Beware When Driving Your Car in Europe
Spanish police are cracking down on British registered cars after driving licence deal. Other EU countries may follow.
If you drive your car on Spanish roads on your holidays, you may find yourself being pulled over by the Spanish police or Guardia Civil as part of a crackdown on UK registered cars. They’re not actually targeting tourists, but UK visitors to Spain are bound to get caught up in the campaign.
Why the Crackdown?
After Brexit, the gift that keeps on taking, British residents in Spain were given a deadline of May 1st, 2022, to exchange their UK driving licence for a Spanish licence. Drivers who failed to swap their licence in time were no longer allowed to drive in Spain unless they took a Spanish theory and practical driving test. This meant that many residents, especially in isolated areas, were stranded and unable to use their cars.
The British and Spanish governments entered into long, drawn out negotiations to try and resolve the situation. One of the final sticking points was that the Spanish authorities wanted greater access to the UK’s DVLA database so they could check the legality of UK registered vehicles belonging to British citizens who are resident in Spain. Agreement was finally reached for the exchange of licences after two years of negotiations.
Now that the Spanish police can access the details of British drivers and vehicles through the DVLA database, they are routinely stopping UK registered cars to ensure they are taxed and have a valid MOT or ITV, the Spanish equivalent. UK residents in Spain must also change their number plate after 30 days of its import to Spain. Failure to meet the requirements can see the car impounded and heavy fines dished out.
So, Why Should Tourists Care?
If you’re driving your car in Spain while on holiday, the police aren’t too bothered if your car is taxed or has an MOT. However, you could get stopped by the police checking for illegal residents’ vehicles. If they find fault with your car you could face an on-the-spot fine.
Also, before the police had access to DVLA information, it was difficult to locate British motorists who committed offences such as speeding, driving in restricted areas, or illegal parking that were caught on ANPR cameras. Now, with new tools at their disposal, they can pursue offenders even after they return home.
Other EU nations could seek similar powers to prosecute British drivers. The best advice for travelling abroad is to familiarise yourself with the rules of the road in the countries you’ll be visiting and don’t break any laws.
Moving to Spain? Change Your Personalised Number Plate
If you’re thinking about moving to Spain permanently and taking your car with you, bear in mind that you will have to reregister the vehicle with Spanish number plates. That means if you have a personalised number plate, you will lose it unless you change the registration before you move.
You could ask at CarReg for a free valuation to find out if it’s worth you selling the plate. Or, if you want to keep the private number plate, you can transfer it to a retention certificate to use again or sell in the future.