Brexit: Spanish police to be like ‘bees around honeypot’ with British cars amid new rules

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Britain left the EU on January 31, 2020, and the Brexit transition period lasted until the end of last year. Now Britain has withdrawn from the EU, it is considered a third country by the 27-member bloc, and thus freedom of movement between the UK and the EU has ended. For the roughly 360,000 British expats registered as living in Spain, this has meant some changes to their way of life.

UK nationals living in Spain were encouraged by the British and Spanish governments to prepare for Brexit in several ways.

One of these was the requirement for Brits to exchange their UK driving licence for a Spanish one by October 31.

After this deadline, UK licences will become invalid, and so far, no extension has been agreed between the British and Spanish authorities.

Britons are also only permitted to drive UK-registered cars in Spain for up to six months, because the Spanish government considers people as residing in Spain if they are in the country for more than 183 days of the year.

British councillor Bill Anderson, who moved to Spain in 2002, has told Express.co.uk that he thinks Spanish police will be on the lookout for UK-registered cars after the October 31 deadline.

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Mr Anderson is from Edinburgh and has represented Spain’s PP party in the town of Mijas on the Costa del Sol since 2019.

He said: “The issues have been there, but I think as far as with the EU, there were a lot of things that nobody really bothered about.

“But if you’re getting a parking fine or you get stopped for speeding, and they decide to check the validity of your UK-registered car here in Spain, I think it’s less likely to happen to somebody who has an EU-registered car.

“But UK-registered cars now, I think will be a bit like bees around the honeypot for the police, they’ll get their quota of fines and things.”

Another new Brexit rule for British people driving in Spain was introduced last month.

From September 28 it became a requirement for Brits to display a ‘UK’ sticker or magnet on the rear of their vehicle, replacing the old ‘GB’ sticker or magnet.

The new UK Government guidance – which covers Brits driving in Spain and the rest of the EU – states: “If you have a GB sticker, cover or remove it.”

Mr Anderson said police will be asking “is this car now legal?” and claimed that some Britons may be unprepared for the Brexit changes.

He added: “I don’t think they would have bothered that much pre-Brexit.

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“There are a lot of Brits out here and the vast majority have done everything by the book and probably always have.

“But there are a minority of Brits out here who I think have been saying right up to last week, ‘it will never happen to us because we’re British’.

“I don’t think the impact that we are no longer part of the European Union has hit some people yet.

“I don’t think it’s really registered, you know ‘we had an empire, we’ve got a Commonwealth’.

“Yes, but we’re no longer part of the European Union, and some people haven’t registered this.

“Even for example to do with the blue disabled badges that you have for cars, they are no longer valid here in Spain.

“So, people living here have renewed their disability badge in the UK and have been using it here, but they will no longer be valid, and it’s something nobody thought about.”
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