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BREXIT

Brexit: What happens if you haven’t exchanged your UK driving licence in Austria?

The June 30th deadline for changing over your licence from British to Austrian has expired. From insurance implications to fines, what happens if you haven't made the switch?

Brexit: What happens if you haven't exchanged your UK driving licence in Austria?
Photo: Wikicommons.

People who became legally resident in Austria before Brexit and have a British driving licence should note the deadline for exchanging their British licence for an Austrian one was June 30th, 2021.

Under Austrian law, you are required to change your driving licence over after a maximum of six months in the country. 

According to the Article 50 Rules, this means that June 30th is the relevant date for switching over, as it is six months from the Brexit deadline. 

If you have moved to Austria in 2021, the relevant date for switching over your licence will be six months from your arrival date. 

If you are not residing in Austria, the period is 12 rather than 6 months, according to the ÖAMTC (Austrian Automobile and Motorcycle Touring Club). 

More information about the rules for changing over your licence is available at the following link. 

READ MORE: What are the post-Brexit rules about UK driving licences in Austria?

What happens if you haven’t changed your licence by that date? 

If you continue to drive on your British licence, you will technically be driving without a valid licence. 

This means there may both be insurance and legal implications. 

If you are involved in a traffic accident, you may be liable for up to €11,000 in repayments to the liability insurer for payments made to the victims of the crash. 

But this is not all. 

If you drive on your British licence after June 30th, you are considered to be driving unlicensed – for which there is a minimum fine of €363 (§37 para. 3 no. 1 FSG). 

Higher fines and jail terms are also possible for doing so, although according to the ÖAMTC this is generally used for people who continually reoffend. 

Can I still exchange my driver’s licence? 

For those who have let the period expire, some Local readers have indicated Austrian authorities will occasionally allow a little leeway. 

Some have been told they can continue to drive on their British licence provided they’ve put in an application to change it over (and carry their receipt). 

In a question and answer session in late September 2021, the British Embassy indicated you could still validly exchange your driver’s licence over – but warned that you must do it as soon as possible. 

This means that you may be allowed to change over your licence after the deadline – sometimes years down the track. 

However, in the worst-case scenario you may be forced to get your licence from scratch in Austria, including new practical and written tests. 

Please check with your local Bezirkshauptmannschaft (district authority) about whether you are able to change over the licence and the rules for doing so. 

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TRAVEL NEWS

Passports: What are the post-Brexit rules for dual-nationals travelling in Europe?

People who have more than one citizenship often hold multiple passports, so what does this mean for crossing borders? Here's what you should know.

Passports: What are the post-Brexit rules for dual-nationals travelling in Europe?

For many readers of The Local, gaining citizenship of the country where they live helps them to feel more settled – but there are also travel benefits, including avoiding the long ‘non EU’ queue when coming back into the Schengen zone.

But this week the problems associated with travelling while holding dual citizenship came to light, leaving many people wondering what they should know when they are entering different countries.

Put simply – which passport should you use? And do you have to carry both with you?

Financial Times journalist Chris Giles tweeted that the UK Border Force “detained” his dual-national daughter while she was travelling from France into the UK with her German passport – and not her British one. 

He went on to say that UK border guards released his daughter. According to Giles, the border staff said she should have had both passports with her “and asked why she was travelling on her German one”.

The rules on dual-nationality have not changed, but now that the UK is not in the EU, there are strict rules on non-Brits who enter the country (and vice-versa) which has made it trickier for travel.

For instance, UK nationals receive a stamp in their passport when entering Schengen member states because they are only allowed to stay up to 90 days within an 180 period (unless they have a visa or residency card).

READ ALSO: Brexit: EU asks border police not to stamp passports of British residents 

People coming from the EU to the UK can generally visit as a tourist for up to six months without a visa – but are not allowed to carry out any work while there.

So which passport should you show?

The first thing to be aware of is there are no specific rules on travelling with more than one passport. 

Travellers can choose to use whichever passport they prefer when going to a country. 

But one thing to note is that it’s worth using the passport that is best suited to your destination when travelling there. Each country has its own set of immigration and visa rules that you’ll need to research closely.

It could be that one passport is better suited for your trip – and you may be able to avoid visa requirements.  

READ ALSO: How powerful is the German passport?

In the case of the UK, many people are still getting to grips with the different rules that apply because it’s not in the EU anymore.

A question submitted to the Secretary of State for the Home Department in September 2021 provided some insight into this issue. 

The question from Labour’s Paul Blomfield asked what steps the UK government “is taking to enable dual UK and EU citizens to travel to the UK on an EU member state passport without having to further prove their UK citizenship?”

The Conservatives Kevin Foster said: “Border Force Officers examine all arriving passengers to establish whether they are British citizens, whether they require leave to enter or if they are exempt from immigration control.

“Where the passenger claims to be British, but does not hold any evidence of British citizenship, the officer will conduct all relevant checks to satisfy themselves the passenger is British.

Border control at Hamburg airport.

Border control at Hamburg airport. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christian Charisius

“When dual nationals who are eligible to use e-gates travel to the UK, they will enter via the e-gates without being examined by an immigration officer.

“We recommend all dual nationals, including EU citizens, travel on their British passport or with evidence or their British citizenship to minimise any potential delay at the border or when commencing their journey.”

The Local contacted the UK Home Office to ask if there was any official advice. 

A spokesman said: “An individual can present whichever passport they desire to enter the UK, however they will be subject to the entry requirements associated with the nationality of the passport they present.”

They said anyone who is looking for more information should check out guidance on entering the UK and on dual nationality.

In short, if you present a German passport on entry to the UK you will be treated the same as any other German citizen – which can include being quizzed about your reasons for visiting the UK – as border guards have no way of knowing that you are a dual-national. 

Do I have to carry both passports?

There’s no rule requiring you to have both passports, but you won’t get the benefits of a British passport (entry into the UK without questions) if you don’t show it.

Likewise if you are a French-British dual national and you enter France on your UK passport, you will need to use the non-EU queue and may have your passport stamped.

Should I think about anything else?

An important thing to remember is that if you apply for a visa and register your passport details, the same passport has to be used to enter the country. 

It could also make sense to travel with both passports, just in case. 

However, note that some countries – like the US – require that US nationals use a US passport to enter and leave the States even if they are dual nationals. 

In general, it’s best to use the same passport you entered a country with to depart.

The rules and systems are different depending on the country. But many countries require people to show their passport when leaving – and they will either stamp or scan the passport – this is how authorities know that a foreign visitor hasn’t overstayed their time in the country. 

So if your passport is checked as you leave the UK, you should show the one you arrived with, just to ensure there is a record of you arriving and leaving.

However as you enter France/Germany/other EU destination, you can show your EU passport in order to maximise the travel benefits of freedom of movement.

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