British expats struggling to get back on the roads in Mallorca. | Majorca Daily Bulletin reporter


British residents in Mallorca are having “sleepless nights”, according to one reader, over the ongoing driving licence exchange saga because the DGT Spanish traffic department is refusing to accept paper licences.

This is despite assurances from the British Embassy that they are valid for exchange. There are doubts over whether Britons who have a paper licence, which is still valid in the UK and elsewhere in the world, can be used to drive on until the current window closes in the middle of September.

DGT sources told the Bulletin this week that they have been given no notification regarding the validity of UK paper licences and are therefore refusing to accept them.

The DVLA in the UK have said these licences should be accepted but have pointed out there is little more they can do to help and that it is a matter for the British government to resolve with Spain.

The Bulletin has asked the embassy for a clear explanation as to what the real situation is and advice with regard to how this problem can be overcome and the embassy has issued this statement:

“DVLA stopped issuing paper licences over 20 years ago, however many are still in circulation and are exchangeable under the Agreement.When the photocard licence was initially introduced it was accompanied by a paper counterpart which contained information that could not be included on the photocard such as endorsements.
The paper counterpart was abolished by DVLA in 2015 and people were advised to destroy them. Information previously recorded on the paper counterpart can now be accessed using the “view or share your driving licence information” (check code) page.
You can refer the DGT to the full Agreement below:

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BOE-A-2023-8050 Aplicación provisional del Acuerdo en forma de Canje de Notas Verbales entre el Reino de España y el Reino Unido de Gran Bretaña e Irlanda del Norte sobre el reconocimiento recíproco y el canje de los permisos nacionales de conducir y sobre el intercambio de información sobre infracciones de tráfico en materia de seguridad vial, hecho en Madrid el 15 de marzo de 2023.

The British Embassy has been in regular contact with the DGT regarding implementation of the Agreement and is working to resolve outstanding issues.”
In the meantime the Bulletin has been alerted to another problem.
A reader has written this letter:

The Editor,
Further to your reporting of licence exchange difficulties for those with paper licences, I would like to make you aware of a further problem.

People who have had their licences expire during the exchange negotiations are being denied exchange as DGT will only accept an on-line check code verification and the DVLA check code summary does not include the entitlement detail DGT require - the sections which normally contain this information just state ‘Licence expired’.

Those of us affected have done nothing wrong. We have residency status in Spain and had valid licences when entering the country and therefore qualified for exchange as per the agreement. We could not, of course, renew our UK licences when they expired by virtue of being Spanish - and therefore not UK - resident.

Despite numerous approaches to both DGT and DVLA they appear intransigent and, thus far, the British Embassy have not acknowledged - let alone addressed - the issue.
Perhaps the Bulletin may wish to investigate this matter further.

Michael Wood