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Relocation: How to change your Foreign Driving License for a UK one

It is inevitable when relocating to the UK that many people would like to drive and own their own car.

In order to obtain a UK driving licence you need to be classified as a resident in the UK first.

You’re automatically resident if either:

  • you spent 183 or more days in the UK in the tax year
  • your only home was in the UK – you must have owned, rented or lived in it for at least 91 days in total – and you spent at least 30 days there in the tax year

However do not worry if you are not yet classed as a resident in the UK, you may still drive a car in the UK for 1 year if you have a licence in your home country.

Once you have your residency there are two routes to take depending on where you come from – a Designated Country or not.

EEA and Designated Countries – Driving licence exchange

If your home country is in the European Economic Area or one of the following designated countries you may exchange your driving licence through directions on the government website. However you are not required to do so if your current licence is valid.

  • Australia
  • Barbados
  • British Virgin Islands
  • Provinces and Territories of Canada
  • Falkland Islands
  • Faroe Islands
  • Hong Kong
  • Japan
  • New Zealand
  • Monaco
  • Republic of Korea
  • Singapore
  • South Africa
  • Switzerland
  • Zimbabwe

Another important part to note is that you must have a licence with a manual depiction on if you want to drive manual car. If not, then you are restricted to automatic cars only.

Other Countries (not designated and not part of the EEA)

You are not able to exchange your licence, however you are able to drive in the UK for 1 year if you hold your home residency driving licence.

To apply for a UK Driving licence you will need to go through the testing procedure – Theory and Practical Test.

Thanks for reading our guide to exchanging your Foreign Driver’s Licence to a UK one.

Should you wish for any further information or assistance with relocation please feel free to contact us on +44 (0)161 282 5558 or by email at

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