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Driver Licensing

Introduction
The pages within this section concern all aspects of Driver Licensing in the UK including taking a driving test for pcv and lgv drivers.
With the opening of borders and the growth of the European Union, many companies throughout Europe employ drivers from other member states. This page is the introduction of the legislation that governs Non-EC licenses, EC Licences (Community licence or EEA Licence), Exchange Licences and age requirements.

Non - EC Licences
Article 2 Motor Vehicles (International Circulation) Order 1975
Regulation 80 Motor Vehicles (Driving Licences) Regulations 1999

A full and valid permit or licence of any non-EC or non-EAA foreign country is valid for:

to drive a motor vehicle of any class (UK registered or Foreign) which his permit or licence authorises him to drive except note 1 a medium-sized goods vehicle, a large goods vehicle, a privately-operated passenger vehicle or a passenger-carrying vehicle.

OR

to drive a medium-sized goods vehicle, a large goods vehicle, a privately-operated passenger vehicle or a passenger-carrying vehicle brought temporarily into Great Britain which his permit or licence authorises him to drive.

Non-EC licence holders [except those from The Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey - see note 1 may not drive UK registered goods vehicles which exceed 3.5 tonnes or passenger vehicles which exceed 9 passenger seats (from 10/08/2004).

Note 1 Residents of The Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey may drive any class of vehicle including UK registered goods or passenger vehicles which their licence permits.

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Visiting forces personnel may use expired licences and may use their permit without limit of time.

A person who becomes resident may, after 6 months residence:

but may continue to use his full foreign licence for the first 12 months. Therefore, during the first 12 months L-plates would not have to be displayed nor other conditions adhered to but after 12 months a UK licence must be held, if this is provisional then all conditions should be complied with.

EC Licences (Community licence or EEA Licence)
Full EC (or EEA) licence holders can now continue to use their licence after becoming resident and can supervise others subject to the 3 year / over 21 years age qualified driver conditions are met.

An EC licence holder can also apply to be an ADI (approved driving instructor) providing a British counterpart is held.

Non-Residents (Section 99A(1) Road Traffic Act 1988 )
An EC or EEA licence valid in the member state of issue is valid in this country for a motor vehicle of any class (UK or Foreign registered ) including a medium or large goods vehicle or passenger carrying vehicle which his permit or licence authorises him to drive without time limitation. An EC licence issued in another EC or EAA country in exchange for a non-EEA licence is valid for driving in GB for 12 months only.

UK Residents
Those who take up residence in Great Britain may continue to use their ordinary EC licence which remains valid until their 70th birthday or, if aged 67 or above, 3 years after becoming resident. An EC licence issued in another EC or EAA country in exchange for a non-EEA licence is valid for driving in GB for 12 months only. See Register of Community Licence holders. If a holder wants to drive other classes of vehicle as a provisional licence holder they can send their licence to DVLA for a counterpart which will then give the same provisional entitlements as a UK licence.

Vocational licence holders who take up residence in Great Britain must by law register their details with DVLA.

Vocational, LGV and PCV, licences remain valid until:

Register of Community Licence holders
Holders of Community licences with vocational entitlement who live in Great Britain must by law register their details with DVLA. Drivers of small vehicles may register also, if they wish.

To register, drivers should notify DVLA of their name, address and driving entitlement. Drivers who register will receive their licence back together with a UK counterpart document. This would enable them to take advantage of the fixed penalty system for road traffic offences instead of having to go to court.

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List of EC and EEA Countries.

EC countries
Austria
Belgium
Bulgaria
Cyprus
Czech Republic
Denmark
Estonia
Finland
France
Germany
Greece
Hungary
Ireland
Italy
Latvia
Lithuania
Luxembourg
Malta
Netherlands
Poland
Portugal
Romania
Slovakia
Slovenia
Spain
Sweden
UK
European Economic Area (EEA)
All the EC Countries
Iceland
Liechtenstein
Norway

Key Information
Key Information
Reminder: Switzerland is not a member of the European Union.

Resident's EC licences can be endorsed by British courts and a counterpart will be issued. Holders are subject to the same medical and, for vocational licences, conduct requirements as a UK licence holder.

