Tighter rules on driving licence exchange for foreign drivers introduced 11 January 2013

Under new rules introduced on 11 January 2013, foreign drivers must now prove they have passed an appropriate driving test before getting a British licence.

Previously some non EU drivers were able to exchange their licence without proving that the necessary standards to drive in GB had been met. Foreign drivers were able to exchange a licence with another  overseas country where DVLA have an exchange agreement, and then swap it for a GB one.

The change in law means requests to exchange driving licences from outside the EU will only be accepted if the licence holder can prove they passed a driving test in a country where the testing standards are comparable with those in Britain.

Drivers from the following countries are able to exchange their driving licences for a British licence: Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Cyprus, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.  

All driving licences issued by an EU state allow that driver to drive in any part of the EU so there is no need for them to exchange their licences.

DVLA also have reciprocal arrangements in place for the following countries:  Australia, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Falkland Islands, Faroe Islands, Hong Kong, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland and Zimbabwe.

Driving licences from these countries may be exchanged for a full British licence providing the driver took and passed their test in one of these countries or an EU/EEA member state.

Road Safety Minister Stephen Hammond said: “The UK’s roads are among the safest in the world, thanks in part to the rigorous standards demanded by our driving test. By closing this loophole we will not only make Britain’s roads even safer, but will help tackle fraud and level the playing field for British drivers who spend time and money learning to drive at the standard required in the UK.

“It is obvious to everyone that drivers who have not been through a rigorous driving test will not be as safe as those who have. This change in the law will mean we can be sure that any foreign drivers exchanging their licence here have already passed a test of a similar standard to ours.”

See the DVLA web site for further information

Posted on: 16.01.2013

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