Exchange of foreign driving licences
There was a lot of publicity earlier this year and at the end of last year regarding the new laws being implemented regarding foreign driving licences. As we are now approaching the end of 2015 the DGT amnesty that was introduced in March of this year regarding fines and the time permitted to get paperwork in order will expire on New Year’s Day 2016. There is no doubt that fines will be implemented by the Guardia Civil Tráfico department and it is almost certain that no excuses will be accepted.
Full and detailed information was published by the DGT when this amnesty was introduced and we have covered this subject on various occasions throughout this year to assist both existing and potential clients of the situation so that they could prepare and present the necessary paperwork for verification if necessary, and to complete an exchange for a Spanish Driving Licence. It is very important to remember that as the deadline is approaching so is the Christmas period where things slow down and we have been advised that there will be zero tolerance.
If your driving licence has an indefinite date such as the Belgians and Germans or has longer than 15 years left to run on it and you have been LEGALLY RESIDENT in Spain from before the 19th January 2013, then you should have already exchanged your foreign licence for a Spanish licence. If however you became a resident after that date then you would have had two years after the official date of first residency in which to exchange your foreign licence. If your licence has expired or is about to expire then you must by Law renew in your country of residency and if this is Spain then you must renew/exchange it here for a Spanish licence. A Spanish licence is a European licence and apart from the fact that no address is display on it, due to data protection laws, it is in effect exactly the same as your British one although printed in Spanish. It can be used to drive in exactly the same way as your UK one and is valid in all European countries for driving and hiring a car.
After the 1st of January if you are stopped and simply deny that you live in Spain you are quite likely to find yourself in more trouble. There are many advantages to holding a Spanish licence in so much as it can be used to identify yourself when using a credit card to pay, the majority of shops and other establishments accept this as proof of identity. Also if you are unfortunate to be stopped by the police and are issued with a fine, they will already have your information on computer including your NIE number address etc. and will issue you with a fine but will NOT demand that it is paid on the spot like a foreign driver, and you will be permitted time to pay and also if you pay within this time you will normally receive a 50% reduction of the amount shown, normally payable in any Santander Bank or Correos Office. Any points applied will also be applied directly to you on the system, which you are able to check online on the DGT web site.
We cannot stress strongly enough that for those of you who have started the process either directly, with us or with any other person it MUST be completed before the end of the year. If you are actually resident and have not started the process then it is in your interest to start NOW. The DVLA have at times been very slow in issuing verifications of UK licences and with Christmas coming up you can be sure that verifications will not be quick.