Spain: British expats face threat of return to UK warns expert
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Some 360,000 British nationals are registered as residents in Spain, according to official figures, although hundreds of thousands more Brits are thought to reside in the country unofficially. After Brexit became reality on January 31 last year, British expats in Spain began preparing for the UK’s life outside the EU. The exchange of UK driving licences is among the raft of rules that Brits living in the EU member state must follow.
It has previously been a legal requirement that Brits living in Spain for more than six months must exchange their UK driving licence for a Spanish one.
However, after October 31 British licences will no longer be valid for any British expats registered as living in Spain.
After the Brexit transition period came to an end on December 31 last year, British licences were set to become invalid.
But as a temporary measure, the Spanish authorities agreed that they would recognise British licences until the end of this month.
With less than two weeks to go until the deadline, British councillor Bill Anderson, who lives on the Costa del Sol, has warned of the consequences for British expats who haven’t exchanged their licences.
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Originally from Edinburgh, Bill moved to Spain in 2002 and has represented Spain’s PP party in the town of Mijas since 2019.
He told Express.co.uk: “Basically, their right to drive will disappear.
“I think that anybody getting stopped after the end of this month with a British licence will feel the pinch of it really.
“Because it should have been changed when we became residents. Nobody bothered about it.”
Earlier this year, the Spanish Government already extended the validity of British licences from June 30 to October 31.
Negotiations are ongoing with the UK Government for another extension.
Brits who didn’t register to exchange their licence with the Spanish authorities before December 30, 2020, are now subject to the same process as other non-EU nationals.
This includes retaking their driving test in Spanish in order to gain a permit to drive in Spain.
Bill said he thinks the Spanish police are “going to come down heavy” on British expats that haven’t exchanged their licences.
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He said: “British licences are only going to be valid until the end of this month, October.
“And, if they haven’t got their application in to exchange their licences, then they’re going to have serious problems.
“They’re not going to be able to drive down here, and they will be checking that.
“I know as well, anecdotally, that they are checking out for British-registered vehicles.
“People would come here and spend as much time as they wanted because nobody checked it.
“And they’d bring their car down with them and it would be six, seven, eight months maybe in a year.
“My understanding is that they are checking up on British-registered vehicles.
“And it will be up to the owner of the vehicle to demonstrate how long it’s been registered here, not up to the Guardia Civil [one of Spain’s national police forces] to prove that they’ve been here over the time allocated.”
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