Can I drive in the UK on a foreign license?

  • April 10, 2020

I'm an overseas doctor planning to relocate to the UK. Can I drive immediately?

Good question, and IMGs asked this question frequently by IMGs planning their relcoation to the UK. In this article we’ll help you to arrange your UK driver’s licence by addressing the following questions: 

Is my driver’s licence valid?

Regardless of where you are relocating from, if you hold a foreign licence you will be able to drive in the UK immediately. For how long and under what conditions will depend on whether your licence is from an EU (or designated country) or non-EU country. You can check here to confirm your licence status. 

What is the difference for EU and non-EU driver’s licence holders?

For an EU licence holder:

If you hold an EU driver’s licence you can drive on your current licence for up to 3 years. After this time, you must exchange your licence, rather than retake the test.

For non-EU licence holders:

If you hold a foreign driver’s licence and are now a resident in the UK, you can drive for a period of 12-months with your current licence. Within this 12-month period you will need to take and pass both your theory and practical drivers’ examination to continue driving in the UK.

Exchanging your licence:

You can exchange your foreign driver’s licence for a GB licence if it is from:

  • EU (no time limit for exchange applies)
  • Northern Ireland (no time limit for exchange applies)
  • Jersey, Guernsey or Isle of Man (must be exchanged before 12 months)
  • A designated country* (must be exchanged before 12 months)

* Andorra, Australia, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Falkland Islands, Faroe Islands, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland and Zimbabwe

You can check whether you can exchange your licence here

How do I exchange my licence?

To exchange your licence, you will need to get a D1 form from a post office that deals with DVLA transactions.Provide all requested details and send back the D1 form with your current driver’s licence.

A fee of £43 is payable by cheque or postal order and this takes roughly 3 weeks to process.

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