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Legal guide to UK motoring, sections for law enforcement, Driver licensing, learner and new drivers, buying and selling, speeding fines, owning a vehicle, wheel clamping, traffic information.

Driver Licencing

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Foreign Licence in GB

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Driving on licences from Northern Ireland, Jersey, Guernsey, Isle of Man or Gibraltar

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 Great Britain.

Northern Ireland

You can exchange a full Northern Ireland 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 Northern Ireland 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 Great Britain using your Northern Ireland 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 Northern Ireland licence.

Mutual recognition of driving disqualifications between Great Britain (GB) and Northern Ireland (NI).

Since 11 October 2004 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. An NI driving licence holder may apply for a GB counterpart by completing form D9 (available from DVLA). This can be kept with their NI licence and will allow them to avail themselves of the Fixed Penalty Scheme for certain types of offence
  • 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 Northern Ireland at the same time as those made in Great Britain.

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.


Great Britain has reciprocal exchange agreements with Gibraltar and 15 designated countries. The designated countries are:

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

If you are a visitor in GB, temporarily in this country and hold full ordinary entitlement you can drive any category of vehicle, up to 3.5 tonnes and with up to eight passenger seats. However, this must be 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 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 a GB licence must be obtained before this period elapses, by exchanging your licence for a GB one. 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 is not exchangeable.

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.

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