Is it possible to use a foreign driving license in the UK?
The first question that drivers ask themselves when going to another country is generally “can I drive with my driving license in another country?”
As for England and Great Britain, the answer is yes.
Let’s go step by step and start with a short test to see if we can drive in the UK with our foreign driving license.
Note: You automatically become an English resident if you have been living in the UK for at least 183 days but you can drive even if you are a visitor for a limited period. You can drive with your foreign driving license up to the age of 70.
Convert your foreign driving license into an English driving license
If your driving license is nearing expiry date, you can decide to renew it or convert it with an English driving license. Although it is possible to drive with a foreign driving license in the UK, having an English driving license has its advantages.
- speed in converting the license (about 3 weeks);
- very low cost;
- you can do this by sending the requested documents to the DVLA or go to the post office to deliver the documents (search the closest post office);
- save at least twice as much on car insurance;
- easy duplicating process in case you lose your licence.
I recommend you go to the government website where you will be asked to answer a few questions to find out if in your specific case it is necessary or not to convert your license.
Use this tool to find out if you need to convert your driving license into an English driving license
All European citizens can drive in the UK with their driver’s license, either they are visiting or living in the UK.
You can convert your foreign driving license into an English driving license only if you are resident in Great Britain (i.e. if you spend more than 185 days in a row in the country). Converting your driving license is not mandatory: by law all driving licenses issued by a member state of the European Union are valid in England (in the case of a non-European driving license, you have one year to convert it).
There are however rules to be respected:
- If you are resident in England and you are 68 years old you can drive with your license for three years before having to apply for an English license;
- Starting from 70 years of age you will have to convert your driving license into an English one.
- If you have a driving license for buses or coaches, called Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC), you have the obligation to convert your driving license – information you must know if you want to drive buses, coaches, trucks or vehicles specials in the United Kingdom (read on special licenses paragraph below).
How to convert driving license A and B (cars and motorbikes)
The license exchange process is very quick: just fill in and send the D1 form, the driving license form, which you will find on the DVLA website, together with your driving license and an identity document (original only), and make a payment of £ 43. You will receive your new English driving license within three weeks of submitting the application, which can be made online or by going to a post office (note: you will not receive your own driving license back). This information applies to holders of driving licenses for cars and motorbikes.
How to convert special licenses
To drive buses, like the famous double deckers, you will need to send additional forms, the D2 and D4, and undergo medical examinations. Exchanging your driving license in this case is mandatory, and to drive buses and trucks in England you will need to have the CPC, the Driver’s Certificate of Professional Competence, which you will receive after passing four exams. You will have to renew your driving license every five years up to 65 years, and undergo 35 hours of practice. From the age of 66 you will have to renew your license every year.
When are you requested to exchange your special license?
- You are under 45: You can drive in the UK with your driving license up to the age of 45. Once you reach 45 you must exchange your driving license. The exchange fee in 2020 is £ 43. You must complete the D2 form and inform the DVLA within 12 months from the date you became a resident.
- Your age is between 45 and 66: You can drive in the UK with your foreign driving license up to the age of 66. Once you are 66 you must exchange your driving license. The exchange fee in 2020 is £ 43. You must complete forms D2 and D4 (medical examination) and inform the DVLA within 12 months from the date on which you became a resident.
- You are over 66: You must exchange your driving license. The exchange fee in 2020 is £ 43. In addition, you must complete forms D2 and D4 (medical examination).
All the above information is valid for Great Britain (i.e. England, Scotland and Wales). In Northern Ireland, instead of DVLA you will need to contact DVLNI (Driver Vehicle Licensing Northern Ireland).
Please note: If you obtained your driving license in one of the unlisted countries (called others) then you cannot convert your driving license into an English driving license and you can drive in the UK only for 12 months. After these 12 months, you will have to request a new license.
Although you do not have to convert your driving license (driving licenses A and B), it can be convenient to have an English licence: insurance is often much cheaper for holders of an English driving license.
How to get your first driving license?
Are you 16 years old and want to start driving the car? Then you can request the provisional driving licence. Only when you are finally 18 years old can you start the procedures to obtain your driving license: step by step guide to obtain a driving license.
Do I need a car insurance?
It is mandatory to have a car insurance to drive a vehicle in the UK even if you are staying for a short period (you do not need to make a separate insurance if you decide to rent a car as the rent already includes basic insurance).
There are 3 types of insurance:
- Third party cover: this is the basic insurance which covers damage to the car of the other driver but not to your vehicle.
- Third party, fire and theft: very similar to the first option, this adds a higher degree of protection.
- Comprehensive cover: covers damage to both drivers so it will be more expensive (even the most recommended).
If you are bringing your car from your country and want to drive in the UK, make sure you have valid insurance coverage. Your insurance agency should provide you with a certificate translated in English that confirms your level of protection.
In case you want to change your car insurance for an English one, the English insurance provider may ask you for an official document issued by your own insurance that confirms your degree of protection. In this case, proving that you have an insurance in your country, especially if you have not had an accident in recent years, will contribute to significantly lower prices.
During the registration process of your new insurance, you can select for how many years you have not committed accidents (No Claims Bonus).
If you decide to buy a new car in the UK then you will need to have an English insurance.
Another way to get better prices is to convert your license from your own to English. Insurances tend to offer much cheaper prices to anyone with an English driving license (remember that to convert your driving license you must have been a UK resident for at least 6 months)
I have an foreign license, do I have to convert it into a GB license?
No, whether you are an English resident or are simply visiting Britain for a limited period, you can drive with your driving license up to the age of 70, obviously you will have to check the expiry of your license and possibly renew it.
How much does cost to convert the license to GB?
Converting your license to GB costs £ 43.
How long does take to convert the license to GB?
Once all documents have been sent by DVLA you will receive the new license within approximately 3 weeks.
What documents do I need to send to DVLA to convert my license?
The required documents are: (to be sent to DVLA)
- form D1 (download the form)
- your driving license (yes exactly, you must send your driving license)
- eventually two photographs (more information will be detailed in form D1)
Should I convert my driving license to English? In terms of convenience in itself, nothing changes. However, you may pay more for your insurance. In fact, British insurance is more than twice as expensive for non-English drivers Which insurance should I choose? There is no insurance that can be considered the correct one. You can choose the car insurance according to your needs and costs
Should I convert my driving license to English?
In terms of convenience in itself, nothing changes. However, you may pay more for your insurance. In fact, British insurance is more than twice as expensive for non-English drivers
Which insurance should I choose?
There is no insurance that can be considered the correct one. You can choose the car insurance according to your needs and costs
I want to go back to my country, can I use the English driving license? You can decide to use the English driving license or you can convert it back to a national driving license. I lost my driving license in the UK, what do I do? If you have lost your license, read this article and find out how.
I want to go back to my country, can I use the English driving license?
You can decide to use the English driving license or you can convert it back to a national driving license.
I lost my driving license in the UK, what do I do?
If you have lost your license, read this article and find out how.
If you have any questions regarding the Italian driving license or simply want to give us some suggestions, write in the comments section below.