Driving in the UK

Driving in the UK

Driving in the UK isn’t for everyone and for the most part transport can be had much cheaper or more conveniently via bus or train. In my case however I was living in the UK for 2 years on a Youth Mobility Visa and due to the job I obtained while living there, I needed to be able to drive around. I did some research on what I’d need and come up with multiple answers, so figured I’d share my knowledge and hopefully help someone else in the process.

Visiting the UK

If you arrive fresh off the plane and only plan to visit then you’re all set. Providing you are carrying a full and valid licence (no probationary licences) then you are allowed go driving in the UK for up to 12 months from when you entered the country. Nice and simple without needing to carry international drivers permits and so forth. This is valid for anyone outside of Europe who enters and wants to drive.

Resident in the UK

If you’ve become a resident or living in the UK on a visa like I was that permits you to work then the rules are slightly different. You are still able to drive in the UK for the first 12 months providing you meet the licence requirement mentioned above, but after that its a bit more work.

Here the start date begins from when you were given resident status which for most of us (like me), it will be the start date of your visa and not from when you entered the country last. Before that 12 months is up you’ll need to exchange your foreign licence if you want to keep driving. You actually have up to 5 years to swap your licence over before you have to face having to endure the process of applying for a driving licence. But really if you’ve driven for the first 12 months why would you not swap it over right away?

Exchanging Your Licence

You’ve driven in the UK and now that first 12 months is up and its time to exchange your foreign licence for a UK one to keep driving. Great, providing your from Europe or one of the following designated countries:

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

If you’re outside of that criteria then I’m afraid it’s not good news. You will be required to sit a theory and practical test to continue driving. All I can say is I’m glad Australia is still part of the Commonwealth (Sorry America).

Driving In The UK - Exchanging Licence UK

To apply to exchange your licence you’ll need to get your hands on a few things:

  • A D1 Application For Driving Licence Form which you can request online or pickup from the local post office
  • Passport photos showing no smile or teeth
  • Valid foreign drivers licence
  • A valid Passport with Visa inside
  • 50 Pounds to cover the fee

With all that you can ship your application and all the supporting documents above off to the DVLA office and in about 3 weeks you’ll get your passport back and a shiny new UK Driving Licence. Or if your paranoid about your passport you can march yourself into the Wimbledon Office like I did and complete the process in person saving you from being without your beloved passport.

If you’re unsure about the above then the UK Government has some simple to use questionnaires to help pick the right option for you. They are:

Armed with your newly printed UK licence the sky is the limit allowing you to go driving in the UK and all across Europe without worrying about driving permits. I found it also served as an extra security blanket should I find myself without my passport on me in a time of need. Something about having a local ID card vs a foreign one just builds confidence I think.

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144 Responses to Driving in the UK

  1. CARLY November 5, 2012 at 5:06 PM #

    Great post, I live in the UK anyway so automatically had to do both theory and practical….failed my theory twice by one point! Frustrating when you’re ready to take your practical..

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD November 5, 2012 at 5:12 PM #

      Thanks Carly. Glad I never had to sit the tests as am sure I’d have failed. Doing all of that in Australia many years ago was more than enough for me.

  2. TIER 5 November 26, 2012 at 3:20 PM #

    Thanks for this post. Do you know what date I would be considered to have become a resident for the purpose of the 12 month grace period? I was previously in the UK as a Tier 4 student for ten months, then I went home to Aus for a month during which that visa expired, and now I’ve come back on an entirely different Tier 5 work visa. Would it be the date I previously came here as a student or the date of my current visa?

  3. ADI June 12, 2013 at 5:13 AM #


    Thanks for the blogs. They are very interesting and informative. Since we are talking about UK licence. I wanted to know if you have any information on insurance. I’m heading to UK on a Tier 5 visa soon and plan to buy a motorbike (yes… a motorbike! :))) and ride around UK and Europe for 4 – 5 months till winter steps in and I’m confined to a normal work life.

    Any info on insurance would be highly appreciated.

    Thanks a ton,
    Keep up the good work… 🙂


    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD June 16, 2013 at 5:57 PM #

      Hi Adi, are you after insurance for yourself or the bike? If for yourself then look up some providers in OZ such as world nomads, travel insurance direct and so on. If its insurance for the bike I believe you’ll need to do that when in the UK but I’ve no experience with that I’m afraid as i always drove a work vehicle.

  4. PRISCILLA June 30, 2013 at 2:21 AM #

    Just found your blog via Google and it’s been a tremendous help, thanks! I’m about to move to London for a year on a Tier 5 visa. Do you know if I would be eligible to apply for a GB driving licence while I am there? I’ve never driven before. Or could you direct me to some external reference where I could find the answer?


  5. F July 28, 2013 at 9:30 AM #

    Just came across this and it was very helpful! Thanks!

    I am also heading over to the UK on a youth mobility visa soon for two years but will be back to visit Aus during that time. When they exchange your drivers licence, do they keep your Australian licence? How does that work if I still need it for back home and ID docs?


    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD July 28, 2013 at 11:56 AM #

      They do keep your Australian licence yes. The line I was told was that it would be sent home to my home state licence authority but no notice or anything similar ever appeared at home for me.

      When I returned home you can drive on your UK licence for up to a year I was told. You can also just go back to your local licence authority (vicroads for me) and get your old licence back. You just show your UK licence and some other forms of ID, fill out a form, hand over the fee for your licence and presto you’ve got it back all while getting to keep the UK licence as well.

