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Driving After Brexit: EU Citizens Living in the UK

EU flag with one of the 12 stars replaced with a PassMeFast checkmark

The Brexit transition period ended at the start of 2021, and new rules are here for British and EU citizens alike. Here in our Driving After Brexit series, we’re examining what the political changes will mean for everyday motorists. In this article, we’ll cover the impact on EU citizens living in the UK.


What happens to drivers with a licence from another EU country?

First up, we’re going to concentrate on those who already have a car or motorcycle licence from another EU or EEA country. This group of motorists are able to drive on their existing licence until the age of 70. Those who become a resident aged 68 or over, meanwhile, can drive for three years. Depending on your medical situation, you may need to pass additional tests to continue driving after this age.

Given the current harmonisation of rules, it’s logical to wonder whether this state of affairs is continuing after Brexit. Fortunately, we have good news on this front. At present, the government is planning no change to the current acceptance of EU and EEA driving licences.

Similarly, drivers who wish to exchange their EU or EEA licence for a British one will be able to do so as is currently possible. This involves ordering form D1 from the DVLA and paying a fee of £43. For most drivers, however, this won’t be necessary. It is only compulsory to exchange your licence when you hit the age of 70, or after three years if over 68. Please note, however, that if you choose to apply for a UK licence, you would need to give up your current EU licence.

So, when it comes to cars and motorbikes, things are straightforward. Things can get more tricky, however, when it comes to other types of vehicle…


What about lorry, bus and minibus licences?

Wheels of two lorries
Image source: Tama66 (via Pixabay)

Next, we’ll examine the situation when it comes to lorry, bus and minibus licences, or ‘vocational licences’. We’ll start with the good news: as with car and motorcycle licences, Brexit hasn’t resulted in any major changes here. However, the existing rules are more complex than those pertaining to smaller vehicles. So, buckle up!

Lorry licence rules differ by age. Those under 45 will be able to drive until they hit the age of 45, or for 5 years after becoming a UK resident—whichever is longer. After this point, they must then exchange their licence by sending form D2 to the DVLA.

If you’re between 45 and 65, you can drive on your licence until you’re 66, or for 5 years after becoming a UK resident—whichever is shorter. Then, you’ll need to exchange your licence. Finally, if you’re 66 or over, you’ll need to exchange their licence immediately. If you’re 45 or over, you’ll need to get your doctor to fill out form D4 as proof that you’re medically fit to drive. You must then send this to the DVLA together with form D2.


What do I need to do if I don’t already have a driving licence?

DVSA entrance sign
Photo © David Hillas (cc-by-sa/2.0)

If you don’t already have a licence, then the answer is simple: get one! These are the steps you’ll need to follow:

  • Firstly, you’ll need to be a UK resident. This means you need to have been living in the country for at least 185 days within the past year.
  • Next, you must apply for a provisional licence. When applying, you’ll need to send an identity document to the DVLA unless you have a UK biometric passport. Visit the DVLA to apply online.
  • After your licence arrives, you can begin taking driving lessons here in the UK. Be sure to check out PassMeFast’s range of courses to find the option that’s right for you!
  • You must pass two tests in order to get your licence. The first is a theory test, an exam which you can take at a local test centre. Prepare for this using our revision resources.
  • The final hurdle is the practical test. This will include an eyesight check, questions on vehicle maintenance and safety, general driving, manoeuvres and more. For full details, read our guide to what happens during a driving test. All you need to do now is pass, and…
  • Congratulations! You now have your very own UK driving licence! Now all that’s left to do is try out some of the country’s top road trips!

FAQs

① Which countries count as EU/EEA?

This includes the 27 EU member states plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. Different rules apply to other European countries:

  • Licence holders from designated countries can exchange their licences within 5 years of becoming resident without taking further tests. This group of countries includes Andorra, the Faroe Islands, Gibraltar, Monaco and Switzerland, as well as several non-European countries. For more information, visit our guide to which countries’ licences are valid in the UK, or use the DVSA’s online tool.
  • If you hold a licence from Jersey, Guernsey or the Isle of Man, you must exchange your licence to drive in the UK. You will not, however, need to sit any tests.
  • If you are from a European country which is neither EU/EEA nor a designated country, you can drive on your existing licence for 12 months. After this point, you will need to apply for a provisional licence and take a theory and practical test in the UK in order to continue driving. Visit our prices page for information on booking a refresher course.

