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1.              January 2009.  Latest on the need for foreigners (expats) with EU driving licences/DLs (not Spanish) resident in Spain to take the mandatory medicals.

There has been a lot of disbelief by many expats who have listened to those who are not "experts", often in some bar, and this includes some of the local Spanish authorities, of the legal need for those who are resident in Spain but hold foreign EU driving licences, e.g. a UK one, to have the same medicals that all Spanish drivers have to have as detailed in my book..  Some expats have actually been rather rude when telling me about what they have heard as if I am wrong and their "friends" are right. 

Also as I have found constantly, many Spanish clerks and minor officials who should know what the Spanish laws are concerning us expats are not up-to-date on this matter as detailed in the EU Directive and their own laws as noted below.   But they are human and the question probably does not arrive often enough so whether it is that the clerks concerned are lazy and are not reading the official boletines sent out from the head-offices or the head-offices are not making sure that the information is getting to all concerned properly has to be addressed urgently now to avoid the confusion that those expats and consulate officials who suffer from not reading my freely available information, or because they disbelieve it and believe others who are not specialists.  Whatever the reasons it has caused a lot of grief and placed many expats who have not had the mandatory medicals at risk of being fined by the police who do know or if after an accident, having their insurance policy payment refused due to driving with an expired DL. 

 According to a reader who took the trouble to advise me of a talk given by the British Consulate in Alicante area, when asked about the need, the audience of expats was told that they had phoned the local Trafico and had been told that medicals as taken by Spanish drivers and as specified in theREAL DECRETO 62/2006 of January 27, 2006, all resident foreign EU holders of foreign EU driving licences have to take the medicals just as the Spanish drivers have to.  I have been advising this for years now, since March 2005 in fact and there is adequate proof on my web-site as well with a copy of the letter sent out in February 2005 by the Ministerio del Interior.   It I also explained in detail in my book.

Now I do not phone anybody for such important advice on a legal matter without racing the official source because as my years would suggest I have has extensive experience of life and the weaknesses of us human beings.  The British Consulate apparently phoned Trafico in Alicante an asked about the fact and was told that expats do not have to have the periodical medicals.  Now I would have insisted with such an important matter that the Spanish official document reference stating this be advised so I could read it for myself, but no, the caller took that as the truth and then told a gathering of expats the same without checking all the facts.   Tut-Tut! 

II write weekly articles for two English language newspapers here in Spain and one, the Round Town News, is also distributed in the Gran Canarias where a Dutch expat called Franz lives.  He was recently stopped by the police and given a E150 fine because he could not prove that he had taken the medical but as he had only lived in Spain for 5 years and he is over 45, he does not have to take one until just before the end of the fifth year. 

This is specified in the EU Directive No 91/439/CEE (in all languages on the Internet) and as summarised in my books and in this web-site.   "You can take a thirsty horse to water but you cannot force it to drink." 

Franz went along to an official clinic on Gran Canaria (there are more details in my book about the clinics and where to find the local ones) to take the simple medical as many expats (including myself) have done elsewhere in Spain (and as required in similar circumstances in all of the EU, as specified in the Directive) as a result of my advice, and was told that as he has a foreign DL they cannot allow him to take the medical test as” their computer does not have a suitable reference letter space to cover the Dutch or any foreign EU DL tests.     Crazy but this is Spain where many horrible mistakes in recent years have been made such as the building and selling of “legal” properties to foreigners and some Spanish citizens that subsequently are ordered to be pulled down by the Spanish authorities as they were actually illegal, etc. so we should not be surprised but we should also TRUST NOBODY as often write and say unless you have it in official approved writing, and even that does not work here as many have found.   I have suggested to Franz that he copies the letter off my web-site and takes it to the clinic concerned to prove he is right.  It is in Spanish. 

 Anyway Franz luckily very fluent in Spanish so he phoned the lady in charge of the Fines (Sanciones) department at the main Las Palmas Trafico, a Sra. Ana Estevez Jorge, (Phone 928381818, Ext. 2019) and was told by here that it is indeed the law that all foreign EU resident drivers have to obey the same laws as Spanish drivers do and so they must have the periodical medicals as I have been advising in my articles, books on the REM.FM radio, and here on Mijas TV for the last four years.  The facts are on my web-site and can also be read on the EU website, which I have summarised in my web site anyway to save those who care the time and trouble.  Although I am getting tired of having to repeat myself on this matter, I am fortunately able to make allowances for silly people who only believe what they ant to believe, not what they should believe and some are in positions to know much better.

The latest is that Franz has advised his problem to the Sra Jefa at Trafico about the clinic refusing to give him the medical test, although many expats with UK DLs here in the peninsular have had no problems according to emails I received except for being charged far more than the Spanish drivers.   I have a Spanish DL so I have no problems at all, and I even get advised when they are due, now every two years as I am over 70. 

I am waiting for her answer via Franz to this problem which is only in Gran Canaria so far, but please listen to those who take the trouble, i.e. ME,  to research all the facts properly to save all us Brit expats (or anyone who can read English, in my book and columns) and not to the "idle tattle" in the local bars frequented by other expats who will believe anything that appears to save them doing the necessaries to obey the laws and save them being fined or worse.

As reported to me by a retired reader, ex-UK policeman, Graham Ward, case a few months ago, one British lady living near Alicante has already lost a Court case after she was involved in a car accident with a Spanish driver.  She attended Court expecting that the other driver would be found guilty, but when that driver’s lawyer asked to see her UK DL and the proof of having taken the mandatory medical, she was perplexed (she obviously had not my the book or read the English newspaper columns I write, and was then judged to have driven without a current DL, (leally, despite what is on the DL as far as dates are concerned, no medical taken means that  it has expired) and she also lost the insurance payout for the damage to her car, plus risked losing penalty points although the system was not in place at that time where a foreign EU DL can be penalised but that is soon to change according to reports from Brussels.   If you have a UK DL and reside or drive in Spain as a visitor even, penalty points can be soon lost via the DVLA/VOSA in the UK or wherever the foreign EU driver's DL originates.   I publicised the results of this sad Court case at that time but why is it that some expats still do not want to believe the provable facts.

6 Jan 2009

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