      • JAN May 28, 2015 at 6:19 AM #

        I also have dual Citizenship so do not have a visa on my passport. Would I have to send my British passport or my Australian passport to get a British driving licence?

        • THE AUSSIE NOMAD June 1, 2015 at 1:08 PM #

          Hi Jan, thats a question to ask of the DVLA as I don’t know.

          • WIOLA August 1, 2015 at 12:11 AM #


            My Husband wanted to exchange his Australian driving licence for UK one, but the problem is that the licence has expired (3 weeks) :'(
            And also he is here already 2 years, does that mean that he will have to pass exams again or renew his expired driver licence and then apply for a UK one? Thank you in advance! 🙂

            • THE AUSSIE NOMAD August 5, 2015 at 12:04 AM #

              Hi Wiola, I’m afraid if the licence is expired then his only option is to either get it renewed at home in Australia and send over a new one or apply for a licence in the UK like everybody else and sit the exams etc. Bet he’s wishing he’d got onto this before his licence had expired now.

              • CAT MACKENZIE January 29, 2016 at 6:39 PM #

                No, go to the Oz embassy and get RTA forms, they’ll help you out.

                • FRANK November 21, 2016 at 6:51 PM #

                  i just called the DVLA as my Aus license is expired and they said i can swap it no problem

  6. F July 29, 2013 at 12:46 AM #

    Awesome! Because i wanted to keep the two licences as Im probably going to travel frequently between the two countries. Thanks for the info!

  7. CINTA November 8, 2013 at 4:51 AM #

    Hi there!

    Thanks for this post! I just got my visa back and looking at heading over in the next month or so, so this was great to find! just wondering do you have to wait the 12 months before you exchange licence? Or can you do it straight off the bat? I was in America earlier this year and need the international licence and a had trouble with not having an American ID so if possible I would like to get UK licence for a piece of mind. is that possible?

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD November 8, 2013 at 9:59 AM #

      Hi Cinta, you don’t need to wait 12 months no. But you can legally drive on your Australian licence for the first 12 months without problems in the UK. It’s only after that, that you need to have it.

  8. GJS November 16, 2013 at 5:43 PM #

    Do you think that one could obtain a UK drivers license if he is a P1 in Australia? If so, whats the chances of me going back to Australia on my full license if there is no Learner/P1/P2 system abroad?
    I curious as if there is a loophole i could pass here when i travel in 2014.

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD November 16, 2013 at 6:59 PM #

      Hi GJS, I’d have to look it up but to exchange your licence you need a full licence and not a probation like like the P1 in Australia so I don’t believe you can shortcut the system.

      • NATALIE DEDES July 6, 2014 at 1:11 PM #

        if I have my Australian drivers licence suspended, how can I obtain a UK drivers licence?

        • THE AUSSIE NOMAD July 6, 2014 at 4:26 PM #

          Hi Natalie, if your licence is suspended then you’d need to apply for a learners permit and go through the process from the very beginning in the UK.

  9. DAMO January 19, 2014 at 11:16 AM #


    Im an Aussie from the quiet parts of Queensland, stumbled on this site while doing so research on google, certainly has given me a lot of hope on making my decision to move to the UK ( won’t need a visa because I have dual italian citizenship ). so much easier knowing there are others out there who have been through what I am about to endure.


    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD January 20, 2014 at 12:24 AM #

      Damo I’m somewhat jealous of your dual citizenship status. If you were to get an Italian driving licence then you’d be free to drive in the UK for as much as you like and avoid everything I’ve written about above.

      • DAMO January 20, 2014 at 4:35 AM #

        That would certainly be an advantage. I’m getting very excited though.

  10. HELEN January 21, 2014 at 10:39 AM #

    Hey, great blog, thanks! I am off to the UK permanently in March, I have duel citizenship of UK and Aus. Would I still need to hand over my Aussie licence or can I keep it and also have a British one?

    Thanks! H

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD January 22, 2014 at 1:30 AM #

      Hi Helen, you can get your Australian licence back when you return to Australia so you don’t really lose it. Your only other option is to apply for a licence normally and go via the learner method otherwise.

  11. CAZAR February 1, 2014 at 6:15 PM #

    Fantastic information-really useful. I also have dual citizenship (aussie/spanish) and have been living in the UK for 6 years on European citizenship. We are just going to buy a car now. Do you know how strict they are in terms of the 5 year limit? Thanks for any help you can give!

    • HVH June 29, 2015 at 4:26 AM #

      Hi, I’m not sure whether anyone responded to this post. How strict are they on the 5-year time limit and is there any discretion?

      • THE AUSSIE NOMAD July 11, 2015 at 1:41 AM #

        Afraid I don’t know how strict they are on the 5 year period.

  12. BENJII April 4, 2014 at 11:23 AM #

    Hi there,

    Firstly I just want to congratulate you on this website, it’s amazing & it has even incredibly helpful as I am leaving for London in just under a week & appreciate all the assistance that I can get.

    Anyway my question relates to getting a motorcycle. I REALLY want to get my licence over there & I was wondering if I can take a motorcycle course on a Tier 5 youth working visa?

    Thanks so much!!

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD April 5, 2014 at 7:57 AM #

      Hi Benjii, you can take a lesson and apply for your licence abroad as I looked into it myself. What I found however is that its really expensive to get your bike licence in the UK. There are also limitations on what roads you can ride on while on your probationary licence as well.

      It ended up being just not cost effective to do. If you have your licence in Australia already you should be able to transfer that over and avoid some of the costs I believe but i never looked into that as didn’t have my licence yet.

