A guide for international driving licences in the UK

One of the most regular enquiries we have as driver trainer providers is for UK familiarisation courses for drivers new to UK driving who need to become safe and confident for business and private driving. We get many queries about whether a foreign driver can drive in the UK on their licence.

For business drivers, it is essential that licences are checked and that drivers are safe and competent drivers on UK roads. Many of our business courses are taken in vans with drivers who often have some degree of van driving experience. The majority of private drivers looking for UK Familiarisation courses are in cars and are looking to build confidence. Our UK Familiarisation courses are designed to provide comprehensive training on UK driving rules, road conditions, and driving etiquette, helping drivers adapt quickly and drive safely and confidently in the UK.

The first thing to check when thinking about driving in the UK if you have just arrived from another country is your licence from your country-of-origin entitlements. It is often confusing as different websites give conflicting advice, but if in doubt, always check the DVLA website yourself.


Never rely on word of mouth. Many drivers are caught with the wrong licence entitlements, which can void any insurance and lead to legal penalties. A lack of familiarity with UK driving rules and regulations also increases the risk of a collision.

Drivers coming to the UK from the European Union or the European Economic Area:

If you have residence (residence is considered if you live in the UK for 185 days at least per calendar year), you can drive on your full driving licence from your country of origin, and if you wish, you can exchange it for a UK licence without taking a driving test. At the age of 70, if you have not already done so, it is compulsory to exchange your licence for a UK licence; again, no driving test is needed. The average cost to exchange a licence is £45 and form D1 from the DVLA.

Drivers coming from Gibraltar, Jersey, Guernsey, Isle of Man:

Drivers entering the UK from any of the above countries will have five years to exchange their licence for a UK Licence if it was issued after April 1991.  The average cost to exchange a licence is £45, and form D1 from the DVLA, no theory or practical test is needed.

Drivers coming from Ukraine:

Ukraine drivers can drive on their licence for three years after becoming residents if entering the UK on a visa. The average cost to exchange a licence is £45, and form D1 from the DVLA, no theory or practical test is needed.

Foreign Drivers coming from other countries:

Drivers from any country other than the one mentioned above can continue to drive on their full country of origin licence for 12 months only. After that, a provisional licence must be applied for, and the Theory and Practical tests must be taken to gain a full UK licence.

Are you visiting or residing?

If you are only visiting, you will not be able to exchange your licence for a UK licence and can only drive for 12 months from the last time you entered the UK.

Foreign Student Drivers:

As an overseas student, you can drive on your non-European Union (EU) driving licence or international driving permit for 12 months. If you do not have a full licence, the UK provisional licence and testing process must be followed. You can apply to do this after living in the UK for six months.

UK Familiarisation Courses:

Many drivers are not trained to drive in the UK, but the ease of exchanging their licence without taking the theory or practical tests required by UK drivers does leave many employers worried. This is where our UK Familiarisation courses come in, providing drivers with the confidence and skills to navigate UK roads effectively.

We help drivers become more confident with driving on UK roads, understand and anticipate the actions of other drivers and learn how to follow UK road rules and regulations, which may differ a lot from where they learned to drive. Our courses are delivered in full or half-day durations, during which the training is more intense than hourly lessons. They can be taken in company vehicles or private cars. We have fantastic results in helping drivers understand UK highways and, in turn, help companies keep costs down with fewer insurance claims due to mistakes made due to the lack of UK driving experience.