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Tuesday, 2 October 2023

Driving on licences from all other countries, and students on a foreign licence

If you are a visitor, resident or student 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 Great Britain.

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Provided your full licence or international driving permit remains valid, you may drive vehicles up to 3.5 tonnes and with up to eight passenger seats. You will be able to drive for up to 12 months from the date of coming to GB. However, you may only drive large vehicles which have been registered outside GB and which you have driven into the country.


If you are the holder of an ordinary driving licence or a valid international driving permit, you can drive any category of small vehicle shown on your licence. You will be able to drive for up to 12 months from the time you became a resident.

To ensure continuous driving entitlement a provisional GB licence must have been obtained and a driving test(s) passed before the 12-month period elapses.

If you obtain a provisional licence during this period, you are not subject to provisional licence conditions eg displaying 'L' plates or being supervised by a qualified driver or being precluded from motorways.

If you don’t pass a test within the 12-month concessionary period you cannot drive as a full licence holder, and provisional licence conditions will apply.

If you wish to continue driving you must apply for a British provisional licence with a view to passing a driving test. Provisional licence conditions will then apply.

If you don’t apply for a provisional licence within the first 12 months you must stop driving.

New residents who hold a vocational licence (minibus, bus or lorry entitlement) must not drive large vehicles until they have passed the relevant GB driving test.

Driving test candidates are required to pass a motor car (category B) test first before applying for provisional entitlement for larger vehicles.

Driving in GB as a student

If you are a student holding a community licence you may drive cars and motorcycles in GB for as long as your licence remains valid. If you don’t have a licence you must have been studying here for at least six months before taking a driving test or applying for a full licence.

If you are a student holding a non-community licence or an international driving permit you may drive here for up to 12 months.

For up to five years after becoming resident, you can apply to exchange your driving licence from a designated country for a British one.

If you don’t hold a licence, or your licence was not issued in a designated country, you’ll need to apply for a provisional licence and pass a driving test. You will be able to take a test and obtain a full licence once you have been in GB for six months.

International driving permits

Valid international driving permits, also known as convention permits, must comply with the formats prescribed in international legislation. Permits must be in booklet form, with white inside pages translated into multiple languages.

International driving licences

Neither the United Nations nor any of its subsidiary bodies issues or authorises the issue of international driver licences. An international driving licence is not valid proof of driving entitlement in GB.

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