  13. CM April 6, 2014 at 9:49 AM #

    Hi, I’m a 19 year on my green provisionals in Australia, I’ve got dual citizenship (Aussie & British) and I’m travelling back to England for a couple of months this year.
    Any idea if I’ll be able to drive over there? I’ve been finding lots of different answers on this. Any idea who to contact to find out for sure?

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD April 6, 2014 at 2:35 PM #

      Hi CM, as far as I’m aware you cannot drive in the UK on a probationary licence of any sort. It needs to be a full and valid licence. Best people to contact are the DVLA in the UK to tell you what is and isn’t covered. You can find a link to them in my post above.

      • DAVID September 23, 2014 at 4:20 PM #

        Hi CM and Chris,

        I just received a response from DVLA regarding my question regarding my wife’s Australian provisional (Australian “P”) licence. You CAN use an Australian provisional (green or red “P” plates) licence to drive in the UK for up to 12 months, and also to exchange it for a full GB licence.

        This is because an Australian “P” licence is given in Australia AFTER you have passed a driving test. This is opposed to the UK where they call a “provisional” licence what we would call a “Leaner” permit – that is, the first permit/licence one obtains in the UK is called a “provisional licence”. After a Brit has done his driving test, he obtains a “full licence” in the UK (the UK does not have the Australian system of “Ps” after passing your test, even though from what I gather on the website – – one can continue to display your Ps plates, even though you are not required to).

        That is, in summary:

        (1) an Australian learner’s permit = a UK provisional licence (you cannot drive in the UK with this learner’s permit and cannot exchange it for a UK full licence).

        (2) an Australian provisional driver licence = a full UK driver licence (you can drive in the UK for up to 12 months with this and you can exchange it for a UK licence).

        The key question, from DVLA’s perspective, is that you have a licence that is issued AFTER a driving competency test has been completed.

        The full email from the DVLA dated today’s date is:

        “I should point out that probation, provisional and restricted licences are all acceptable to exchange. These licences would be valid for driving and exchange purposes in Great Britain (GB).

        Therefore you do not need a letter from the Australian authorities as you can send your provisional licence.

        We cannot accept Learners licences or L categories.

        You can drive in GB on your valid licence for up to 12 months from the day you became resident in GB. If you have not exchanged your licence for a British one before the end of the first 12 months of becoming resident you will need to stop driving.

        If you are visiting GB you can drive on the probationary, provisional or restricted licence for a period of up to 12 months from the date you entered the country as long as it remains valid.

        As a resident, provided your licence remains valid, you can drive small vehicles for 12 months from the time you became resident.

        To ensure continuous driving in Great Britain (GB), a GB licence must be obtained before this period elapses by exchanging your licence for the GB version. If you do not do this you must stop driving.

        However, an application to exchange a full valid licence will be considered within 5 years of your date of residency.

        New Residents must not drive medium or large vehicles or passenger carrying vehicles until they have passed the relevant GB driving test(s).

        If you wish to exchange your valid licence and be issued with a GB driving licence you will need to obtain a D1 application form (available from selected Post Offices® that offer driving licence transactions, your nearest Post Office® can be found by clicking here or alternatively from the DVLA ordering service at and return the completed form to the DVLA along with one passport size photograph, relevant identification document, your valid driving licence and a fee of £50.00.

        A full list of acceptable identity documents can be found in the INF1D information leaflet which accompanies the D1 form.

        Please send your completed application to the following address:

        SA99 1BT

        I am afraid we will be unable to return your licence as, according to the exchange agreement, it has to be returned to the Licensing Issuing Authorities.

        Your driving licence should arrive within 3 weeks of us receiving your application. It might take longer if we have to check your medical or personal details. Allow at least 3 weeks for your driving licence to arrive before contacting DVLA.”

        • THE AUSSIE NOMAD September 24, 2014 at 4:46 PM #

          Thats some great information you’ve obtained there David.

        • NENEH L January 3, 2015 at 11:29 AM #

          That is actually so helpful, thankyou!

          This information is really hard to find on their websites.

        • TESS January 28, 2015 at 4:26 AM #

          David, thank you so much for sharing this information – your a life saver.

        • JACQUELINE November 14, 2015 at 8:47 PM #

          This is the best information I have read so far regarding the exact same scenario.
          My son will be joining us in the UK in March, he is on a Aus p2 license and he is a dual citizen of both UK and Australia.
          My husband and I are emigrated back to UK after 23 years. We have held both licenses always and never had to give up one.
          I have found it impossible to find the information you have provided that explains this clearly.
          I’m sure so many people have been lead to believe that the 1-2 years of Australian P status driving is not counted in the UK at all.
          Thank you for providing such detail.
          I wish this information could be kept at the top of this blog as every young Aussie would be asking the same question. It takes soooo long to get a full licence in UK, that in the meantime the chances of being in the exact predicament of above is high…
          Thanks again.

        • ADAM January 6, 2016 at 5:48 PM #

          Hi David, how did your wife get on transferring her Australian P license to the UK? I am in a similar situation and have had 2 different answers when I called the dvla. One saying yes it’s find and the other saying it must be a full Australian licence.