Foreign licence holders, even if they are resident, will not be able to take advantage of endorsable fixed penalty notices unless a UK counterpart or an exchange licence is held and any such notices issued will normally be referred to the courts.

Exchange Licenses
If you are a visitor or resident in Great Britain (GB) and still have a driving licence issued in the country you have come from, there are certain conditions that affect how long you can drive, and what you can drive in GB.

Northern Ireland (NI)
You can exchange a full NI driving licence for a full GB licence or you can use your licence here until it runs out. When your licence expires you may apply for a GB licence. A NI ordinary licence may be exchanged provided it was issued on or after 1 January 1976.

A vocational licence may be exchanged if issued on or after 1 April 1986. You may take a driving test in GB using your NI provisional or full licence if this gives the appropriate entitlement. The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) cannot register an address in England, Scotland or Wales on to a NI licence.

Isle of Man, Jersey, Guernsey
If you are a visitor in GB and provided your full ordinary licence remains valid, you can drive any category of vehicle shown on your licence for 12 months. If you are the holder of a vocational licence, you can drive British registered, or vehicles registered outside GB that you have driven into the country, for a period up to 12 months.

If you are resident in GB and the holder of an ordinary driving licence, you may drive for up to 12 months from the time you became resident. To continue driving after that time your licence must be exchanged for the British equivalent. A licence from Jersey, Guernsey or the Isle of Man can be exchanged for a GB one provided it has been issued since 1 April 1991. If you are the holder of a vocational licence, you may drive for 12 months and may exchange your vocational entitlement for the British equivalent.

Gibraltar and Designated Countries
GB has reciprocal exchange agreements with Gibraltar and 15 designated countries.

The designated countries are:
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.

If you are a visitor in GB, and hold full ordinary entitlement, you can drive any category of vehicle, up to 3.5 tonnes and with up to eight passenger seats, shown on your licence for up to 12 months from the date you last entered GB, whether or not you brought the vehicle into GB. If you also hold full entitlement to drive large lorries or buses you are only allowed to drive large vehicles registered outside the GB that you have driven into the country.

If you are a resident in GB and provided your full licence remains valid, you can drive small vehicles for 12 months from the time you became resident. To ensure continuous driving entitlement, you must exchange your licence for a GB one before the 12 months end.

If you do not do this you must stop driving although you may apply to exchange your licence at any time within five years of becoming resident.

*Motorcycle entitlement from the Republic of Korea and Faroe Islands is not exchangeable.

Vocational designated licence holders
New residents may not drive medium or large vehicles or passenger carrying vehicles until they have passed the relevant GB driving test. Gibraltar vocational licence holders can drive for 12 months, and can exchange a valid vocational licence within five years of date of residency.

Other Exchanges
An EC licence issued in another EC or EAA country in exchange for a non-EEA licence from:

International Driving Permits
International Driving Permits are not exchangeable.

Foreign Country Codes
The following table of codes appear in the Information Codes section of driving licences which have been exchanged.

Australia AUS
Austria A
Barbados BDS
Belgium B
British Virgin Islands VGB
Canada CDN
Cyprus CY
Denmark DK
Estonia EST
Falkland Islands FK
Finland FIN
France F
Germany D
Gibraltar GBZ
Greece GR
Guernsey GBG
Hong Kong HK
Iceland IS
Ireland IRL
Isle of Man GBM
Italy I
Japan J
Jersey GBJ
Latvia LV
Liechtenstein FL
Lithuania LT
Luxembourg L
Malta M
Monaco MC
Netherlands NL
New Zealand NZ
Norway N
Poland PL
Portugal P
Republic of Korea ROK
Singapore SGP
Slovakia SK
Slovenia SLO
South Africa ZA
Spain E
Sweden S
Switzerland CH
Zimbabwe ZW
 

Age Requirements
Article 2(4) Motor Vehicles (International Circulation) Order 1975. The minimum age requirements in this country apply to drivers of all vehicles except:

when the minimum age requirement of 21 may be reduced to 18 years providing the holder is a non-resident and holds a suitable certificate of competence.

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