London is a magical, fascinating place. It is one of the best cities in the world to live in.
The traffic though…
The fact that everyone drives in the “wrong direction” from the perspective of practically every living soul on the globe, the narrow streets that were designed by the Romans for horses and carriages, and the number of people living here who need to commute add an uncomfortable level of getting used to when it comes to driving in the capital.
Alas, there’s no going around it. If you have to drive, you have to drive, right? And for that, you’ll need your driver’s license.
Do I need to exchange my license?
The odds are that you’ve already passed your driver’s test with flying colors in your home country. Why go through it again, when you can simply exchange your license? It still won’t be a walk in the park but hey, everything is better than starting from zero.
So what are the rules for exchanging your license in the UK?
- Australia, New Zealand, and Canada: If you have a driver’s license from any of these countries you are free to drive in Great Britain on your full for up to 12 months from the day you have officially become a resident. You’ll need to exchange your license after that period of time, and you will have 5 years to do so.
- America: The rules are pretty similar here as you too will get a period of 12 months to drive on your full, with the exception that you will actually need to pass a theory and a practical test after your “trial year”.
- European Union: If you are not a resident of Great Britain than you can freely drive across Great Britain with your license until you are 70. That said, if your status changes and you’ll choose to become a resident here, then you will have 3 years worth of driving left. If you will choose to exchange your EU license for a UK license, you will only have 12 months.
- Other countries: It’s hard to give precise requirements for exchanging a license for residents from other countries, but Gov.uk has a handy little tool designed just for that.
How do I exchange my license?
As you can see, there is no rush to exchanging your existing license in the UK. You can easily settle in, get used to the local roads and traffic, and then take the exams (if need be). More on the matter, you legally have a period of 5 years on your hands. You won’t be able to drive for more than one without breaking the law though.
So, how does one exchange a non-UK license?
- Get in contact with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency.
- Order a D1 form (or any other DVLA forms you might need, like a D2 for driving a lorry, etc.) from them.
- Fill it in, and send it back along with any other documents you might need like a passport for identification, current license, and the fee of 43 quid.
- Wait for 3 weeks or so and you will get you shiny new license mailed to you.
Pro tip: don’t plan anything that might require your passport like an abroad trip for the time being.
A few words of advice
Getting a license is one thing, gaining the skills you will need to drive in the UK is another. We suggest that you practice for a bit in a slow, peaceful area before moving on into the big city because the wheel on the right side definitely takes some getting used to.
Oh, an in case you need any other help with settling in, you know who to call, wink-wink, nudge-nudge;)