  14. SAM April 6, 2014 at 3:38 PM #

    Hi Aussie nomad,

    Do you know of any good info on the cheapest and best way to purchase a car to travel around the UK in? I have just arrived from Australia and me and my mate want to buy a car. Any good websites to check etc??
    Also I’ve heard insurance is really expensive maybe you can elaborate on this for me? Your help is much appreciated



  15. JULIE May 25, 2014 at 5:05 PM #

    Hi Aus Nomad,

    I’m a dual Aus and British citizen. Came over to UK June 2012 and entered on the UK passport. I’m working and now resident in the UK. I’ve just bought a car and obviously want to drive it. Can I front up at Wimbledon and exchange my 5 year Australian licence over for a UK licence. Expiry on the Aus liicence is 2016 ? What passport do I take??



    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD May 26, 2014 at 8:58 AM #

      Hi Julie, the way I understand the drivers licence swap over is that you need to do it within 12 months of moving to the UK in order to have a direct swap. If you leave it longer you have to take the theory test but it could be different for you given you have dual citizenship. I’d just front up to the Wimbledon office with your Australian licence and see what they tell you as I just can’t be sure of the right answer.

  16. ADAM July 28, 2014 at 6:10 PM #

    Hi there,

    Thank you for all the information on your page. A couple of questions, if I may?
    I’m a dual British/Australian citizen who will be moving to the Netherlands in the next six months, and will be living there indefinitely, courtesy of my EU passport. What I’m concerned about is, Holland has some crazy bureaucratic rules regarding the exchange of non-EU drivers’ licenses for Dutch ones. I really, really don’t want to have to take my tests all over again after having driven a manual car, incident free (touch wood) for more than ten years. So what I was thinking of doing, is exchanging my Aussie license for a British one, ahead of my move to the Netherlands. I’ll be visiting the UK at least twice before my “big” move to Europe, but it seems that I have to have been “resident” in Britain continuously for at least 185 days before I’m allowed to do this. Is there any way around this? Can I not just go to the Wimbledon DVLA centre, documents and paperwork in hand, and make the exchange whilst I’m in the UK? Or will they ask me to provide proof of residency? I know it’s a bit subversive, I’m just wondering how set in concrete these guidelines are! Many thanks!

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD August 3, 2014 at 5:23 AM #

      Hi Adam, when I swapped my licence over I don’t remember ever being checked for how long I’d been in the UK. They do however need to see your passport as part of the process so may see if your visa hasn’t been valid long enough to grant it. You’ll also need an address for them to post out the UK drivers licence as its not issued on the spot. They take your OZ licence off you on the spot and then you wait a couple of weeks to get your UK version.

      So while your theory of getting the licence should work you may want to be sure to stop off in the UK longer than a couple of days to make it all happen.

  17. THYME July 29, 2014 at 11:23 PM #

    I’m a British national, although born in Australia. I want to swap my Aus license for a british one so I can drive in other parts of Europe but have not yet been a ‘resident’ of the UK for 185 days. does my UK citizenship override the residency requirement?

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD August 3, 2014 at 5:20 AM #

      Hi Thyme, I’d imagine your British citizenship should override that as I imagine you entered the UK using your british passport? I’d just show up at the DVLA office and ask the question about swapping your licence.

    • TOMLW March 10, 2017 at 10:55 AM #

      Hi thyme, I am about to come into this scenario, if this message gets to you would you mind letting me know how it worked out?!
      Im trying to see if I can get a british license and then campervan and travel insurance for a europe trip when I arrive in the UK for 2 weeks, I have a British passport…

  18. SOPHIE August 2, 2014 at 1:41 PM #

    I’m on a probationary licence (P2) does all of this till apply or is it going to be more complicated. I’m moving to London for 2 years on a Youth Mobility Visa

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD August 3, 2014 at 5:04 AM #

      Hi Sophie, I believe you need a full licence to be able to transfer it over to a UK equivalent. You should still be able to drive there for the first 12 months but after that I’m not sure. Best to speak to the DVLA when you get there would be my suggestion.

  19. DIEGO August 4, 2014 at 5:05 PM #

    Hi there, thanks for all the information on the page. I will like to make a question:
    I’m from Colombia (Latin America) and I’m planning to travel to study in London, so I will stay there with a Tier 4 (General) student visa. I want to buy a motorcycle while I study. Are there any requirements to do this?
    Many thanks!

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD August 8, 2014 at 1:51 PM #

      Hi Diego, I’m afraid I’m not familiar with what is and isn’t possible on a student visa.

  20. SAM August 15, 2014 at 11:37 PM #

    Hi Chris.

    Just a quick question for ya, i am from OZ currently living in Italy, I have an OZ and Italian EU passport. Duel citizenship.
    I can drive in Italy for one year then because i have an OZ license i will need to do my theory test and driving test from scratch after driving on this earth for 28years.

    what i was thinking was to enter the UK with my Italian EU passport stay at my mates address. get my license swapped then move back to Italy then swap that for an italian licence. lot cheaper and avoid the bureaucratic nightmare in Italy and the ridiculous 7000+ questions you need to learn “in Italian” only to become a p plater again…how feasible is my idea ? thanks

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD August 17, 2014 at 7:52 PM #

      Hi Sam, to swap your licence in the UK it takes around 2-3 weeks so you’d be without your licence for that period of time and have to either stay in the UK or fly back to pick it up later on. They also ask to see your passport in the process and as it would need to be your Australian one I’m not sure they’d let you swap it given you don’t have a visa in your Australian passport to live/work in the UK. If you produce your EU passport they may just send you off to Italy to do it there instead.

      I’d say you can give it a try and see what happens but I’ve no idea on your chances. If you do go ahead with it I’d love to know how you get on.

      • SAM August 17, 2014 at 9:12 PM #

        Thanks heaps yep I may give it a go and see how it goes.

