Spain wants automatic access to DVLA database in return for driving licence extension

Latest update on UK driving licences in Spain from the British Ambassador, Hugh Elliott

Image of UK European driving licence. Image:

Britain and Spain are working to formalise an agreement that will allow Brits who stay in Spain longer than six months, a driving licence extension that won’t require them to exchange their licence for a Spanish one.

It is understood, however, that as part of any agreement, Spain wants the UK to share details that will allow the country to more effectively pursue those who speed and commit other traffic offences after they return home.

According to The Telegraph, negotiations have accelerated after the Spanish authorities refused to extend an interim arrangement that allowed Brits who stay longer than six months, to use their British driving licence legally.

Despite adequate notice from the Spain government and significant warnings from the British Embassy in Madrid and others, many British people resident in Spain have failed to swap their licences. That has left some stranded without transport.

María José Aparicio of Spain’s DGT driver and vehicle licensing authority said: “We never wanted to upset British residents and the plan is that once they have been able to apply for the swap, hopefully in a few weeks, they can start driving again while the application is processed.”

Aparacio said Madrid had tired of “the UK dragging its feet” on the key Spanish demand that an automated system of driver data exchange be set up to allow for fines to be delivered to UK-based drivers who commit road offences in Spain.

“This situation was provoked by Britain leaving the EU, so we expect a bit more of an effort to reach a deal.”

The reluctance by the UK is said to be down to the simple fact that no other EU country had asked for UK-registered vehicle data to deliver fines automatically. Currently, the information is available on request on a case-by-case basis.

Those Brits living in Spain who have fallen foul of the change have complained that the system is unfair, with other countries in the EU not having demanded licences be exchanged. The majority have however accepted that a driving licence extension would not be forthcoming and have made the switch.

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Written by

Peter McLaren-Kennedy

Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at


    • Steve Rees-Thompson

      06 May 2022 • 15:22

      We arrived on a non lucrative visa in Aug 2021. We have been given a residency card for 1 year that is renewed for a 2 year period later. We wanted to exchange our licences but were not allowed as we arrived after 31st Dec 2020. We just wish to exchange our licence for a Spanish one. Spain is preventing this from happening. This is racist and prejudice. We have brought so much money to spend in Spain. Why are they doing this?.

    • W.tuffield

      06 May 2022 • 21:28

      After reading the update regarding driving license’s,
      Is it going to be possible to exchange the UK license for a Spanish license without having to take a Spanish driving test,some of us did start to make arrangements to exchange then the pandemic caused all-sorts of drama ,I haven’t got a problem exchanging my license but the system must be re-opened to allow us to do so,it’s been a difficult time for everyone trying to keep our heads above water let alone worrying about a driving licence, hopefully the Spanish government will understand and let us residents exchange with no cause for any more worry and stress🙏.

    • Jan

      06 May 2022 • 22:16

      Oh dear. UK based drivers? No, this is in relation to UK license holders who are resident in Spain and not UK based at all.
      Yes, those resident pre Brexit had ample time to exchange but some did register their intent and were let down by their legal reps or the DGT themselves. Others became resident after the cut off date to register to exchange their licence so never had the opportunity to do so. Now they are left unable to drive their cars as their UK license is invalid and their are huge waiting times to take driving lessons (mandatory) and then to get test dates.
      Spanish license holders who become resident in the UK can do a straight swap. We would like it reciprocated.
      We appreciate the efforts being made to make an exchange possible but please get your information correct.

    • Shayla

      06 May 2022 • 23:17

      This is a very oversimplification of a very complex issue. Many people did register before the deadline, some were let down by lawyers and gestores, and other people only got their withdrawal agreement residency resolution after the driving license deadline. None of us have been sitting on our traseros just waiting awesome magical resolution, we’ve been relocating, managing all the paperwork of residency, leaving loved ones behind, changing jobs, selling and buying homes. Had the option been available to change our license the majority of us would have done it in a heartbeat but there was no option. The driving theory test is a nightmare, the English translation is not acceptable in a country that values English so much as a language for business and commerce and invests so heavily in English education for their children, the theory exam for many of us who do speak Spanish is still challenging and there are no test dates anywhere not even here in Madrid. I’m surprised for someone who lives in Spain and as the author of this article you should understand how frightening this is for the most vulnerable within our communities, to not be able to use their cars for work, hospital appointments, taking children to school, those that live in isolated areas with no public transport. Maybe your article should have had that focus rather this oversimplification of a very life changing issue has left many people desperate and suicidal.

    • Tara

      07 May 2022 • 18:50

      This article is totally misleading. Some residents didn’t get the option to exchange their licenses; those who got their residencies in 2021 or later, and those who registered intent to swap and were lost in the system. Very unfair to say ‘despite adequate notice’ when people could potentially lose their jobs because they can no longer get to work, after they’ve never had the option to swap. Is it feasible to expect people who live in places which aren’t accessible by public transport to put their lives on hold for weeks to take another test from scratch ? And how will they even get there?

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