Updated 6pm: And the EU Parliament has approved the Withdrawal Agreement. If anyone had any remnants of any doubt, they can no longer maintain them. The UK leaves the EU at 11pm this Friday, in 53 hours time.

Updated 5pm: The UK Government has issued THIS advice on travel to the EU from January next year. Of course the page will be updated with further information as negotiations continue and agreements might be reached throughout this year, and anyone who wishes can register for email updates.

Updated 4pm: To add to this morning’s update from the FCO about driving licences, that is the official UK stance. Nothing changes until the end of the year. BUT as of this morning, Tráfico is saying that they will not accept exchanges after Friday. They say they will advise if they are told anything different. DVLA meanwhile is not replying to any requests, and has not been for the last fortnight.

I know this will be seen as confusing, and I and others are already said to be making a fortune from “scaremongering”, but I give you the facts and you decide what to do with them. For the record, it is officially released info so if it’s “scaremongering” I am at worst a conduit rather than source, and for the absolute record, I do NO work in this field and so have not earned a single cent from anything related to Brexit. Nor intend to.

Updated 29 January: The FCO in Madrid has clarified about driving licence exchange applications. The 31 Jan deadline only applied to a No Deal situation and there is now a deal, already passed by the UK Parliament and to be passed by the EU Parliament later today. This means that the 31 deadline does not exist, and exchanges can be made throughout this year … and can be applied for at any time, but obviously the sooner the better. The FCO says:

We know there has been some confusion around the exchange of UK driving licences and whether you need to start the process by 31 January. The information currently on the DGT website referring to the need to register your details by 31 January would apply only to a no-deal scenario. The UK is set to leave the EU with a deal under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement. In practice this means that the rules around the exchange of UK licences will remain the same during the transition period. You will have until 31 December to exchange your UK licence for a Spanish one under the current rules, so there is no need to worry if you are unable to start the process before 31 January. But don’t leave it til the last minute – book an appointment on dgt.es as soon as you can. Remember you can exchange your licence anywhere in Spain – it doesn’t have to be where you are officially resident. Once you have made the exchange, your Spanish licence will be accepted in the UK when you visit and you can exchange it for a UK licence again should you return to the UK permanently.

Updated 28 January: British Consul Charmaine Arbouin has sent the following message to British nationals in Spain.  

The Withdrawal Agreement which sets out how the UK leaves the EU has now passed into UK law, which, once the European Parliament has ratified it this week, means that the UK is leaving the EU with a deal on 31 January.

This is very positive news for UK nationals who are resident in Spain, as the Withdrawal Agreement contains some really important protections for your rights:

  • You will be able to continue to live and work in Spain
  • UK state pensioners will continue to have lifelong healthcare as long as they remain living in Spain. This also applies to residents who claim a UK state pension in the future
  • Your UK state pension will continue to be uprated
  • You will be able to exchange your driving licence until the end of 2020 without taking a driving test and your Spanish licence will be accepted in the UK when you visit

Those rights will be protected for as long as you live in Spain, provided you are legally resident here by the end of 2020.

The Withdrawal Agreement also provides an Transition Period (from 31 January until 31 December) during which time nothing will change for UK Nationals in Spain.

Charmaine Arbouin said: “The approval of the Withdrawal Agreement is a very important step for UK nationals living here. It provides reassurance on key rights, such as being able to continue to live and work here, and for pensioners to have lifelong healthcare and uprated pensions. Alongside those rights, you have obligations – the main one being to make sure you are registered with a green residency certificate. This remains a valid document after 31 January and we will communicate any details on future residency processes once we have them. For further information visit the Living in Spain Guide on gov.uk”.

To view the latest video message from HMA Hugh Elliott to UK nationals visit HERE.

To put your questions to HMA Hugh Elliott and Regional Consular Policy Adviser Lorna Geddie join our Facebook Live Q&A on Friday 31 January at midday (CET) HERE.

Information for UK nationals can be found at gov.uk/livinginspain