        • MARISSA February 25, 2015 at 3:46 AM #

          Hi Sam, I was wondering how you got on with presenting your EU passport with your Oz licence in exchange for the UK one? I am in a very similar situation…would love to know how you solved it! Thanks

  21. STEPH September 3, 2014 at 9:26 PM #

    The people I work for want me to exchange my AUS license for a UK license. The problem is I am only here for a few more months before I go back to AUS and I was wondering if I do exchange my license how difficult will it be to re-exchange it for an AUS license when I return home ?.. I don’t want to exchange it if I will have issues when I return home

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD September 4, 2014 at 3:55 PM #

      Hi Steph, its easy to get your licence back in AUS on your return. You show them your UK licence, pay the fee to get your licence for however long you want and thats it.

  22. DAVID September 20, 2014 at 3:23 PM #

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks for your post. Can I just ask: when you exchanged your Australian driving licence for a UK licence, did you get a new full 10 year UK licence or a UK licence which is valid only for the same time as your original Australian licence? (i.e. if my Australian licence expires in December 2014 and I apply in September 2014, will the new UK licence be valid until September 2024? Or only until December 2014?)

    Also when you went to get your Australian licence back in Australia, did you have to pay a fee only in respect of any new period? i.e. if your UK licence expired in 2018, and you applied today in Australia for a 5 year Australian driving licence, would you only pay for one year (i.e. for the year 2019) because you have already paid (in the UK) for the years 2014-2018? Or do you have to pay for the full 5 years in Australian again (i.e. you pay in the UK and then you have to pay for the same period of time again in Australia?)

    Thanks for your help.


    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD September 20, 2014 at 3:35 PM #

      Hi David, when I exchanged my licence I did get a full 10 year licence yes, even thought my aus licence only had 1 year left on it. And when I got my licence back in Australia I paid as if it was a new licence with a new start period etc. There is no overlap between the two and how much you pay etc.

      • DAVID September 20, 2014 at 7:26 PM #

        Thanks very much Chris for letting me know. David.

  23. DAVID September 20, 2014 at 7:25 PM #

    Hi Chris,

    Just another question: does your UK driver’s licence show that it has been “exchanged” from an Australian licence? I see from page 5 of this DVLA form (see: it says:

    “If you got an EC/EEA licence by exchanging one from a designated country (see section
    3), it will only be valid in GB for 12 months. However, you can exchange it for a GB licence.”

    I was wondering whether if you exchanged your Australian licence for a UK licence, whether you can then use that exchanged UK licence in Italy or another EU country? See also the following website ( which says:

    “If you have an EU driving licence that has been issued in exchange for a non‑EU licence in the country where you now live, and you wish to move to another EU country with your converted licence, you cannot assume that your new licence will be recognised there as this is up to each EU country. You will need to check with the local authorities in your new country which conditions apply for recognising non-EU licences.”

    I’m not sure if you used your exchanged UK driver licence in another EU country? Did it work?

    Thanks for your help.


    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD September 23, 2014 at 9:10 AM #

      Hi David, in theory I’d imagine you could exchange your exchanged UK licence for an EU licence but it would be depending on if you have rights to live/work in the appropriate EU country you want to exchange it for. I’ve driven in the EU but never looked to exchange that licence for another one in Europe so can’t help you there.

  24. KYM September 25, 2014 at 11:43 AM #

    Hey Chris,
    Love your work on this site. So far it has been THE MOST insightful webpage I have found for Aussies living in the UK. Just thought I’d let you know that all of the UK DVLA offices have now closed including Wimbledon and the postal option seems to be the only one. See here…
    Also in regards to opening a bank account, HSBC and Nationwide would not accept printed Australian bank statements as proof of UK address. Which bank did you open an account with and did you use a statement printed from the internet or one mailed on watermarked paper from Aus?
    Cheers Mate

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD October 5, 2014 at 2:16 PM #

      Hi Kym, thanks for the details on the DVLA offices closing up. Thats a really crazy move in my mind to close up all your offices and rely on posting everything into them.

      As for the bank account, I got mine with Lloyds and everything was really easy to do. I just used a printed statement from the NAB as I opted to have my statements delivered online and not by post. I don’t believe you can just print a normal listing from your internet banking.

  25. LLOYD September 28, 2014 at 7:46 AM #

    I am one of the grey brigade heading for UK for second time but this time will do some driving.
    In Oz I drive aToyota Corolla Automatic but it seems that it is impossible to get one when flying into Bournemouth.Combining this with the fact that in UK it is impossible to get a car with an indicator stick on the left hand side is aldso surprising and abit daunting for the safety of the older driver.Can you help? Also are there any variations in road laws or driving behaviour patterns?

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD September 30, 2014 at 4:24 AM #

      Hi Lloyd, driving in the UK is mostly similar to Australia except for a few small differences. In terms of the car only the indicators are backwards and after a few times putting on the windscreen wipers instead of the indicator you’ll get the hang of that quickly. Speed limits are all in miles per hour and signage can be somewhat lax so just be sure you are aware of the speed limits in different places like the motorways etc so as to not get into trouble.

  26. LUCY October 4, 2014 at 1:50 PM #

    Thank you for an extremely informative post. Just a quick one- where is the office you went to in Wimbledon to get your licence exchanged? And did they exchange it for your there and then, or did it still have to get sent off and wait 3 weeks for it to be returned? Do you just go along or is it only open for this at certain times?

