UK motorists warned of huge licence changes when driving in Europe

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Following Brexit, new rules had to be introduced to allow UK drivers with DVLA-issued driving licences to use them to drive in European countries when living there. The Government has been engaging with European Governments in a bid to clarify rules surrounding UK-issued driving licences, with new rules unveiled just weeks ago.


UK drivers in Spain were given concessions last year, allowing them to continue using their DVLA-issued licence until April 30, 2022.

However, From May 1, 2022, if they have been a resident for more than six months and have not exchanged their UK licence for a Spanish one, they will no longer be able to drive using their UK licence.

If a driver has a Blue Badge in the UK and lives in Spain, it must be returned to the original UK issuing authority. They will then have to apply for a new Spanish disabled parking card.

The “Brits in Spain” Facebook page is continually updating drivers in the UK about the developments in the negotiations and if any breakthroughs have been made.

In a video posted before Christmas, Hugh Elliott, the ambassador of the UK to Spain, stated that the agreement between British and Spanish authorities was done, with “technical wording” still being resolved.

“He said that both sides would continue to work together to get the agreement signed, adding that he would share more information on the consulate’s page as soon as he knew it.

Mr Elliott added: “Specifically, the situation is that on the UK side, the necessary authorisations are in place, pending resolution of some final points of technical wording. On which we are waiting for Spain to get back to us.”

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Shortly before Christmas, amendments were made meaning rules that apply to EU driving licences continue to apply to UK driving licences in Portugal until December 31, 2023. 

This means that until this date, it is possible to drive in Portugal on a UK driving licence issued by the DVLA (in England, Scotland and Wales) or DVA (in Northern Ireland).

To continue driving in Portugal as a resident, they must register their driving licence with the Portuguese Institute for Mobility and Transport (IMT).

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Anyone must do this within 60 days of the issue date on their residence certificate, or immediately if they have already been in Portugal for more than 60 days.

Alternatively, they can exchange their UK driving licence for a Portuguese one now.

These arrangements will change on January 1, 2024. Depending on their circumstances, they may need to exchange their licence.

From January 2024, expats will be able to continue driving using a UK licence if they are under 60, have a valid licence which was issued or renewed in the last 15 years, only driving vehicles in categories A and B and are not disqualified from driving.


On December 23, 2022, the British and Italian Governments signed a long-term agreement for exchanging driving licences. 

After its entry into force, if someone is a resident in Italy, they will be able to exchange their UK licence for an Italian one without the need to take a test.

If someone was a resident in Italy before January 1, 2023, they can use their UK licence until December 31, 2023.

They will need to exchange their UK licence within the period and a test is currently required to exchange their licence.

Motorists cannot drive a non-Italian registered car in Italy after they have been a resident in Italy for 60 days or more.

If they move to Italy with their UK-registered car, they must register their car with Italian licence plates within 60 days of being officially resident in Italy. If they do not do this, the car may be impounded.

If someone has a UK Blue Badge and live in Italy, they must return it to the original UK issuing authority and have to apply for a new Italian disabled parking card.

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