Driving in the UK
Licences issued outside the UK, and international driving permits, are valid in the UK for twelve months. After twelve months it is necessary to obtain a UK licence by arranging to take a driving test. If this is not done, you run the risk of being prosecuted for driving without a valid licence and will invalidate your insurance. Nationals of the European Union who take up residence in another member state can continue to drive, using their own national licence, for as long as it remains valid, even after twelve months has elapsed.
Licences from the following countries can be exchanged for a full UK licence:
Australia, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Malta, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland, and Zimbabwe.
Application forms for UK driving licences and explanatory leaflet can be obtained from all main post offices. Application forms for a driving test can be obtained from the Driving Standards Agency.
Insurance Cover for your Car
You must be insured before you can drive a car in the UK. There are two types of insurance cover available in the UK, Comprehensive or Third Party, Fire & Theft. The compulsory Third Party insurance does not cover loss or damage to your own car caused by unknown or uninsured persons. Car insurance is very expensive for people under the age of 30.
Taxing a car in the UK
All cars need a road tax licence before they can be driven in the UK. Road Tax discs must be displayed at all times on the car windscreen and can be purchased at main post offices. This costs between £100-200 depending on the age and engine-size of your car.
All cars over three years old must be tested annually for roadworthiness (the test is known as the M.O.T. and can be carried out by most garages.)
Registering a car in the UK
If a car which has been registered abroad (including other EU countries) is used for more than six months in the UK, it should be registered with the DVLA.
To hire a car in the UK you must hold a full Driver’s Licence or an International Driving Licence and have been driving for twelve months or more. You must have, or arrange, valid insurance cover. Your current driving licence will have to be shown to the car hire company. There are many car-hire firms to choose from - see the “Yellow Pages” Directory for a list.
- Driving in the United Kingdom: A Guide for International Students - UK Council for International Student Affairs
- The Highway Code
- Road Safety