    Many thanks

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD October 5, 2014 at 2:04 PM #

      Hi Lucy, the Wimbledon office has now been closed as have all their other offices so I believe the only option is to post your application off now which is extremely annoying. At the office they just sighted my passport and processed the application, I still had to wait for the new drivers licence to be sent out to me.

  27. EMMA November 12, 2014 at 10:27 AM #

    Hello, the information on this site is great.

    I just have a few questions. I am moving to the UK next month with my boyfriend. I am an Australian/UK duel citizen with an Australian licence. From what I have read here I should be able to send off my details right away to change from my Australian to UK licence (as I’m a citizen). I hope this is right.

    My questions are about buying and insuring a car. Can I buy and insure a car in the interim (until I have my British licence). Also is it possible for my boyfriend to jointly buy and be insured for driving the car? He is not a UK citizen but is a 5 year UK ancestry visa holder. Does anyone know if insurance premiums are going to be massive for him if he is using his Australian licence in the beginning.

    Would really appreciate anyone’s thoughts on these issues.

    Thank you very much.

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD November 13, 2014 at 2:24 PM #

      Hi Emma, I don’t see a problem with you buying and insuring a car as you are a dual citizen. So you’re as local as they get and will be covered by all the insurance companies and so on.

      As for your boyfriend I’m not sure. The visa should be almost equal to yours as its an ancestry visa but in terms of insurance cover you’d need to speak with a few companies to find out what the cut off is in terms of coverage. It’s possible they would look at him differently as hes not got a UK passport so my advise is to contact them and see.

      Would love to know what you find out, it could help others in the same situation.

      • CLARE July 9, 2015 at 2:01 AM #

        Hi, I’m a dual Aussie/UK Citizen, my husband (an Aussie with a UK resident visa) and I have just moved to the UK for a 5 year period. We have found a car to buy but it is virtually impossible to get insurance. Some companies say, you have to have lived permanently here for 1 year some say 3 years. Some will not provide any cover for my husband until he has a UK licence and then only if he has been driving here for a full year. Also they do not accept any no claim discount for Australian driving, so you have to start at zero discount! Q1. Does anyone out there know of an insurance company that has been easy to deal with? Q2 does anyone know if the transfer of driving licence dates your UK licence from the start of your Aussie licence or is it as if you have a brand new licence?

        Great website by the way!

        • THE AUSSIE NOMAD July 11, 2015 at 1:14 AM #

          Hi Clare, I’mn no help on the insurance side but would love to know what you end up doing. For the licence I can say it’s dated from the time you change it and not backdated to the aussie date.

        • LIDDELL September 8, 2015 at 9:42 PM #

          Admiral worked for us and accepted NRMA no claim discount and my aussie licence for 12 months.

        • TOMLW March 10, 2017 at 11:01 AM #

          Hi Clare, did you find a company that worked in the end? and what sort of proof were they asking for the time you had lived there?

    • JAN May 28, 2015 at 6:41 AM #

      My daughter is having massive problems getting motor insurance to drive in the UK. She has 10 years driving experience on a full licence. She has a car but the cheapest insurance is for way more than the car is worth. Friends and family have tried adding her to their insurance but no insurance company will cover her. Even if she manages to get insurance she cannot open a bank account in order to pay her premium by direct debit (apparently all the rules have changed since she was last in England four years ago) They want a utility bill with her UK address on it – she is staying with a family so how does one get around that problem?

      • THE AUSSIE NOMAD June 1, 2015 at 1:10 PM #

        I’m no insurance expert so really can’t help here I’m afraid.

  28. EMMA November 19, 2014 at 6:37 PM #

    Hi I’m Australian that has moved over on a tier 5 I’ve been driving on my australia n license but I went to exchange it this week and notices its expired! I’ve tried contacting the licensing center but I’m having some trouble, I spoke to someone in the UK they said speak to some in australia and ask for a letter to hand in with my license. I was on hold for a hour which just chewed up all of my mobile credit. What do I do where do I go ( lives in Cornwall) im a little lost on what to do and I want to do the right thing.

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD November 24, 2014 at 10:44 AM #

      Hi Emma, as your licence is an Australian one you’ll have to speak to people back here in Australia to get it re issued/renewed. The folks in the UK won’t be able to help you as they have no authority over the licence system in Australia. I’d suggest getting signed up with Skype and buying some credit to call home and sort it out.

  29. JOE MCKEE November 20, 2014 at 6:53 PM #

    Hi my wife is an Australian citizen with a Queensland automatic licence.
    Does she need to obtain a Queensland manual license or a Uk manual license or will her existing QLD automatic license be ok?
    Thanks for your help.

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD November 24, 2014 at 10:58 AM #

      Hi Joe, don’t take this as an official statement but I believe the UK has the same options for automatic/manual licences as well so if your wife converted her licence in the UK she’d be granted an equivalent UK automatic licence. If you have concerns or if your wife wishes to drive a manual car in the UK its probably easier to swap licences here in Australia before heading abroad.

  30. MAURIZIO November 24, 2014 at 3:44 AM #

    Hi, I wondering if any of you guys can help me. My driving test was passed in Italy in march 1991 and as the category B I have acquired the right to drive a 125 CC motorbike. At that time A1 and A2 categories were not in place yet so, not displayed on the driving licence. In 2001 I had to change my licence in to the UK one and, being in place now A1 and A2 as well as A categories, my new licence was given back to me without the acquired right A1 because not showing in the old paper licence. I have done a lot of research and,ddiscovered that I am entitled to have a category A1 on my licence having passed the test before 2001. DVLA is very hard to understand, and they told me to contact the Italian authority instead of checking if I am right or not. There is anybody out there that can suggest me what to do, please ? Thank you very much. Maurizio

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD November 24, 2014 at 11:13 AM #

      Hi Maurizio, I’m afraid I can’t help you as my knowledge only relates to Australians getting a UK licence.

