How to Get an International Driver’s License in the UK

How to Get an International Driver's License in the UK

Disclaimer: This article may link to products and services from one or more of ExpatDen’s partners. We may receive compensation when you click on those links. Although this may influence how they appear in this article, we try our best to ensure that our readers get access to the best possible products and services in their situations.

If you’re a United Kingdom citizen traveling abroad or a visitor to the U.K. looking to drive in the country legally, you need to apply for an international driver’s license.

An international driver’s license lets you legally drive in many countries throughout the world without having to worry about apply for a driver’s license in that country.

That said, this guide on getting an international driver’s license in the U.K. shows you how to apply for the license, and which licenses you can legally drive with in the country.

Good to Know

An international driver’s license is often referred to as an International Driving Permit (IDP). The United Nations recognizes it as an official document that lets you drive in 174 countries.

Which License Can You Drive with in the U.K.?

Want to be 100 percent sure about whether you can drive in the U.K. on your license? The U.K. government’s short online questionnaire helps you answer that question.

However, below is a general guideline for you to follow. 

European Union Driver’s License

Despite the U.K. leaving the European Union (EU) in 2020, EU driver’s license holders can still drive in the U.K. without an international driver’s license as long as they have a valid license.

If you plan on staying in the U.K. after your EU license expires, however, you must apply for a U.K. driver’s license.

Alternatively, each country in the EU has their own rules about U.K. driver’s license holders driving in their respective country. So, be sure to check with that country’s government driving organization before you visit.

International Driver’s License

If you have a valid international driver’s license and your home country driving license, you can drive anywhere in the U.K. for up to months.

However, if you plan on staying in the U.K. longer than one year, you must apply for a provisional driver’s license.

U.K. Provisional Driver’s License

A U.K. provisional driver’s license is like a permit that lets you drive in the U.K. with a resident who has a clean record and who has been driving in the country for at least three years.

You get the provisional license as part of the process of applying for a U.K. driver’s license.

Note that you must apply for a provisional license before your 12 months in the U.K. is up, whether that time was spent driving on your home country’s license or an international driver’s license.

Can You Use Your Home Country License to Drive in the UK?

If you have a valid driver’s license from your home country, you will most likely be able to drive in the U.K. for up to 12 months.

However, the same rule applies as with international driver’s licenses – after 12 months you’ll need to apply for a U.K. license.

This is, unless, you’re from one of the designated countries whose residents can simply swap their original license. If you come from one of the countries below, this means you can enjoy the easy trade-off without having to apply for a U.K. license.

  • Andorra
  • Australia
  • Barbados
  • British Virgin Islands
  • Canada
  • Falkland Islands
  • Faroe Islands
  • Hong Kong
  • Japan
  • Monaco
  • New Zealand
  • Singapore
  • South Africa
  • South Korea
  • Zimbabwe

Residents of all other countries have to take all of the U.K.’s theoretical and practical driving license tests to get a valid license in the country.

Residents of Switzerland, however, have it easier than any one. If you have a valid Swiss driver’s license, you can apply for a U.K. license anytime up to five years after living in the country.

Advertisement

Moreover, all classes of licenses can be carried over to the U.K., including those for buses and tractor trailers. 

Applying for an International Driver’s License

The steps you need to take to apply for an international driver’s license in the U.K. are easy and can be done in person or online.

Requirements

Before you apply for your international license, make sure you meet these requirements.

  • you live in Great Britain or Norther Ireland
  • you’re at least years old
  • you have a U.K. driver’s license

In Person

Arrive at any Post Office in the country with your valid U.K. driver’s license (which should also prove that you’re at least 18 years old). Then, you can apply for the international driver’s license and pay the GBP5.50 fee.

Online

Visit the International Driver’s Association’s website and apply online. The website walks you through the process step-by-step. 

Applying Outside of the Country

If you’re a U.K. citizen living abroad and want to apply for an international driver’s license, you can easily do so as long as you have your valid U.K. license with you.

Each country has its own requirements, but they are generally the same and include a form of photo ID (your license), two passport-size photos, and the application fee.

How Long Does it Take to Get Your International Driver’s License?

Whether you apply in person or online, you get your international driver’s license in a matter of minutes.

How Long is Your UK International Driver’s License Valid For?

Unlike most other countries, your U.K. international driver’s license can be valid for more than 12 months.

For example, if you have a 1926 or 1949 classification, it’s valid for 12 months. However, if you have a 1968 classification, it’s valid for three years.

Now, on to You

Applying for an international driver’s license in the U.K. is not difficult if you meet the requirements. After that, you can drive legally in over 150 countries around the world.

John Wolcott is the global editor for ExpatDen. He's a New Jersey native who now lives in Bangkok with his wife and two daughters.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.