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How to get a driving licence in the UK as a non-UK national

August 17, 2021
3 mins
COps Lead

We've put together a little guide to help you understand how to get a driving licence in the UK as a foreign national.

Important: You might also want to check whether your driving licence issued from abroad is valid in the UK. Find more information here.

Here are the 4 steps you should take to get your UK driving licence:

1. Check whether you meet the legal requirements

In order to drive in the UK, you need to be over the age of 17, and have a valid licence to drive motorised vehicles on any public roads. You should also be able to read a licence plate from 20 metres away. Only residents can apply for a UK driving licence, so foreign nationals are required to prove they've been living in the country 185 days within the past 12 months.

2. Apply for a provisional licence

  • Where to go? You can apply for a provisional licence on the DVLA website.
  • What will you need? You will be asked to input your basic identity and contact details, as well as your addresses for the past 3 years. Through the process, you will have the option to enter your National Insurance Number (NIN), which is useful as it helps the ID verification process.
  • How to verify your identity? For this part, timing is essential. Unless you own a British biometric passport, you will need to send your original identity documents physically to the DVLA office in Swansea, along with a passport-style photograph and a return envelope.
  • How much does it cost? It costs £34 to apply online.
  • What if you can't apply online? Then a post option exists. Just fill in the D1 form available in certain post office branches and the DVLA website, and post it to the same address. You'll need to include your original identity document, a passport-style photo and a £43 cheque or postal order.
  • When will I receive my provisional licence? Whatever method you've chosen, you should receive your provisional licence 3 weeks from the successful confirmation of your identity.

3. Learning how to drive

In practice

UK rules for learning how to drive differ from those of most countries. You need to be supervised to learn how to drive. You can choose to learn with friends or family, if the supervisor meets these criteria:
- they are 21 or older
- they're qualified to drive the type of vehicle you want to learn in, (for example, they must have a manual car licence if they’re supervising you in a manual car)
- they have had a full driving licence from the European Economic Area for more than 3 years. Please note that this option won't allow you to drive on motorways.

The alternative option is to find a driving instructor approved by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA). A useful tool to find instructors in your area and check their qualifications and grades is available here. These instructors will be allowed to take you to the motorway if the car is fitted with dual controls.

Keep in mind that every car you practice with must be insured for a learning driver, so don't forget to check with the car owner before trying out your new skills!

In theory

In the meantime, you'll need to prepare for your theory test. You'll need to prove your knowledge of three books: the Highway Code, Know your traffic signs, and Driving - the essential skills, all available from most book shops, in the high street or online. Most instructors will help you learn the theory by asking you questions during the lessons. You can also get familiar with the content and format of the test by taking mock exams on the DVLA website.

4. Take the tests

When you feel ready to take your theory test, then you'll need to book a session on the DVLA website. You'll be asked to enter your provisional licence number, details, and to pay £23, by credit or debit card. Then, the DVLA will contact you with instructions on the following steps! Just remember to take your provisional licence card with you on the day of the exam.

The last step is to take your driving test. Once again, it can be booked through the DVLA website, here. You will be prompted to fill in your details, as well as your instructor's details in case you'd like to check his or her availability. After choosing your test centre and date, you will be required to pay £62. The DVLA will send you all the instructions to get to your driving test! On the day, you should remember to bring your provisional licence, as well as the proof of your successful theory results. Otherwise, you might not be allowed to take the test!

Keep in mind that to be legally allowed to drive in the UK, your car must be insured! Luckily, the Marshmallow Team is here to help get you on the road as soon as possible. We also accept international licences and your o claims/good-driver bonus earned abroad. Click here to see if you are able to save from your existing insurer.

We wish you the best of luck!

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