  31. JEREMY November 27, 2014 at 7:00 AM #

    Hi. I was wondering if you know if existing demerit points (speeding ticket point) get transferred over to the U.K. license?

    Thanks in advance.

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD December 2, 2014 at 8:38 PM #

      Hi Jeremy, I don’t know the answer but would imagine they don’t as there didn’t seem to be much research on my application when I swapped over. Best to call the DVLA to find out beforehand just in case.

  32. JEREMY December 2, 2014 at 8:45 PM #

    Hello again.

    If I arrived in the U.K. a month ago on a tier 5 youth mobility visa, do I have to wait for 185 days to pass before exchanging my license, or does it just mean that I have to have the right to remain in the U.K. for 185 days,which I do?


    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD December 2, 2014 at 9:20 PM #

      Hi Jeremy, you need to have been in the UK for at least 185 days before you can exchange the licence for a UK one.

  33. STACEY December 18, 2014 at 5:52 AM #

    This has been quite a helpful post. I didn’t realise before that you had to mail off your passport as well and I’m quite hesitant to do that! May have to pop by the Wimbledon office like you did. Is that their only location in London? It’s a bit out of the way for me but I’d rather make the trip than send them my passport in the mail.

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD December 18, 2014 at 10:31 AM #

      Hi Stacey, unfortunately the DVLA have closed all offices so your only option is to post off your passport now.

  34. JEREMY December 22, 2014 at 1:15 AM #


    If I’ve had my license for six years, when they exchange it, will it say the original start date of my old license, or will it start from now, and I won’t be able to hire a car at places that require you to have had your license for a year?


    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD December 22, 2014 at 4:42 PM #

      Hi Jeremy, when they swap your licence over the issue date will be from that day. The reason is you’ve never had a licence in the UK before that time so its impossible to back date it. I’d never heard of anywhere requiring you to have your licence for over a year but if its a concern then perhaps just stick with your Australian licence instead.

  35. JEREMY December 22, 2014 at 5:35 PM #

    Which of the DVLA Swansea postcodes is the correct one for the license exchange?


  36. HOLLY December 31, 2014 at 4:10 AM #

    I came quite late to driving, and am still on my P plates in Australia. This was sufficient to allow me an international drivers permit and has let me rent cars here etc, but do you think that it will be enough to exchange my license here?

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD December 31, 2014 at 5:40 PM #

      Hi Holly, I’m afraid you need a full licence to be able to exchange it in the UK.

  37. JEREMY January 6, 2015 at 5:11 PM #

    Hi again.

    Just to provide you with up-to-date correct information. You do not need to have been in the U.K. For 185 days before applying, as you stated earlier. You just need to have the right to remain. I know this, because I’m here on a tier 5 youth mobility scheme visa, and have only arrived 2 months ago, and I just got my new license.

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD January 6, 2015 at 5:19 PM #

      Thanks Jeremy, appreciate you taking the time to let me know of the change. Will be useful for others looking to do the same as you have.

  38. MATT January 10, 2015 at 8:10 PM #


    does anyone know what my MC truck Drivers license is quivelant in the uk?

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD January 10, 2015 at 10:34 PM #

      Hi Matt, sorry not sure what that would convert to in the UK. But I think for anything bigger than a car you need to undergo additional testing to ensure you are qualified.

  39. KYLIE January 12, 2015 at 11:37 PM #


    I am an Australian living in London on an ancestral visa and I have never had a license either here or at home. Does anyone know if it is possible for me to get a provisional license in the UK? I have had a look online but it mentions UK passport holders or those with right to remain visas.


    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD January 18, 2015 at 3:53 PM #

      Hi Kylie, as you are in the UK on an ancestral visa you have the right to remain in the UK so can apply for a licence like anybody else in the UK.

  40. STUART January 31, 2015 at 11:50 PM #

    G’day Chris,

    Like all above, a big thank you for your info. My wife and I moved to Edinburgh full-time April last year (lucky dual citz) and we both still smile at the complexity/bureaucracy the Brits seem to love/put up with.

    It appears the GOV.UK site has been revamped (“Is there anything wrong with this page?” links all over the site) and now impossible for a reasonably savy interweb user to find any thing about the legalities, your advice priceless. For those umming and ah-ing re making the swap, a couple points – the additional cost of insurance on your vehicle in the UK if you’re still making use of an Aus licence. Secondly, the UK drivers licence also saves a heap of hassle when getting hire cars around the UK/EU.

    Also, slightly off track but queried above, the Bank Account setup palava. It turned out the best solution we found was to open an account in Aus with an int bank, our choice HSBC. They go through all the Identity/AML (anti money laundering) checks while you’re in Aus. Any mishaps, and there where, you’re in the comfort of your own country to sort it out.

    Once we’d found a place and had proof of residency in Scotland (usual – lease, power bill etc) we went to the local branch and changed to our Scottish address. Believe me, you need that UK bank account address to pickup essentials such as a mobile phone with a decent data plan, an internet service, cable etc.

