which countries' driving license is valid in the uk? eu driving license, designated country, drive in the UK, exchanging your foreign driving license for a uk one, driver and vehicle licensing agency, dvla

Which countries’ driving license is valid in the UK?

By Lee Emmett

​Driving in the UK and the rules around it might be confusing if you’re looking into it overseas. However, as an international worker or someone who is currently planning their relocation here, we want to help you to drive legally and safely on UK roads.

Firstly, you must be at least 17 years old to drive a car or motorcycle in the UK. As you’ll be planning to stay here for a substantial amount of time with your new health or social care job, you’ll need to consider exchanging your foreign license for a UK one. Depending on where your home country is, you might have to re-sit your driving test too.

EU driving license

As it currently stands, if you hold a full license issued in a European Union country, you can drive in Great Britain using your original license; there’s no need to exchange it/retake your test. It’s the same if you own a European Economic Community (EEC) license.

‘Designated’ countries license types

You’re able to drive in the UK for 12 months on a license issued in a ‘designated country’, which includes:

  • Australia

  • Barbados

  • Hong Kong

  • Monaco

  • Singapore

  • Falkland Islands

  • Republic of Korea

  • South Africa

  • Switzerland

  • Faroe Islands

  • Japan

  • Zimbabwe

  • British Virgin Islands

  • Canada

  • New Zealand

After this time, you’ll need to exchange your license for a UK one to keep on driving. You can do this up to five years after becoming a UK resident, without having to retake your test.

Exchanging your foreign driving license for a UK one

Once you arrive in the UK and have a place of residence, you can order the application form ‘D1’ from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) and send it with the required documents – including your original driving license – to the address noted on the form. Your new license should arrive within three weeks.

It is possible that you won't need a car if you are moving to one of our big cities. For those relocating to London, you may find our public transport blog useful.

Read more about moving to the UK or to find your next UK role, contact Keith Pilkington.