② Could the rules change in the future?

The government has committed to accepting all EU and EEA licences indefinitely, regardless of any withdrawal agreement. While it is possible that a future government could change these rules, this looks highly unlikely at present.

③ Will I need an International Driving Permit?

Drivers will not need an IDP to continue driving in the UK after Brexit. All you will need to carry is your EU/EEA driving licence. You must, however, ensure that you have suitable insurance cover in the UK. For advice, visit our article covering what to check for when you’re buying car insurance.

④ I passed my test outside of the EU/EEA, then exchanged my licence for an EU/EEA one. What rules apply to me?

The exact rules that apply to you will vary depending on the country in which you passed your test. If you passed your test in one of the designated countries, you should be able to exchange your licence for a UK one without further tests. Those who passed in another country, however, will likely need to apply for a UK provisional licence and pass both theory and practical tests after 12 months.

⑤ I’m planning on moving to the UK in the coming months. What rules will apply to me?

The rules set forth in this article apply equally to those who are currently resident in the UK and those who become UK residents in the future.

⑥ If I apply for a UK licence, can I keep my EU licence?

Unfortunately, this isn’t possible. If you apply for a UK licence, you would be expected to give up any other licence you hold.


For more information, check out our other articles, covering the rights of UK citizens living in the EU and EU citizens visiting the UK.

By Andy Boardman

Andy has been part of the PassMeFast Blog team from the very beginning. He'll provide you with plenty of useful motoring advice, helping you to get the most out of every trip. When he's not writing here, you're most likely to find Andy on the way to his next destination.

20 Comments

  1. Reply

    Sonja

    Before Brexit, EU citizens had to give up their EU driving license if applying for a UK license – so it was impossible to keep both. It would be great if you could update the article to include information about whether this is still the case, or will EU citizens be allowed to keep their EU license after applying for a UK license after Brexit.

    P.S. I just called the DVLA and they say that this is not going to change, i.e. in the future if one wants to get a UK driving licence, one would still need to give up any other driving licences from any other country, as it’s not possible to have a driving licence from several countries. However, this information is impossible to find on the internet, so it would be a great favour if you could add it into your article. Many thanks.

    1. Reply

      Andy Boardman

      Hi Sonja,

      Thanks for sharing this information – it’s really good to know. We’ll update the article in due course.

      Andy

  2. Reply

    Anton

    Hello Andy!

    What about over 45 Years&less than 60 years Old EU Citizens, they have EU car driver licence/1/ and would like exchange their EU licence/Italian in my case/ with UK Driver Licence/2/

    2.1. Is necessary medical Examen for Car Drivers Licence-type B?

    2.1. I saw points of views in Internet, that who want change EEA Car Driver Licence/In Italy this is B type of licence/ and is aged between 45-70 years, haven, t need medical Examen.

    3.What about, please 185 days residency requirement in UK?
    4. When exchanged/EU to UK/ issued UK Car Driver Licence would be valid until age of 70 years?..

    I arrived in UK in October 2020 and obtained 5 Years Pre Settled Status, valid until 2025

    4.When Can Apply to Exchange My Italian Driver Licence-in April 2021 or in June 2021/6 Months must to be within 1 year..

    UK laws for foreigners are often unclear.

    Sorry to tell it!

    Tnank you in advance for any help!

    Best Regards

    Abton

    1. Reply

      Andy Boardman

      Hi Anton,

      You can carry on driving in the UK using your Italian licence until you’re 70 years old. After this point, you need to exchange it for a British one. Before then, you can exchange if you want to, but there’s no requirement to do so.

      There’s no need to take a medical exam to exchange your licence. However, if you have certain medical conditions, you need to inform the DVLA of this. The full list of conditions can be found here.

      As you have the right to remain in the UK, you can apply to exchange your licence now. This is because you will be ordinarily resident in the UK for at least six months per year.

      Hope this helps!

