How to Switch Your Foreign Driving License

Still have an Australian, Canadian or American driving licence and think it’s really about time you switched it to a British version?

Certainly, it’ll make life a lot easier for you. Just think, no more blank stares when you produce your (current) foreign driving license as proof of identity, age etc…

@katsgoneglobal: “The reason I changed my licence is because I was tired of everyone looking at my Australian licence asking is this “valid” when I was buying alcohol, using it as proof of ID and I couldn’t use it as proof of address.”

Not only that, but your car insurance will also be less expensive.

Well, the good news is that it’s really not difficult – or even time-consuming – to do. Once you’ve lived in England, Scotland or Wales in a permanent address for more than 185 days in a row, you can apply to change your foreign driving licence for the British version any time you like. Note – Northern Ireland has a different process.

Countries with a reciprocal arrangement with UK

First of all, so that you don’t have to sit your driving test again, check if your country of origin has a reciprocal arrangement with the British UK. Those who do are Andorra, Australia, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Falkland Islands, Faroe Islands, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland and Zimbabwe.

If your country isn’t mentioned in that list then yes, you’ll have to re-sit the test. Do this by applying for a provisional licence first then apply for the test. You don’t have to take any lessons but it’s a good idea to take a couple at least to familiarise yourself with the rules of the road in the UK.

You don’t have to apply for the first 12 months though – at which point you are still allowed to drive using your foreign licence. Although there is a stipulation – it is only for vehicles weighing up to 3.5 tonnes and with eight passenger seats.

Licence from the EU or EEA

If your licence was issued when you sat your test in the EU or an EEA country, then you can drive in the UK until the age of 70. At which point you’ll need to re-sit your test to continue to drive.

What you’ll need to send off in your application

Otherwise to switch you need a D1 Form to apply for a switch to a UK licence. You can get one of these online or from a post office.

You’ll also need a passport-sized photo and the driving licence from your country of origin, along with a biometrics card (residence permit for a visa), £43 postal order or cheque and a stamped addressed registered envelope for quick return of your documents. It’s worth the extra cost for registering the return envelope since these documents are very important and it’d prove extremely awkward for you if they were lost in the post.

The address to send your application to is DVLA, Swansea

SA99 1BT. You can expect to wait around three weeks for your new UK driving licence to arrive. Then you can get touring, commuting or whatever you plan on doing with those wheels.