New guidance published by the Department for Transport reveals the upheaval a ‘no deal’ Brexit will cause for those looking to drive in EU countries.

Britain’s 43,000 citizens living in Holland will have to re-take their driving test if they do not apply for a Dutch driving licence by 31 October, according to new ‘No Deal Brexit’ advice from the Department for Transport.

Likewise in Spain, any of the 300,000 British citizens who have not exchanged their licence by 31 October will have to pass a medical test to continue driving to get a new licence.

These are just two of a whole plethora of confusing and chaotic rules that will vary from country to country when the British driving licence is no longer recognised by the EU. 

The UK’s 1.3 million citizens living in the 27 EU member state countries will face different rules and deadlines for applications and compulsory medical checks before they can drive again in some countries.

At present, the rules are very simple – every UK citizen living in the EU can swap their UK driving licence for a national licence, which can be used in any of the 27 countries, as UK licences are recognised by the EU. These rules also cover countries in the European Economic Area – Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

The Driver Vehicle Licensing Authority is now advising all British nationals living in the EU and EEA countries to exchange their UK licence as a precaution against a  ‘no deal’ Brexit. 

But after 31 October, under a ‘no deal’, time limits will be imposed for UK residents to exchange their driving licences. In Ireland, for instance, where that been a rush for licences with 30,000 applications so far this year, applications close on 1 November. 

In Holland, the guidance states: “Under rules in Holland if you register as a resident after the date that the UK leaves the EU you must retake your driving test within 185 days to obtain a Dutch driving licence.”

In Belgium and Finland, all UK motorcyclists will have to re-take their driving tests if they don’t apply for national licences before 31 October. Those with a trailer on their car will also have to re-take their driving test in Finland.

In Spain, Croatia and Romania, all UK residents will have to undertake a compulsory medical examination to get a driving licence after the UK has left the EU. The rules in Spain could affect more than 300,000 people if they do not exchange their UK licence by 31 October.


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In Luxembourg, any UK citizen who drives a lorry or a bus will have to re-take their driving test if they apply after 31 October for a driving licence.

In Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Malta, Hungary and Iceland, UK citizens will have a year to exchange their driving licence and won’t have to take another driving test. In Portugal, this is being reduced to 90 days, in the Czech Republic to three months, and, in Poland, to six months. It looks as though Slovakia will not be introducing any new restrictions on getting a national licence.

The Department for Transport advice is silent on the matter in France, Germany, Italy, Denmark, Austria, Sweden, Slovenia, Greece, Lithuania and Cyprus. It also only covers one of the three EEA countries, with no advice provided on Norway or Liechtenstein.

People taking foreign holidays after 31 October will have to have an international driving licence to drive in the EU as a UK driving licence won’t be recognised on its own. They will also need a separate green card for any caravan or trailer they take to the EU.

There could also be changes to the rules if a UK citizen has a motor accident as they may have to apply to a foreign court to claim against an EU driver.

Urgent talks are taking place to try to protect UK drivers who have accidents with drivers abroad who are uninsured to ensure that they can be compensated following a ‘no deal’ Brexit.

The UK is not imposing any restrictions on people living here with an EU driving licence or people from the EU visiting the UK on holiday.

The full guidance, which has only just been published, can be read here.

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