Driving with a foreign driving licence in the UK. See if you need to register, exchange or apply for a new UK licence. Driving with an EU category A and B Driving Licence. Conditions for driving with an EU category C,D, E driving licence in the UK.
If you are visiting the UK and have a full valid driving licence, then you can drive any motorbike or car. If you have category C, D, E licence you can only drive your foreign registered bus or lorry, if you’ve actually driven the vehicle into the UK yourself.
Along with your driving licence, you might also need an International Driving Permit (IDP), this is an official multi-language translation of your driving licence, even though if your licence is also in English. If you are required, but you don’t have one, it would be the same penalty as driving without a driving licence. To be on the safe side, it is better to get one anyway. It doesn’t cost a lot, around $20 USD, $25 CAD, (£5.50 GBP for UK drivers) etc. You need to apply in the country where your driving licence was issued. Use government bodies or official authorities e.g: some automobile club associations (AA) are authorised to issue IDPs. Be aware of scams selling fake IDPs. For more info visit www.internationaldrivingpermit.org.
After becoming a resident and have been living in the UK for minimum of 12 month (185 days=more than 6 month for EU citizens), you can drive with your foreign licence as follows:
If you have a USA or any non-EU driving licence that not listed below, you can drive up to 12 months, after that you should apply for a new UK driving licence by taking theory and practical tests.
If you have a driving licence from Andorra, Australia, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Faroe Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland or Zimbabwe, you can drive for up to 5 years with your licence, but you will need to exchange it between 12 months and 5 years of becoming a resident in the UK.
If you have an EU driving licence, it can be used to drive in the UK.
Driving with an EU category A and B Driving Licence
EU category A and B (motorbike and car) driving licences can be used in the UK until you are 70 years of age, so it is not obligatory to change to a UK driving licence. You do not have to register or exchange your licence or take any driving test.
If you are planning to stay in the UK long-term then it can be easier if you exchange your licence to a British licence as insurance can be cheaper. The UK driving licence is also recognised as an official photo identification document by many government departments and other organisations.
Driving with an EU category C,D, E driving licence in the UK
EU category C and above driving licence (full lorry, minibus and/or bus) can be used in the UK under the following conditions:
- You must register your EU category C, D, E driving licence with the DVLA within 12 months of becoming a UK resident.
- You can use it until you are 45 years old OR for 5 years after you became resident in the UK (whichever occurs later).
- If you are between the ages 45-65 then you can drive for 5 years OR until you are 66 years old (whichever occurs sooner).
- After any of these times you must exchange your EU licence for a UK licence
If you are resident in the UK and you drive a bus with 9 or more passenger seats or if you drive a vehicle that weighs more than 3.5 tonnes, you need to register your EU driving licence with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).
To register your licence you must use a form D9 form which can be obtained from the Driver and Licensing Agency (DVLA).
Send this form with any documents required (which will include your EU driving licence)
To the following address: DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1BH.
Your EU driving licence will be returned within 1-2 weeks.