UK Driving Rules England – License, Exchanging, Provisional License, Buying Insurance, Highway Code, DVLA
The UK has a comprehensive road network including more than 2,000 miles of motorway. These are generally toll-free except for small charges for using certain new stretches of motorway or particular bridges and tunnels.
Visitors from North America, continental Europe and other parts of the world will need to adapt to driving on the left. You may also need to familiarise yourself with features such as roundabouts, standard road markings and speed limits. Full details are in The Highway
Code, which you can buy from most UK bookshops or access online at:
The UK’s two major motoring organisations also offer wide-ranging help and advice on their websites:
In Great Britain, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) is the government agency responsible for maintaining registers of drivers and vehicles, and for collecting road taxes. Full information about driving in Great Britain is available on the DVLA website:
There are separate agencies for:
1. Northern Ireland:
2. Isle of Man:
3. Jersey: www.dvs.gov.je
4. Guernsey: www.gov.gg
The minimum age for driving in
Great Britain is:
1. 17 years for cars and motorcycles
2. 18 years for medium-sized vehicles
3. 21 years for large lorries and buses
Leaflet D100 gives further information. Leaflet INF38 explains the current rules affecting foreign driving licence holders who visit or come to live in Great Britain. You can obtain both leaflets at any Post Office branch or download them from the DVLA website.
WHAT IF YOU HOLD A LICENCE ISSUED IN ANOTHER COUNTRY?
Your licence may be valid in Great Britain, depending on the country in which it was issued and whether you qualify as a new resident or a visitor. In most cases, ordinary licence holders can drive in Great Britain either for a specified period or while their licence remains valid. They are
then usually able to exchange it for a Great Britain licence.
Vocational licences – to drive lorries, for example – are subject to different regulations. Holders may be able to continue driving in Great Britain, but may have to take a British driving test to obtain a Great Britain vocational licence.
The rules for driving licences differ for each of the following country groupings:
1. European Economic Area (EEA)
2. Northern Ireland
3. Gibraltar and designated countries, which are:
4. Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man
5. All other countries
You can find detailed explanations on the regulations for each country grouping on the DVLA website and in Leaflet INF38.
EXCHANGING YOUR LICENCE
If you wish to exchange your licence for a full British licence you need to send the following to the DVLA:
1. Completed application form D1
2. Your current licence
3. The appropriate fee This process can take up to 15 working days and involves the applicant sending appropriate identity documents, such as a passport, to the DVLA. You can get the necessary forms either from Post Office branches or from the DVLA.
APPLYING FOR A PROVISIONAL LICENCE
If you need to pass a Great Britain driving test in order to gain a full British licence you must first apply for a provisional licence by sending completed form D1, including the appropriate fee, to:
DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1AD.
VEHICLE LICENSING AND MOTOR INSURANCE
A vehicle licence (commonly known as the “tax disc”) shows that you have paid the necessary vehicle excise duty (VED) for your vehicle. It shows the registration mark (number) of the vehicle and the date up to which you have paid VED. You can find further information about
VED on the DVLA website.
Under the Road Traffic Acts, failure to have insurance for a licensed vehicle is a criminal offence. You must also have a valid insurance certificate covering you for “Third Party” liability as a minimum. Before driving any vehicle, make sure that it has this cover for your use or that your own insurance gives you adequate cover. There are three
types of car insurance cover available in the UK, namely “Comprehensive”, “Third Party, Fire
and Theft” and “Third Party Only”.