How to drive in Great Britain

Right. Or rather, on the left. After four years in this country I am finally sorting out my UK driving licence. I assumed because I had a full American licence that I could just apply for a UK one without having to take troublesome tests. Wrong. The rules for Americans and Canadians are:

For Visitors:
Provided your full licence or driving permit remains valid, you may drive vehicles up to 3.5 tonnes and with up to eight passenger seats, for up to 12 months from the date of coming to GB. However, you may only drive large vehicles which have been registered outside GB and which you have driven into the country.

For Residents (like me):
If you are the holder of an ordinary driving licence (car, moped, motorcycle entitlement) and provided your licence remains valid, you can drive any category of small vehicle shown on your licence for up to 12 months from the time you became resident. To ensure continuous driving entitlement a provisional GB licence must have been obtained and a driving test(s) passed before the 12-month period elapses. If you obtain a provisional licence during this period, you are not subject to provisional licence conditions eg displaying 'L' plates or being supervised by a qualified driver or being precluded from motorways.

However, if you do not pass a test within the 12-month concessionary period you will not be allowed to drive as a full licence holder and provisional licence conditions will apply. If you do not apply for a provisional licence within the first 12 months you must stop driving and obtain a British provisional licence with a view to passing a driving test. Provisional licence conditions will then apply.

If you are the holder of a vocational licence (minibus, bus, lorry entitlement) and a new resident, you must not drive large vehicles until you have passed the relevant GB driving test. Driving test candidates are required to pass a motor car (category B) test first before applying for provisional entitlement for larger vehicles.

For Students:
If you are a student holding a community licence you may drive cars and motorcycles in GB for as long as your licence remains valid, or until age 70. If you do not hold a licence you must have been studying here for at least six months prior to taking a driving test or applying for a full licence.

If you are a student holding a non-community licence or an international driving permit you may drive here for up to 12 months. If you hold a driving licence from a designated country you may apply to exchange this for a British one up to five years after becoming a resident here. If you do not hold a licence, or your licence was not issued in a designated country, you will need to apply for a provisional licence and then pass a driving test. You will be able to take a test and obtain a full licence once you have been in GB for six months.

For full details, application forms, and links to book your theory or practical test online visit the Directgov website.


Heylo, just want to let you know I have featured you on my monthly blog round up. Check it out :)
When I visit UK, I wasn't able to get a driving license though I do have a Canadian license. They said that I do need to go through a series of test before they would provide me a driving license. What I did, I just have my cousin drive the car because I don't want to ruin my vacation.

Popular Posts