Getting a UK driving licence

You do not need an international driving permit to drive in the United Kingdom. Foreign driving licences are valid for up to a year after first arriving in the UK after which it is necessary to either exchange it or pass the DVSA’s UK driving test.

But if your original licence does not come with an English translation it will be useful in proving that the licence is valid.

As I understand it, to exchange your licence, if you qualify, you have five years to do this but can only continue to drive for the first twelve months.  Strictly speaking  you need to have been living in Great Britain for at least 185 days before being considered eligible as permanently resident. After which you can apply to exchange your old licence and replace it with a UK licence.

But in practice I have heard of many instances where people have managed to get their new licences earlier. An anomaly I wouldn’t take a chance on. In the UK you learn to queue patiently without question. You are expected to follow the rules and regulations which you deviate from at your own risk.

if your licence was issued in Gibraltar, Jersey, Guernsey, Isle of Man or a ‘designated country’ you are eligible to exchange your licence without having to sit the DVSA’s UK driving test. Designated countries are considered to have similar standards and have an agreement with the UK. These include Australia, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Falkland Islands, Faroe Islands, Hong Kong, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland and Zimbabwe.

If you have an EU or EEA licence you can drive in the UK until agged  70 or your licence expires. If you’re aged 68 or over when you officially become a resident in Great Britain, you’ll be allowed to drive for 3 years. Once this time has passed, you will need to exchange your licence.

Prior to that however you are entitled to exchange your EU or EEA licence for a UK one at any time if you might wish.

If you have an EU licence that was exchanged for a licence from a non-EU country that is not on the list of designated countries it won’t be eligible to exchange and you will need to sit the DVSA’s test.

To start the process go to

You order form D1 from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). This will be posted to you

Complete the form and send it back with the prescribed fee, your old driving licence and the required documents.  A passport number for a valid UK passport is sufficient for identification purposes. Otherwise if you do not have a UK passport you must enclose an original identity document such as  a current and valid foreign passport,  a biometric residence permit (BRP) issued in the UK, a European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA) national identity card, a travel document

If you do not have an EU or EEA passport, you’ll need to send in a visa that proves you have permission to live in the UK.

Photocopies or laminated certificates won’t be accepted.

You should get your new licence within 3 weeks.

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