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Driving in the UK with a Foreign Licence - All You Need to Know

June 7, 2022
4 min read

Whether you're on holiday in the UK or setting up home here, it's important to know the rules and regulations around driving on your international licence. We've answered all your questions to help you get on the road:

I'm just visiting the UK. Can I drive with my international licence?

Driving in the UK on your foreign driving licence depends on 2 things: the length of your stay, and the country where your licence was issued.

The good news is, tourists can drive around Great Britain (i.e. England, Wales and Scotland) on their valid foreign driving licence for up to 12 months from the day they last entered the country. Road trip, anyone?

The rules are different in Northern Ireland, read about them on the government website here.

I'm moving to the UK and becoming a resident. What do I need to do?

- Was your licence issued in Northern Ireland?

Great news! Northern Irish licence holders can use their driving licence anywhere in the UK, as long as it remains valid 🎉

- Are you a European Economic Area passport holder?

Brexit hasn't changed too much when it comes to driving in the UK with a European licence.

If you’re moving to the UK with a valid licence issued in the European Economic Area then lucky you! You don't need to take British driving test 💪 You can drive on your international licence until you reach 70 years old. If you were 67 or older when you became a resident, you can drive on your EU licence for 3 years after that point. If you want to keep driving once you turn 70, simply exchange your European licence for a British one.

The European Economic Area comprises all members of the European Union, as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

Are you a migrant or expat driver looking for affordable car insurance? Get a quote from Marshmallow today!

- Was your licence issued outside of the European Economic Area?

You'll still be able to drive with your full valid licence for up to 12 months after you became a UK resident.

If your licence was issues in a 'designated country', you'll have the choice to exchange your foreign licence for a British one without taking a new driving test. That's because 'designated countries' have agreements with the United Kingdom for their citizens to drive in the UK without taking a new test. Licence holders from those countries have 5 years from when they became residents to exchange their foreign licence for a British one. But, it's important to remember that the foreign licence will only be valid for the first 12 months.

Designated countries are: 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.

Those who got their driving licence from countries outside of the designated countries list and the European Economic Area can drive with their foreign licence for up to 12 months from the day they became UK residents. After this period, they will need to pass a British driving test. To do so, the first step is to apply for a provisional British licence on the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency website here.

Do I need car insurance if I have an international licence?

Yes, you do! Car insurance is a legal requirement in the UK. Having a UK licence means that you could get slightly cheaper insurance than if you hold a licence issued in the EU or further afield, so it's worth looking into getting a UK licence.


Here at Marshmallow, we offer cheaper insurance for expats and migrants. Plus, we make our car insurance accessible by accepting international licences! We also reward our customers for their No Claims Discount earned outside the UK, helping them to save up to 45% on their policy if they get a quote with us directly. Learn more about how we help expats and migrants get cheaper car insurance here.

Help, I’m still confused!

If you're still unsure about what you should be doing with your licence, check if you can switch your licence to a UK one with the DVLA interactive tool. You can find that here.