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Tuesday, 2 October 2023

Driving on licences from Northern Ireland, Jersey, Guernsey, Isle Of Man, Gibraltar or Designated Countries

If you are a visitor or resident in Great Britain (GB) and still have a driving licence issued in the country you have come from, there are certain conditions that affect how long you can drive, and what you can drive in GB.

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Northern Ireland (NI)

You can exchange a full NI driving licence for a full GB licence or you can use your licence here until it runs out. When your licence expires you may apply for a GB licence. A NI ordinary licence may be exchanged provided it was issued on or after 1 January 1976.

A vocational licence may be exchanged if issued on or after 1 April 1986. You may take a driving test in GB using your NI provisional or full licence if this gives the appropriate entitlement. The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) cannot register an address in England, Scotland or Wales on to a NI licence.

Mutual recognition of driving disqualifications

Since 11 October 2023 there has been mutual recognition between GB & NI of driving disqualifications.

This allows:

  • recognition in GB of disqualifications which were imposed under NI jurisdiction
  • endorsement of GB counterparts issued to NI licence holders
  • revocation of an NI licence in conformity with the Road Traffic (New Drivers) Act 1995
  • revocation of an NI licence on grounds disability and prospective disability

Reciprocal provisions came into force in NI at the same time as those made in GB.

Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man

If you are a visitor in GB and provided your full ordinary licence remains valid, you can drive any category of vehicle shown on your licence for 12 months. If you are the holder of a vocational licence, you can drive British registered, or vehicles registered outside GB that you have driven into the country, for a period up to 12 months.

If you are resident in GB and the holder of an ordinary driving licence, you may drive for up to 12 months from the time you became resident. To continue driving after that time your licence must be exchanged for the British equivalent. A licence from Jersey, Guernsey or the Isle of Man can be exchanged for a GB one provided it has been issued since 1 April 1991. If you are the holder of a vocational licence, you may drive for 12 months and may exchange your vocational entitlement for the British equivalent.

Mutual Recognition - Isle of Man

Since 23 May 2023 mutual recognition of driving disqualifications between GB and NI was extended to include the Isle of Man (IoM).

This means that drivers who are disqualified from holding a driving licence in GB or NI on or after 23 May 2023 will also be disqualified from driving, holding or obtaining a driving licence in the Isle of Man. Similarly, if a court in the Isle of Man disqualifies a driver from driving they will also be disqualified from driving in GB or NI until the disqualification has ended.

Mutual recognition between GB or NI and IoM will only be in relation to driving disqualifications. The New Drivers Act and fixed penalties will not be included.

Gibraltar and Designated Countries

GB has reciprocal exchange agreements with Gibraltar and 15 designated countries.

The designated countries are:

Australia, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Falkland Islands, Faroe Islands*, Hong Kong, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Republic of Korea*, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland and Zimbabwe.

If you are a visitor in GB, and hold full ordinary entitlement, you can drive any category of vehicle, up to 3.5 tonnes and with up to eight passenger seats, shown on your licence for up to 12 months from the date you last entered GB, whether or not you brought the vehicle into GB. If you also hold full entitlement to drive large lorries or buses you are only allowed to drive large vehicles registered outside the GB that you have driven into the country.

If you are a resident in GB and provided your full licence remains valid, you can drive small vehicles for 12 months from the time you became resident. To ensure continuous driving entitlement, you must exchange your licence for a GB one before the 12 months end.

If you do not do this you must stop driving although you may apply to exchange your licence at any time within five years of becoming resident.

*Motorcycle entitlement from the Republic of Korea and Faroe Islands is not exchangeable.

Vocational designated licence holders

New residents may not drive medium or large vehicles or passenger carrying vehicles until they have passed the relevant GB driving test. Gibraltar vocational licence holders can drive for 12 months, and can exchange a valid vocational licence within five years of date of residency.

What happens if you drive a lorry, bus or coach professionally

If you exchange your non-UK driving licence for a UK one, it might affect your Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC). Find out what rules apply if you exchange your driving licence while you have Driver CPC or you want to get it.

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