1. Legal requirements.

2. Driving licences.

3. Driving in the UK on your existing licence.

4. Mopeds and motorcycles.

5. Learning to drive in the UK.

6. Car insurance.

7. Buying a vehicle in the UK.

8. Road tax.

9. Motoring organisations.


1. Legal requirements

Anyone driving a vehicle in the UK must:

• Have a valid, current licence to drive that type of vehicle.
• Be covered by insurance to drive that specific vehicle.
• Ensure that the vehicle is registered in the owner’s name.
• Have valid road tax.
• Register the car if they are going to drive in the UK for six months or more.
• Have a valid MOT certificate for the vehicle.

Before driving any vehicle (car, motorbike, van etc) in the United Kingdom, England, Scotland,Wales and Northern Ireland), you should check that you meet all of the legal requirements which apply (a) to the driver and (b) to the vehicle; and that you are aware of the correct procedures, which may be very different from your home country. Detailed information about all aspects of driving in England, Scotland and Wales (Great Britain) can be found on the website of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA).

Please note that if you are bringing your car from outside the UK into the UK for more than 6 months you will have to register the vehicle. You can find out more about this on the Directgov site. Registering the vehicle can be costly and it may be cheaper in the long run to consider buying a second-hand car in the UK when you arrive and sell the vehicle when you leave the UK.


2. Driving licences

You must have a licence that allows you to drive in the UK. If you wish to drive in the UK, you must first find out whether or not you can use your existing licence and, if so, for how long. This will depend on where your licence was issued. You may be able to:

• Drive in the UK using your current licence.
• Apply to exchange your existing licence for a UK licence.


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3. Driving in the UK on your existing licence

If you have a driving licence issued by a country which is in the European Economic Area (EEA) (The European Economic Area is composed of all the countries of the European Union (EU), namely Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Republic of Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom PLUS Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein), and you are visiting the UK, you can drive for as long as your licence remains valid. Alternatively, you can apply at any time to exchange your licence for a British one. If you wish to continue driving in the UK after your EEA licence expires, a British driving licence must be obtained.

If you have a driving licence issued by a country which is NOT in the European Economic Area (EEA) but you hold a licence from a designated country, you can drive any category of vehicle shown on your licence for up to 12 months from the date you last entered the UK.

It is a criminal offence to drive using a licence that is not valid in the UK. In addition, if you do so, your car insurance will be invalidated and you will be committing a further criminal offence of ‘driving without valid motor insurance’.


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4. Mopeds and motorcycles

Even if you have a licence for driving a car, you still need to complete a Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) course before riding a moped or a motorcycle in the UK. On successful completion of the course you will get a training certificate (DL196) which is valid for two years. You will need to show your certificate to the examiner when you take your practical test. If you have any queries about CBT phone the Driving Standards Agency on 0300 200 1122 and ask for the CBT Section or visit the Directgov website.


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5. Learning to drive in the UK

If you wish to drive a car in the UK but do not currently hold a valid licence to do so, you will need to apply for a provisional licence and take a driving test in order to obtain a full licence. You’ll also need to understand the highway code.


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6. Car insurance

If you drive in the UK, it is a legal requirement to be insured. There are different types of insurance-based on the level of cover you want. There are many internet-based companies such as moneysupermarket and confused.com. You should check out as many different companies as possible before making your choice. Remember, it is illegal to drive in the UK without insurance.


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7. Buying a vehicle in the UK

Whilst buying secondhand cars is cheaper, you may not always get a good quality car and you could experience problems. You may wish to make a check through the DVLA’S Vehicle Check Service. The Vehicle Identity Check (VIC) has been introduced to help reduce car crime. It is intended to deter criminals from disguising stolen cars with the identity of written off ones (that is, vehicles which have been badly damaged in an accident and which have been written off by an insurance company). Note: If you buy a vehicle which is later identified as having been stolen, you may have no right in law to its ownership and you could lose both the vehicle and the money you paid for it. For more details, see the Directgov website or telephone 0300 123 9000.


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8. Road tax

You must ensure that road tax for your car is paid before you drive it. You can obtain a tax disc by completing an application form (V10) that is available from any Post Office and online via the DVLA website. You will need to take the completed form together with the following documents to a Post Office that issues tax discs:

• The Registration Document/Certificate.
• The certificate of insurance.
• (If the vehicle is over three years old) a current test certificate of roadworthiness MOT). The MOT test is available at most garages, but make sure that the garage is an approved MOT centre (it will display a sign which says this). The tax disc must be displayed in your car at all times. (Most people place them on the inside of the windscreen).


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9. Motoring organisations

There are a number of motoring organisations in the UK that offer a range of services to the motorist, including breakdown assistance and recovery, insurance and route planning. They tend to charge a membership fee and make additional charges for the particular services you may wish to buy. The most popular are the RAC, the Automobile Association and Green Flag.

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