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Get a UK Driving Licence: 5 Easy Steps

June 7, 2022
3 minute read

Recently moved to the UK from overseas? 🌍 We've put together a little guide to help you change your international driving licence to a UK driving licence. 

Before we start, you should check whether your foreign driving licence is valid in the UK. Some international licences are accepted in the UK, with specific terms and conditions. For example, EU licence holders can keep using their EU licence to drive in the UK until they're 70. Find more information here.

If your licence isn’t valid and needs to be changed to a UK equivalent ASAP, the rest of this blog is here to help. Just follow these 5 steps to get your UK driving licence:

1. Check whether you meet the legal requirements 🟢

To drive in the UK, you need to be over the age of 17, and have a valid licence to drive a car on any public roads. You should also be able to read a licence plate from 20 metres away 👀

Only UK residents can apply for a UK driving licence. So, you’ll need to prove you’ve been living in the country for 185 days within the past 12 months when applying for your licence. 

2. Apply for a provisional licence 🪪

You can apply for a provisional licence on the DVLA website. It costs £34 to do it online. 

You’ll be asked to share your basic identity and contact details, as well as your addresses for the past 3 years. Throughout the process, you’ll have the option to enter your National Insurance Number (NIN) which will help speed up the ID verification process. 

When it comes to verifying your identity, timing is essential. Unless you own a British biometric passport, you’ll need to send your original identity documents physically to the DVLA office in Swansea, along with a passport-style photograph and a return envelope. The quicker you send off these physical documents, the quicker you’ll get your licence. 

If you can’t apply for your provisional online, then you can use physical forms. Just print off and fill in the D1 from the DVLA website, and post it over to them. They’ll provide the address and lots of other relevant information on their website! You'll need to send your original identity document, a passport-style photo and a £43 cheque or postal order.

Whatever method you’ve used (online or via post) you should receive your provisional licence 3 weeks after your identity has been confirmed. 

3. Learn how to drive 🚘

If you’ve moved from a country outside of the European Union and European Economic Area, you need to take a driving test to get a UK driving licence. And that means driving lessons...

When you learn to drive in the UK, you need to have a supervisor in the car with you. You can choose one of your friends or family to be your supervisor, as long as they:

- are 21 or older.
- are qualified to drive the type of car you want to learn in. For example, if you want to learn to drive a manual car, they need to have a manual car licence.
-  have had a full driving licence from the UK, the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein for more than 3 years.

If you choose a friend or family member to be your supervisor, you can’t drive on motorways.

The other option is to find a driving instructor approved by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA). You can find instructors in your area, and check their qualifications, here. If you’re keen to witness the British motorway system firsthand, you’re in luck. You can drive on the motorway with DVSA approved instructors if their car has dual controls. 

Keep in mind that every car you practice driving in must be insured for a learner driver. Don't forget to check with the car owner that they have the right insurance before test your UK driving skills!

As well as learning the practical driving skills, you'll also need to prepare for your theory test 📚

The theory test is based around 3 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 your driving lessons. You can also get familiar with the content and format of the test by taking mock exams on the DVLA website.

5. Take the tests ✅

When you feel ready to take your theory test, you'll need to book it on the DVLA website. You'll be asked to enter your provisional licence number, details, and to pay £23 by credit or debit card. 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, that can be booked through the DVLA website, here. You will be asked 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. Driving tests cost £62 for a weekday, and £75 for a weekend. 

Once you’re booked, the DVLA will send you instructions on how to get to your driving test! On the day, remember to bring your provisional licence, as well as proof that you’ve passed your theory test. Otherwise, you might not be allowed to take the test.

All that’s left to do after that is to pass! Good luck🤞

5. Get car insurance 🤗

After you’ve passed, you’ll have to get some car insurance before setting off on the road.

Luckily, the Marshmallow Team is here to help with that! We recognise your no claims discount or good-driver bonus earned abroad, meaning you can save up to 45% on your policy if you get a quote with us directly.

Click here to find out how we help expat and migrant drivers save money on their car insurance.