Published On: Wed, Aug 20th, 2014

Moving To The UK? Learn How To Legally Drive On British Roads

Are you planning to emigrate to the United Kingdom soon? If so, you will doubtless be thinking about driving on British roads at some point. If you have never driven in the UK before, it can be something of a shock to many people.


Each country has their own driving laws. It can take some getting used to if you’re moving from Europe or the United States, for instance. You might only be thinking about your move to the UK. But it’s important that you consider how you will drive in Great Britain after you’ve arrived.

In today’s blog post, you will find out how to get on the road in the United Kingdom. Here is what you need to know:

Vehicles drive on the left

People in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland drive on the left-hand side of the road. The UK is one of only few nations around the world that do this.

If you are moving to the UK from Australia, Japan, Hong Kong or South Africa, you won’t have to worry about this fact for obvious reasons.

Life would be easy if all nations drove on the same side of the road, but I’m afraid that will never be the case!

Getting a driving license

To drive on British roads without breaking the law, one of the key requirements is to have a valid driving license. You can get a UK driving license from the DVLA, the government agency that deals with driver and vehicle licensing.

How you can get a UK driving licence will depend on your circumstances.

If you have a driving licence issued from a country within the EEA (European Economic Area), you can use it in the UK. But if it got issued outside of the EEA, the following rules apply:

  • You can use your driving licence for 12 months from the date you entered the UK;
  • For those moving from certain Commonwealth countries, you can exchange it for a UK driving licence.

Moving from the United States?

There are different rules for people moving from the USA and non-Commonwealth and EEA countries.

You have to apply for a provisional driving licence. To get a full driving licence, you will need to pass a theory test and a practical test. The former is a computer-based test, and it comprises of two parts: the theory test and a hazard perception test.

A driving examiner will test your skills in the practical test. You must pass all those tests before the DVLA will issue you with a full driving licence.

Getting on the road

Once you have a full UK driving licence, you will need to buy a roadworthy car to use on public roads. The car must have a valid MOT certificate (roadworthiness test), insurance and tax.

The MOT test is an annual test on cars that are more than three years old. There are three levels of insurance you can opt for. Third party being the cheapest and comprehensive being the most expensive.

The tax you pay will depend on the car you drive, its engine size (if built before 2001), and its engine emissions (cars built after 2001).

Good luck with your move to the UK!