it still can be exchanged.
Psicotecnico test. As the British embassy in Madrid has been recommending for a while now, the first step in the process is to take what is called a psicotecnico test. You can find centres that carry out these tests at the website of Spain’s DGT traffic authority (link here). At the tests, they will ask for your residency card, driving licence and a photo. You will also be subject to questions about your health and whether or not you wear glasses. You will then have to pass a coordination test by moving two joysticks to keep two black lines within a track on a screen. This YouTube video shows you what to expect.
Problems with appointments? The Psicotecnico test has a validity of three months, so the next step is to get an appointment with the DGT to actually exchange your licence. According to victims of the situation, appointments are proving hard to get in some areas, in particular Madrid, Barcelona and Zaragoza. This bottleneck is expected to ease over the coming weeks, however, and has no doubt been caused by the spike in demand now that the exchange can go ahead. The important thing is to be seen before your psicotecnico test expires, and of course before the six-month deadline is up. You will still be able to exchange your licence after six months, but you will not be able to legally drive after this period.
How to book your appointment. You can call 060 in order to make an appointment, but you should only do this if you have a good level of Spanish. Ensure you take down all of the relevant details from your call. Alternatively you can use the DGT website to make your appointment. Follow this link to start the process. Choose your province from the first drop-down menu and then choose ‘Tramites de oficina’ in the second. Click on the “I’m not a robot box” and then “Continuar”. At this point you may find that there are no available appointments, in which case you will need to try again at a later date for your province to see if there are any available. If an appointment is available, however, you will have to fill out the form with your personal details, including your NIE number, email, phone and full name.
Before the appointment. It is important to get hold of a driving licence ‘check code’ before you go to the DGT. This code is usually used to share your UK driving record with a third party, such as a car hire company. The code will be valid for 21 days and you can get it from the gov.uk website at this link.
What else to take to the appointments. According to the DGT, you will need to take the application form available on the website for the process (available on this page, by clicking on the PDF symbol next to the words ‘Solicitud de canje’), your passport, residency card and psicotecnico test result. You must also, of course, take your UK driving licence, as well as a 32 x 26 mm colour photograph of yourself. You must also pay a €28.87 fee, Tasa 2.3, before attending your appointment. You can find the appropriate form to do so at this link and then pay the amount due at a local bank (full list here).
Provisional licences? According to people who have already been able to carry out the process at the DGT, some people have been issued provisional licences while some have come away empty-handed. You should insist you are given this document, as obviously it is preferable to be given a temporary licence until the Spanish one is ready, something that will take a month according to the DGT. The new licence will be sent by post to your home address.
More information. You can find more information at the gov.uk website and at dgt.es. You can also check the Brits in Spain Facebook group from the British Embassy, the Facebook campaigning group Invasion of the British Embassy and the Citizens Advice Bureau Spain.