      Andy

  3. Reply

    Stef Satchell

    Hi Andy,

    my husband (who is British) passed his driving test in the UK but holds an EU licence at the moment as he had to exchange his British one to a German one when he was resident there.
    So far we always assumed that he could carry on with the EU licence here in the UK until he was 70. Do you know by any chance if this is still the case?
    Thank you and kindest regards,
    Stef

    1. Reply

      Andy Boardman

      Hi Stef,

      The UK has committed to continuing to accept EU licences on the same basis as when we were a member state. Your husband would therefore be able to carry on driving in the UK on his German licence until the age of 70, or until he’s been a UK resident for three years (whichever of these two is longer).

      Hope this helps!

      Andy

  4. Reply

    John Nash

    I am semi-retired, 72 years old, I live in France and have had a French driving licence for the past two years since I turned 70 and my UK licence expired. I need to return to the UK for 18 months to resolve some issues at my company and I propose exchanging my French licence for a UK licence for this period. Would it be feasible to change back to a French licence after I return to France in 18 months?

    1. Reply

      Andy Boardman

      Hi John,

      In this instance, I think it would be a good idea to stay on your French licence while in the UK. Drivers over the age of 67 are able to drive on an EU licence in the UK for up to three years after becoming a resident, which would be more than enough for your 18-month stay, and would avoid any potential issues with changing back to a French licence upon your return.

      Hope this helps!

      Andy

  5. Reply

    Mr miloudi

    Hello
    What about British citizen living in france. For how long can I drive and what about exchanging driving licence

    Thank you

    1. Reply

      Andy Boardman

      Hi Mr Miloudi,

      UK licences are accepted in France either:

      • until 1st January 2022 (if you started living in France on or before 1st January 2021), or
      • for one year after you became a resident of France.

      If you are going to continue living in France for more than one year, then you should exchange your licence. Information on how to do so can be found here (in French).

      Hope this helps.

      Andy

  6. Reply

    Andy

    Hi i returned to the UK in October 2020. I am a mechanic my current employer wants to send me for my MOT certificating officer licence and other cources, which is great, but i have an EU licence and i have googled all the cources and the all say must have full UK licence. One of the cources is in 8 weeks not enough time to change my licence. So am i not eligible to do the exams with an EU licence??
    Many Thanks

    1. Reply

      Andy Boardman

      Hi Andy,

      The rules for eligibility to become an MOT tester include the following section:

      In the case of a Tester or prospective Tester who holds only a non UK licence this will be treated as equivalent to a UK licence if evidence is produced to show that the person has been a UK resident for less than 12 months. If the non-UK licence is neither to the European Communities model nor in English, it must be accompanied by a certified translation.

      As, in your case, it appears that you’ve been a UK resident for less than 12 months, your EU licence should be accepted. However, it may be best to get in contact with the course provider directly to be sure. Additionally, you should try and get your licence exchanged for a UK one as quickly as possible.

      Hope this helps

      Andy

  7. Reply

    Andy

    Many Thanks Andy for your speedy and helpful reply, i will definitely use this site again and recommend you to those needing the kind of information your so knowledgeable about👍🏻
    Cheers

    1. Reply

      Andy Boardman

      Thanks for the kind words, Andy! Glad to have been able to help.

      Cheers!

      Andy

  8. Reply

    Roman

    Hi i have EU DRIVING LICENCE AND
    i live in uk more then 10 yrs but my driving licence i pass in eu country i need to change flor uk ? Or i can drive till to 70yrs on my eu licence ?

    1. Reply

      Andy Boardman

      Hi Roman,

      You can drive in the UK on your EU licence until the age of 70. After that, you’ll need to exchange your licence.

      Hope this helps!

      Andy

  9. Reply

    Edyta

    Hi Andy,

    Just wanted to say thank you for the amazing work you are doing.
    The information is clear and very useful.

    Keep it up.

    Best wishes,
    Edyta

    1. Reply

      Andy Boardman

      Hi Edyta,

      Thank you so much for your kind words! Glad I could help!

      Andy

  10. Reply

    Mirjam

    This article is much appreciated and thanks Sonja for your update as well. Valuable information!

    1. Reply

      Andy Boardman

      Hi Mirjam,

      I’m glad you found it useful! Thanks for your lovely comment!

      Andy

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