Right Driver

How long can you drive in the UK on a foreign licence?


Visitors that passed their driving test in Northern Ireland, the European Union or European Economic Area can drive any type of vehicle listed on their full, valid, current licence. E.g. if the licence is only for cars, then a visitor cannot ride a motorbike.

If a visitor has a full drivers licence (i.e. not restricted in any way) then they can drive a small vehicle (car, motorbike, small motorhome or van) for up to 12 months from when they last entered Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland). If they leave for a day and come back into the country, the 12-month period begins again. This applies to Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man, too.

Visitors cannot drive heavy vehicles (i.e. lorries and buses) without passing a test in Great Britain, unless they drove that vehicle into Great Britain on a ferry and have a current heavy vehicle or bus licence.

Residents that passed their driving test outside of Great Britain

The same rules apply as for visitors.

Foreign students living in Great Britain

If foreign students have a non-European Union driving licence or international driving permit they can drive in Great Britain for up to 12 months.

If their licence is from a designated country they can apply to exchange it for a GB licence up to five years after becoming a GB resident.

If they don’t have a full licence in their home country then they will need to apply for a provisional GB licence and then take a driving test and apply for a full licence once they have lived in Great Britain at least six months.

Designated country list:

  • Andorra
  • Australia
  • Barbados
  • British Virgin Islands
  • Canada
  • Falkland Islands
  • Faroe Islands
  • Hong Kong
  • Japan
  • Monaco
  • New Zealand
  • Republic of Korea
  • Singapore
  • South Africa
  • Switzerland
  • Zimbabwe

Darren has owned several companies in the automotive, advertising and education industries. He has run driving theory educational websites since 2010.

Posted in Advice