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Transport & Driving

Getting a UK Driving License

Exchanging your driving permit from home for a UK driving license can be quite confusing. After all, there are various regulations which depend largely on your country of origin. We offer you a brief introduction to getting a UK driving license and the process of exchanging your original license.

The validity of your UK driving license depends on the country where it was issued as well as the planned duration of your stay. In quite a few cases, your previous license from your home country will remain valid, and, at least for a limited time period, driving in the UK will be entirely legal. Please note, though, that the following information on UK driving licenses applies only to Great Britain, i.e. England, Scotland and Wales. There are separate regulations for driving in Northern Ireland, which you can find on the website of the Driver and Vehicle Agency of Northern Ireland.

In Great Britain, the minimum age for driving cars and motorbikes with a so-called “ordinary license” is 17 years. If you want to get a “vocational license” required for driving buses or trucks, please contact the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) for more information. The same also applies if you have any health issues or medical conditions that might interfere with your driving ability.

Original Driving License from an EU or EEA Country

If the driving license you are currently using was issued in a member state of the EU or EEA, the following regulations apply to you:  

Original Driving License from Northern Ireland

As mentioned above, the regulations for driving licenses in Northern Ireland are different from the rest of the UK. Still, drivers from Northern Ireland do not have much to worry about. These are your options:

Original Driving License from the Channel Islands

Driving licenses from Jersey, Guernsey, and the Isle of Man are not considered fully equivalent to a British license, either. If your driving license was issued there, you have the following options:

Original Driving License from So-Called Designated Countries

If the driving license you are using at the moment was issued in a so-called designated country, you may keep using it for up to twelve months as a visitor in Britain. If you are planning, however, to become a resident, you must exchange it for a UK driving license. You can do so within five years after becoming a resident, as long as your original license is still valid.

Keep in mind that this rule only applies to drivers of automatic vehicles. If you want a UK driving license for a manual vehicle, you will need to pass an additional driving test. Designated countries include, among others, Australia, Barbados, Canada, the Falkland Islands, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland, and Zimbabwe.

Original Driving License from Any Other Country

If your original driving license was issued in a non-EU/ EEA country that is not a so-called designated country, the following conditions will apply to you:

How to Exchange Your Driving License for a British One

If you want to exchange your old driving license from abroad for a UK driving license, you need to submit the documents listed below:

You also have to meet the following conditions:

If you fulfill all these requirements, you have to send everything to the DVLA by mail (you will find the address on the application form). You should receive your new UK driving license within three weeks. Please remember that you are not allowed to exchange an international driving license. 


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

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