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How Do I Change My Licence From a US to UK One?


I'm a new UK resident who recently moved from the US. I have a valid US driver's license and have been driving there for 20 years. I currently drive in the UK on that US license and can do it for another 8 months. After that time, I understand that I will have to get a UK license. As an experienced driver with a clean record, what tests will I have to take, and what prep should I do beforehand?



As a UK resident, you can exchange your foreign driving licence for the UK driving licence if it was issued by one of the following: Northern Ireland, Guernsey, Jersey, the Isle of Man, Gibraltar, Australia, Barbados, the British Virgin Isles, Canada, the Falkland Islands, the Faroe Islands, Hong Kong, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland, Zimbabwe.

If your driving licence was issued in any other country, you can only use your foreign licence for twelve months after arriving in the UK. Within this time frame, you must apply for a provisional driving licence (you can order a D1 application form via the Gov UK DLVA site), and pass practical and theory tests to get a UK driving licence and continue driving. If you allow twelve months to pass without passing these tests, you are subject to the same conditions as learner drivers when you apply for your provisional licence, and will be required to display L-plates. This is not the case if you pass both the practical and theory tests within the time frame.

The Theory Test


The theory test is designed to test your understanding of the Highway Code and road safety. These are multiple-choice questions on topics such as attitude, road signs, road markings and driving while under the effects of alcohol, drugs or medication. It is split into two basic parts, with one part testing your ability to spot potential hazards in video clips, while the other part tests your knowledge of road safety. You need to have your provisional licence before you can take your theory test, and the theory test needs to be passed before you can pass your practical test. You need to pay £31 for the theory test.

The Practical Test


The practical test will assess your ability to control a car on the roads, and you will usually be required to demonstrate skills such as moving off, indicating, changing gears, turning in the road, parking, reversing, reversing round corners, driving at roundabouts, T-junctions, box junctions and pedestrian crossings, parallel parking, bay parking and hill starts. You may be tested on your ability to perform an emergency stop or reverse parking, but these are not always part of the test. You must take the test in a manual car to receive a full UK driving licence.

In some cases, you may be able to exchange a foreign driving licence for a UK driving licence even if it was not issued in the European Economic Area or one of the designated countries. Contact the DVLA to assess the possibility, or you can get a D100 booklet from selected Post Office branches, which outlines the rules on exchanging licences.

Disclaimer: The information in the article is for general purpose information only and should not be constituted as legal advice. This article has been produced by a third party and Jardine Motors does not take any responsibility for the completeness, accuracy, or reliability with respect to the website or the information provided. Article last updated March 2016.