Many of our clients need a live-in carer who is able to drive for them. Therefore carers who can drive have a far wider range of clients that they can be introduced to.
Two thirds of our home carers are drivers, many from foreign countries. For those carers, it’s essential to make sure that your licence is valid.
Using a Foreign Licence in the UK
Visitors over 17 years of age, with a valid driving permit issued elsewhere in the world, may drive a passenger vehicle in the UK for up to 12 months. After 12 months:
- some foreign licences remain valid for use in the UK for a limited period;
- some may be exchanged for a UK licence;
- some cease to be valid and a full driving test must be taken for a British licence (GB) to be issued.
Driving with an EU/EEA-issued licence
A valid driving licence issued anywhere within the European Union (EU), or European Economic Area (EEA), may be used by the licence holder until the age of 70, or for up to three years from the time they become resident in Great Britain (whichever is longer). In order to continue driving after this period, you must get a British driving licence. EU licences can only be renewed in the country in which the holder is resident. If a driver holds a licence from another EU country and renews it in Britain, it will be converted to a UK licence.
Licence issued in a designated country
A licence issued in one of the 17 countries with which Great Britain has a reciprocal licencing agreement may be used for 12 months and then exchanged for a GB licence of an equivalent category. The 15 designated countries 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
- A Motorbike licence from the Faroe Islands and Republic of Korea is not exchangeable
Although the designated country licence is only valid for the first 12 months, it may be exchanged at any time within five years of the licence-holder becoming resident in the UK. However, after the first year the driver may not drive until that is done.
Licences from other countries
A licence issued by any other country is valid for use for one year. To continue driving, a full driving theory and practical test must be taken for the issue of a GB licence.
GOV.UK have an online tool for comprehensive information on driving in Great Britain with a non-British licence
Things to note
- A UK driving license can be used as a proof of identity/signature and/or address. It has similar value to International ID cards, however, you cannot use your driving license as a identification proof in airports and some other places, so make sure you double check if it is accepted or not!
- Most companies offer cheaper car insurance for full UK driving license holders.
- You must change your license if you are from EC/EEA member state aged 70 or for three years after becoming resident, whichever is the longer period.
- You must change your license if you are from any other country after 12 months of staying in the UK.
- You will NOT get your old driving license back after you exchange it for the UK one!
- You will NOT need to pass UK test if you are eligible for exchange, you just fill in the form, pay and you can enjoy your new license.
- You will NOT be able to change your license back into your foreign one! In most cases you will need to pass a driving test in your home country again.
- You will NOT lose your accumulated driving experience on record, your new license will have the original pass date from your old license (great for getting cheaper car insurance).