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Wednesday, 3 October 2023

Exchanging your foreign driving licence

If you are the holder of a foreign driving licence and want or need to change to a Great Britain (GB) driving licence there are certain conditions that need to be considered when applying.

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Applying for the exchange of your foreign driving licence

If you want or need to change your driving licence for a GB driving licence, you must complete the application form D1. The D1 form is available from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) form ordering service and Post Office® branches. You will need to enclose original documentation confirming your identity and a passport style colour photograph. Send your completed application and the appropriate fee to DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1BT.

If the licence being exchanged is vocational, originally issued in Jersey, Guernsey or the Isle of Man, a D4 medical report form must be provided. The D4 form must be completed by a doctor, ensuring that all the relevant questions are completed.

If your vocational licence was issued in an European Community (EC) or European Economic Area (EEA) country. You'll need to submit a medical report form if, on exchange, you are 45 years of age or over. This applies even if your vocational licence is still current. Application forms D2 and medical form D4 are available from the DVLA form ordering service.

Premium checking service for holders of EC/EEA, Gibraltar and designated countries driving licence

If you have a full EC/EEA, Gibraltar or designated country driving licence you can exchange it for the UK equivalent using a premium checking service.

Rules for exchange

The following conditions must be met before a licence can be granted in exchange for a GB one:

  • you must be normally resident in GB and have a permanent address here
  • if you are a community driving licence holder applying for a British test at the same time as exchanging your licence and you have moved to GB having recently been permanently resident in another state of the EC or EEA,you must have been normally resident in GB for 185 days in the 12 months prior to your application for a full driving licence
  • licences from the designated countries must be current at the time the application for exchange is received at DVLA
  • your driving test must have been passed in the designated country that issued your current driving licence, please contact DVLA for advice
  • licences from the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands are acceptable for exchange if issued after 1 April 1991.Those issued in any EC or EEA country may be valid for exchange even if they have expired
  • you must surrender your foreign licence which will be returned to the issuing authority
  • international driving permits are not exchangeable
    test pass certificates are not exchangeable except for those issued in Northern Ireland or Gibraltar when the test was passed within two years of the date of the licence application
  • Japanese licences must be accompanied by an official translation, available for a fee from the Consulate General of Japan at 101-104 Piccadilly, London W1J 7JT or 2 Melville Crescent, Edinburgh, EH3 7HW
  • Republic of Korea licences must be accompanied by an official translation from the Embassy of the Republic of Korea at 60 Buckingham Gate, London, SW1E 6AJ
  • motorcycle licences from the Republic of Korea and Faroe Islands are not exchangeable

Applicants will not be considered 'normally resident' for the purposes of a driving licence application if they:

  • do not have leave to remain in the UK
  • are in the country on a temporary basis without leave to remain either while awaiting a decision on an application to stay in the UK or following a decision refusing such an application

South Africa

South African driving licences can only be exchanged if they are in the new style credit card format.

Also, the following rules apply:

  • the South African licence and photograph must be valid – since 18 March 2009, if the photograph has expired the application will be rejected
  • licences must be exchanged within five years of being resident in the UK
  • other types of licences issued in Transkei, Ciskei, Venda, KaNgwane, KwaNdebele, Gazankula, Lebowa and Bophuthatswana are not acceptable for exchange
  • if you only hold a letter of entitlement from the South African Driving Licence Authority, this must show an expiry date and be valid for six months from the date of issue

Canadian licences

If you are the holder of a Canadian licence you will receive automatic transmission only when exchanging for a British licence. This can only be upgraded to manual upon presentation of confirmation, from the relevant licensing authority, of a manual test being passed.

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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