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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

European Economic Area countryExchanging your foreign licenceNorthern Ireland, Jersey, GuernseyAll other countries and students

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.

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 that is available from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) form ordering service and Post OfficeŽ  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, and the original was issued in Jersey or the Isle of Man, you must also provide a D4 medical report form that 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 (EEC) country you need only 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.

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. Licences issued in Northern Ireland must have been issued after 1 January 1976. Licences from the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands are acceptable for exchange if valid within the last 10 years. 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. However, a Northern Ireland test passed prior to 1 April 1991 is acceptable provided an application is made and the test claimed within 10 years of the date of test
  • Japanese licences must be accompanied by an official translation, available for a fee from the Consulate General of Japan at 101-104 Piccadilly, London W1V 9FN 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 are not exchangeable from the Republic of Korea

South Africa

As there are two types of South African driving licences, the following will apply:

  • the book of life, which is a driving licence and identity document. The licence part of the book will be stamped to say the applicant has exchanged their licence and the book returned to the person. For the book of life to be acceptable for licence exchange the applicant will need a letter of authority from the South African licensing authority
  • the photocard licence will be returned to the South African licensing authority

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 or a manual test is passed in this country.

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