Driving in the UK on your existing licence
Country of issue
Can you drive in the UK?
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, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein
You can drive in the UK for as long as your EU licence remains valid.
Alternatively, you can apply at any time to exchange your EU licence for a UK driving licence on a like-for-like basis, without having to undertake the UK driving test.
Andorra, Australia, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Falkland Islands, Faroe Islands, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland and Zimbabwe
You can drive any category of vehicle shown on your licence for up to 12 months from the date you last entered the UK.
You need to exchange your licence after 12 months - you have 5 years since you became resident to do this.
Rest of the World
You can drive any category of vehicle shown on your licence for up to 12 months from the date you last entered the UK. However, after this time you must apply for a UK licence and pass the UK driving test.
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’.
Further information on eligibility for UK and EU driving licenses can be found in the Driver and Vehicle Licence Agency (DVLA) leaflet: Driving in Great Britain as a visitor or new resident.
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. 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. See the section on Getting Round in the University’s International staff webpages.
If you drive in the UK, it is a legal requirement to obtain car insurance. It is advisable to insure against damage to your own vehicle as well. There are hundreds of different companies offering car insurance, as well as many price comparison websites which help you identify the cheapest provider.
You can get reduced insurance rates if you get a letter from the car insurance company you use in your home country (not the agent or broker) to state the number of claim-free years you have had. University employees can also access cashback on car insurance through the CAMbens Discounts scheme.
You must ensure that road tax for your car is paid before you drive it. You can apply for a tax disc online via the DVLA website. When applying online for a tax disc, the website will electronically check the following:
- That the vehicle has valid insurance
- If the vehicle is over three years old, it has a valid MOT certificate (all cars over three years old must legally have a yearly check known as an MOT). A full range of garages in Cambridgeshire which are licensed to provide an MOT can be found here.
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 (AA) and Green Flag.
A number of car leasing companies operate in the UK and University employees are entitled to cashback from many of the major providers through the CAMbens Discounts scheme.
In addition, the University offers employees access to the following:
CAMbens Cars - A salary exchange scheme that enables employees to lease fuel-efficient University-provided vehicles.
- Zipcars - A self-service pay-as-you-go cars scheme, with University employees being eligible for a discounted joining fee. Cars can be bought through car dealerships, local garages or through private sales. If you are buying a used car, it is recommended that you use a vehicle check service, available from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), to ensure that you avoid buying a vehicle which has been stolen, seriously damaged in an accident or has outstanding loans against it. The UK Gov.uk webpages provides advice and guidance on buying a used car.
- Some local car garages will sell cars to overseas staff on short contracts and guarantee to buy the vehicles back when they leave:
Further information from Gov.uk webpages
- Advice on buying and selling a vehicle – Provides further guidance on how you can get your car registered, tax your car and obtain an MOT test certificate.
- Child car seats – Explains the rules on car seats for babies and children
- The Highway Code - sets out the rules and regulations which apply to road users, including drivers.