Home > Ask Our Experts > How Do I Change My Licence From a US to UK One?

How Do I Change My Licence From a US to UK One?

By: Mary Williams BA (hons) - Updated: 9 Apr 2021 | comments*Discuss
Uk Driving Licence Foreign Driving

Q.I'm a new UK resident who recently moved from the US. I have valid US driver's license, and have been driving there for 20 years. I currently drive in the UK on that US license, and can do for another 8 months. After that time, I understand that I will have to get a UK license. As an experienced driver with a clean record, what tests will I have to take, and what prep should I do beforehand?

(Ms Gina Longo, 11 September 2008)


As a UK resident, you can exchange your foreign driving licence for a UK driving licence if it was issued by one of the following : Northern Ireland, Guernsey, Jersey, the Isle of Man, Gibraltar, Australia, Barbados, the British Virgin Isles, Canada, the Falkland Islands, the Faroe Islands, Hong Kong, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland, Zimbabwe.

If your driving licence was issued in any other country, you can only use your foreign licence for twelve months after arriving in the UK. Within this time frame, you must apply for a provisional driving licence (you can get a D1 application form for some Post Office branches), and pass practical and theory tests to get a UK driving licence and continue driving. If you allow twelve months to pass without passing these tests, you are subject to the same conditions as learner drivers when you apply for your provisional licence, and will be required to display L-plates. This is not the case if you pass both the practical and theory tests within the time frame.

The Theory Test

The theory test is designed to test your understanding of the Highway Code and road safety. These are multiple choice questions on topics such as attitude, road signs, road markings and driving while under the effects of alcohol, drugs or medication. It is split into two basic parts, with one part testing your ability to spot potential hazards in video clips, while the other part tests your knowledge of road safety. You need to have your provisional licence before you can take your theory test, and the theory test needs to be passed before you can pass your practical test. You need to pay £31 for the theory test.

The Practical Test

The practical test will assess your ability to control a car on the roads, and you will usually be required to demonstrate skills such as moving off, indicating, changing gears, turning in the road, parking, reversing, reversing around corners, driving at roundabouts, T-junctions, box junctions and pedestrian crossings, parallel parking, bay parking and hill starts . You may be tested on your ability to perform an emergency stop or reverse parking, but these are not always part of the test. You must take the test in manual car to recieved a full UK driving licence.

In some cases, you may able to exchange a foreign driving licence for a UK driving licence even if it was not issued in the European Economic Area or one of the designated countries. Contact the DVLA to assess the possibility, or you can get a D100 booklet from selected Post Office branches, which outlines the rules on exchanging licences.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
I passed my driving test in US 2001. I moved to Hong Kong and obtained a Hong Kong driving license since 2002 up to 2022 (to be expired). Under this situation, can I transfer to UK driving license without any test required.
Janice - 9-Apr-21 @ 2:53 PM
Sign this petition to get the policy changed due to testing centers being shutdown because of COVID. https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/567875
Texasinuk - 13-Jan-21 @ 12:47 PM
I moved from the US and my US drivers license will expire in December 2020. I have my provisional license, but my theory test which was originally booked for this week has just been rescheduled by DVLA to December 11 due to the COVID lockdown. This means I will not receive my full UK license until well after the new year due to the backups on driving test scheduling. My question is the UK government extending out of country license periods for expats like myself? I live in a rural location where I need to drive to the grocery store and take my kids to school. Not driving is not an option for me and the scheduling issues have been out of my hands.
bennett - 5-Nov-20 @ 10:47 AM
My wife is in the same position, they did not extend international drivers, its an absolutely joke. You will have to stop driving even though you can't get a test. It's the British Government being completely unhelpful. My wife now cant drive herself to work or anywhere legally now.
lee90m - 26-Aug-20 @ 3:32 PM
I have lived in the UK for just over a year and been driving on my foreign license.I have passed the theory test but am unable to schedule a practical test for the UK license due to the COVID pandemic.my 12 months has now expired.Does the 7 month extension for driver's license also apply to foreign licenses, or am I now not allowed to drive in the UK with my USA license?
USAExpat - 11-Aug-20 @ 9:42 AM
I am a UK citizen living in the US as a green card holder. I have a US and a UK drivers license. My UK license is due to expire this year, I realize I can't renew this while living outside the UK. I will be returning to live in the UK next year. How do I renew my UK license once I am back living in the UK? Polly
Polly - 27-Jul-20 @ 6:53 PM
I want to Transfer my driving licence in uk
Saga - 11-Jul-20 @ 1:17 PM
Why does the test have to be in a manual when I want to buy an automatic?
mags - 28-May-20 @ 9:34 AM
I have a usa drivinglicenceand want to buy a car can I get insuranceon a car
Jo - 27-Mar-20 @ 7:56 AM
I have a USA drivers license and have been a UK Resident for 6 months.If I apply for a provisional drivers license in order to take the theory test,am I still allowed to drive alone in my car without a licensed driver with me since my USA drivers license is still valid until 12 months from my arrival in the UK?
Jiji - 13-Jan-20 @ 8:26 AM
I had a full Uk licence that expired whilst I was a resident in Spain. As I had no permanent address in the UK at the time I had to change it for a Spanish licence. I am about to return to the UKand be a resident in a permanent address can I exchange my Spanish licencefor a U.K. one? My age is 76. Thank you?
Mapitjon - 7-Jul-17 @ 7:35 AM
@Adil. Follow the steps advised in the article above.
YourDrivingLicence - 5-Dec-14 @ 11:47 AM
Hi Is it possible to change my driving licence from US to UKas I have been driving for the past 22 years? Thank you
Adil - 3-Dec-14 @ 10:37 PM
Ive had a provisionall driving/moped license since 1990,so do i need to do a cbt or not.because the only test you had to do back then was if you wanted to ride sumthing bigger than a 125cc.thnkycAou. :-).
carp. - 7-May-13 @ 12:26 AM
i want to change my driving licence from usa to uk
barosanu - 27-Oct-12 @ 3:39 PM
france and germany have an exchange with certain states eg fl tx go to germany/france get their licence and change it to uk licence
A - 19-Sep-12 @ 12:22 AM
I am an insurance agent in the United States.One of your citizen's owns a business here and is covered by our auto policy.He only has an England driver's license. MY underwriter requires some type of drivers history to continue to give him insurance coverage.How do I obtain a drivers history report or a motor vehicle report based on an England driver's license?
Cassie - 13-Sep-12 @ 7:51 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments