International driving laws can be confusing. Foreign drivers technically can drive in Britain with a non-UK license, but this depends on a number of facts. Make sure to read this quick guide to ensure that you’re not caught out!
Those with a non-UK license may still be allowed to drive in the UK, but getting car insurance could be a different matter. With a non-UK license, the rules are a little confusing. For car insurance seekers, it’s even more complicated.
We at Insurfolio therefore advise you to take the time to look through our guide regarding foreign licenses and car insurance… and get up to speed with the rules!
First Things First – What about driving in the UK with my foreign license?
Drivers with full, valid licenses that have been issued in their own country are allowed to drive in the UK for at least a year. After this, you either need to exchange your current driver’s license for a UK one, or take a UK driving test. This is up to you to sort out.
Rules and regulations can vary depending on the license.
Drivers with licenses from within the EU (European Union) or the EEC (European Economic Community) have the right to use it until expiration. This means not having to retake the test, or exchange it for a UK version. Generally speaking, licenses expire at the age of 70. In the UK, it will expire 3 years after you become a resident (always after the longest period of time).
Drivers with EU licenses which were originally non-EU ones are allowed to drive in the UK for a year. To carry on driving, you’ll have to take the UK driving test.
International licenses (The exchangeable kind):
With exchangeable international driving licenses, you’re allowed to drive in the UK for up to a year. Countries included are:
- The Isle of Man
In addition, licenses used in the following countries are also permitted for a year:
- British Virgin Islands
- The Falkland Islands
- The Faroe Islands
- Hong Kong
- New Zealand
- Republic of Korea
- South Africa
Those who exchanged their EU license for a British one can also drive in the UK for up to a year. Those who wish to carry on must pass a UK driving test.
International license (Non-exchangeable):
Even licenses that weren’t issued in EU/EEC countries are valid for drivers for up to a year. You’ll need to pass the UK driving test after the first year. Beforehand, you must need to apply for a provisional license. Thankfully, you don’t have to take driving lessons (however, brushing up is a good idea and can be great for your car insurance premiums). Most car and vehicle insurance providers appreciate this.
The International Driving Permit
While international driving permits aren’t completely necessary, they’re still a good idea if your license isn’t printed in English. It’s also useful for those applying for car insurance in the UK. In addition, most car insurance providers will highly appreciate it.
Insurance for vehicles and cars is a legal requirement in the United Kingdom. The same holds true for car insurance even if you’re only here for a short time. Insurance for hire cars isn’t necessary, of course: usually, this is included in the rental costs. Regarding car insurance, you should consider the different levels (which may or may not be different depending on your country of origin):
- Legal minimum: The legal minimum is what is known as third-party car insurance. The purpose of this cover is to pay out for the damage you do to other vehicles in the case of an accident. The same can be said for injuries you cause to people.
- With levels of car insurance, you can also avail of third party, fire and theft: this kind of insurance protects your car and any third parties your damage/injure.
- The best (but also the most expensive) is comprehensive car insurance: this covers you for third party, fire and theft and pays out compensation to cover you and your car.
Drivers bringing their own vehicles into the country and who have an existing car insurance policy should be covered in the UK for third parties. Evidence of car insurance cover may be asked of you. For this purpose, your insurer will give you a “green card” document.
Cars bought in the country need UK insurance. Those who borrow a friend’s car in the country need to add their name to the insurance. Of course, beware that their car insurance premium could increase because of this.
The Costs of insurance for car and vehicle drivers with international licenses
Costs for foreign drivers taking out car insurance are usually high. This is regardless of the driving experience you have in your own country. Drivers with foreign licenses will experience high car insurance costs. Foreign drivers are usually considered a higher risk, since they’re less experienced on British roads.
Of course, you can save money on car insurance premiums in the UK – even if you’re from abroad. Shopping around with specialist insurers can help. Many providers will welcome those with non-UK licenses. Some can even transfer your no-claims bonus.