Driving in the UK on an overseas licence

If you are in the UK on an overseas driving licence and want to know how long you can continue driving here and when and how you exchange your licence for a British one, then read on.

Driving in the United KIngdom on a Canadian, New Zealand or Australian license is possible, but there may be a few caveats depending on how long and where you live in the country.

According to the UK Government website, you can drive any small vehicle, for example a car or motorcycle, listed on your full licence for 12 months from when you last entered Great Britain (GB) - remember that’s Scotland, England and Wales, NOT Northern Ireland.

But after 12 months after becoming a resident (which, as a general rule of thumb, is someone who has lived in Great Britain for 185 days within the tax year), you will need to change it for a GB one.

After 12 months you must exchange your licence to keep driving. You can exchange it up to 5 years after becoming a resident, if it hasn’t expired.

You will need to order the form D1 from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), which will then be posted to you. This form needs to be completed and sent, along with any supporting documents such as yiur current driver’s licence, to the address on the form. DVLA says it it takes about three weeks for a new licence to arrive.

If you have a Canadian or New Zealand licence, you will be restricted to only driving automatic vehicles in the UK, unless you can prove you have passed a manual driver’s licence test. Australian licences do not have this ruling.

If you are driving in Northern Ireland, you can do so on a full Australian, Canadian or New Zealand driver’s licence for up to 12 months since you last entered NI. Holders of Canadian licences will need to provide proof that they can drive a manual vehicle, or they will be legally restricted to drive an automatic. After that date, people with a foreign licence from above will need to apply for a NI driver’s licence. This can be done by completing the application form DL1 that can be found from Post Office branches or MOT test centres. These forms cannot be ordered online. The licence costs £30. More information can be found here.