    Thanks again Chris, I owe you a pint…

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD February 10, 2015 at 9:45 PM #

      Hi Stuart, thanks for the details on your experiences. Now that I’m no longer in the UK getting feedback from others is hugely useful so I really owe you a pint 🙂

  41. ERIN February 6, 2015 at 5:14 PM #

    Hello, love this blog, has helped me so much! Wondering if you could provide any advice about buying a car? My new employers in Surrey have said I need a car as part of the conditions of employment. Can I lease a car or is buying the only option? Am I able to buy a car on youth visa? Thanks so much 🙂 Erin

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD February 10, 2015 at 10:28 PM #

      Hi Erin, I’ve not got all the info on buying a car but I’d say leasing one would be the easiest option for you as they take care of most of the insurances etc for you. You can buy a car but getting insurance I’ve been told is a bit more difficult. You’d want to swap your oz licence to a UK one as well to make either process easier.

  42. SAM February 6, 2015 at 10:11 PM #


    whils tbeing here in the UK (11 months) have noticed my Aus (QLD) license has expired. Have searched DVLA site and assume i just apply via the mentioned D1 form. assume this will be fine even if license has expired.
    Process seems easier getting a UK license than redoing the QLD one.

    Any help appreciated.


    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD February 10, 2015 at 10:29 PM #

      Hi Sam, I think your licence needs to still be valid to exchange it I’m afraid. Would be best to call the DVLA for clarification though.

  43. SYLVIA February 26, 2015 at 5:54 PM #

    Hi, Thanks so much for yr information. I’m holding Singapore license and i wanted to change to UK license. Because now i’m buying the car insurance is under commonwealth license policy. Its too too expensive compare to my friends. Do you have any idea where to get cheap car insurance with Commonwealth licence holder status? And another question is Do i have to stay in UK for 185 days straight? Because i go back Singapore every 2 months. Thanks in advance. Cheers.

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD March 6, 2015 at 6:37 PM #

      Hi Sylvia, I’m afraid I don’t know the best insurance options but do believe you need to live in the UK for the 185 days or at least hold a valid work permit to be there in order to swap your licence.

  44. RICHARD March 1, 2015 at 10:49 AM #

    Hi – I have dual uk/aus passport- if I use my Oz license in the uk, am I allowed to own a car.

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD March 6, 2015 at 6:40 PM #

      Hi Richard, I’d say you are fine to own a car but you would want to convert your licence to avoid any problems with insurance and so on.

  45. HANNAH March 9, 2015 at 8:31 PM #

    I’m currently living in the UK on a Youth Mobility Visa I’ve been here for nearky a year and I’m needing to change over my Australian P2 licence but I can’t be without my passport for three weeks so where abouts is the Wimbledon office and do I have to book an appointment? Also when I arrive home I will be able to get my full licence rather than my P’s do you know if I have to get my P2 licence back before I can sit my test for my fulls or I can change it straight over to my fulls from my UK licence?
    Thank you in advance 🙂

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD March 12, 2015 at 5:15 PM #

      HI Hannah, I’m afraid they closed down all of their offices and the only want to swap your licence now is to post it off. Also I’m not sure if you can transfer a P2 licence as it should be a full licence I believe.

      In terms of getting your licence back at home, you just show them your UK licence and they process the paperwork to swap you back.

  46. ADRIAN April 12, 2015 at 9:27 AM #

    Hi I’ve still got my old paper licence from the UK ( got my Licence in 1982) is there any point in changing it over to the new type ( photo licence ) as I’m under the impression that these are now only for 10 years .
    Have got a MR licence issued here in Queensland not worried about that so much while reading the posts one of the posters asked about converting his MC licence I might be wrong here but I think you’ll find that might be HGV Class 1.
    And probably will “resit” the theory side of things

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD April 14, 2015 at 3:08 PM #

      Hi Adrian, the new UK licences are for 10 years as I have one myself. I guess you’d just have to check and make sure your licence is still valid over there especailly if you’ve been gone awhile.

  47. ASHLEE April 27, 2015 at 1:09 PM #

    Hi. I am an NZ citizen but living in Aussie at the moment. so i have both an aussie and NZ full licences. can i send in my Australian license for does it need to be a nz license for the swap??

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD April 27, 2015 at 4:35 PM #

      Hi Ashlee I’d imagine you could use either drivers licence but they may ask for your NZ one as you’d need to send off your NZ passport as part of the application so may be confusing to get an aussie licence and nz passport.

  48. KELLY May 18, 2015 at 5:39 PM #

    Hi team.

    I just called up the DVLA about any alternative way to handing in my driving application form and passport (including going to their main office in Swansea). But they said there is no other way but to post it, even if you hand it in at the DVLA in Swansea they will just hand it over to the department that deals with it. They say it takes up to three weeks to get your passport back, how long did it take other people to get their passport and new licence?

  49. BILLY May 20, 2015 at 7:21 PM #

    Hi, will the the exchanged license (UK license) have the same expiry date as my Australian license?

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD May 25, 2015 at 2:45 PM #

      Hi Billy, UK licences run for 10 years and start when you pay the fee. At least mine did.

  50. ELAINE June 2, 2015 at 8:10 AM #

    My boyfriend is looking to come over to the uk to work, he holds an Australian MC truck licence, can you or anyone who has been through this tell me what he has to do in order to obtain or can he jus transfer his truck license from there to here? Please could do with some advice thank you

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD June 2, 2015 at 4:26 PM #

      Hi Elaine, I think your boyfriend would need to call up the DVLA and see if its possible. I know a normal car licence can be transferred but given truck driving is a bit more advanced he may need to sit a theory test or something to cross over. But in saying that I’m just guessing as I have no experience with it.

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