It’s all change in the EU with this morning’s announcement from the European Parliament in Brussels of new driver licence rules for Summer 2015.
Historically it was possible for expats to retain their UK driver licence in their new country of residence, although it has generally been encouraged to get it swapped for a new one and in certain circumstances it became law as you can read about in the Reglamento General de Conductores.
To get around the issue and the ambiguity, the European Parliament has announced the launch of a new dual licence which you can get from May 1, allowing sufficient time for anyone applicable to get their paperwork in order before it becomes law on September 1 2015.
Avril Guasón, a Spanish representative from the European Parliament expressed her pleasure at the change. “It will simply remove any confusion,” she said before adding: “It will not only make checking licences easier but will also create jobs. The EU has promised funding to set up regional offices to monitor and facilitate the changes. Each office will have two multilingual members of staff to assist with enquiries in English, Spanish, German and French” Guasón went on to explain that translators will be on hand in the Tráfico offices from May 1 to help expats with their paperwork.
The dual licences ensure that no entitlements are lost. For example, simply swapping your UK drivers licence for a Spanish one without making Trafico aware of the differences could mean you lost the right to drive/ride vans and bikes over a certain size. These entitlements were not being replaced when the licence was reverted back to a UK licence. Now it is no longer an issue as both sets of guidelines and entitlements will be offered. However, as well as entitlements carrying over, so do any penalty points.
The new licences can only cover two countries at present: the country where your licence was originally issued and your current country of residence (provided you are there for more than 183 days per year). The new licences will carry three images in addition to the driver’s photograph: the country of original issue’s flag, the new country of residence’s flag and the EU logo.
At the moment, the new licences will only be rolled out across Europe, although the rest of the world is expected to be included within two years. Tráfico in Spain reacted to the announcement by saying that they will be upping spot-checks from September 1, allowing drivers time to ensure everything is in place beforehand.
In Spain you can get the new drivers’ licences from Tráfico and it costs a nominal €2.42 in Spain (€2 plus IVA). You must attend the Tráfico office in person, however, this can not be done by proxy. You will need to take your current driver licence, NIE or Certificado de Extranjero (if you have them), two passport sized photos and a medical certificate that proves you are fit to drive. These medical certificates are only accepted from approved doctors, a list of which was still being compiled at time of press. For other countries, please refer to the equivalent traffic office for guidelines.
The new licences expire after five years but we have been told that renewal will be free.
Temporary 30 day dual licences will be available from the issuing country for holidaymakers. These will take the form of stickers that can be displayed in the top right corner of the windscreen and will cover one driver. Multiple stickers will be needed if you are sharing the driving.
Anyone caught driving in a different European country after September 1 2015 without either a dual licence, or the 30 day temporary licence, will face 3 penalty points on their licence and a €750 fine.