Closed petition Extend the 12-month period drivers can use non-GB driving licences

The Government should extend the 12-month grace period allowing UK residents to drive on a non-GB licence, due to Covid-19.

More details

During this 12-month period new UK residents are expected to apply for a provisional driving licence, pass theory test and a driving test. Due to Covid-19 provisional driving licences have been delayed, theory and driving tests have been cancelled or delayed. Even if the DVLA returns to operate as normal there's a long backlog. New UK residents may not be able to drive or perform many critical tasks involving driving such as drive for a living, commuting, attending health treatments, etc.

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Government responded

This response was given on 25 January 2021

There are no current plans to extend the period drivers can use non-GB licences. If needed, mobile emergency workers using non-GB licences can get a driving test during the current lockdown.

Read the response in full

Holders of driving licences issued outside of the European Economic Area who become resident in Great Britain are able to drive motorcars and motorcycles for up to one year from the date they become resident.

Drivers with a licence issued by a country or territory which has been designated for licence exchange purposes (https://www.gov.uk/exchange-foreign-driving-licence/y/yes/car-or-motorcycle/a-designated-country-countries-with-exchange-agreements-with-great-britain), which includes Canada, Australia and New Zealand, can then exchange their licence for a UK licence.

Drivers with a licence issued by other countries must apply for a provisional driving licence and pass both a theory and practical driving test. This requirement is for road safety reasons, to ensure that drivers meet our high domestic standards.

There are no current plans to extend the period for which people can drive in GB using their foreign driving licence. The current cut off point of 12 months ensures that all resident drivers meet the GB level of road safety standard as soon as possible while recognising that, when relocating from another country, there may be many things that people need to attend to as part of taking up residency.

This approach also mirrors the fact that foreign visitors who do not become resident are able to drive for up to 12 months on their home licences. Drivers who have passed a test in another country, will have experience of practical driving in their home country (or up to 12 months as a resident here). As there is or has been no assessment of their practical skills once resident in GB, it is difficult to estimate the road safety risk they present, it is therefore important that this is assessed within a reasonable timeframe.

We can recognise the driving test standards of another country as a ‘designated country’ (for licence exchange) following a detailed assessment of the skills needed to be demonstrated, as well as the nature of the test itself. It is possible for countries to be added through legislation to this list of designated countries. Given the current pressures of the pandemic, the process to assess and ultimately legislate to either designate more countries or to amend legislation to increase the 12-month period would take time. The DVSA is currently focused on ensuring mobile emergency workers continue to have access to practical tests whilst urgently developing solutions to address the backlog in practical driving testing caused by the pandemic.

The DVSA has had to suspend routine driving tests during the series of national restrictions and lockdowns since March 2020 and appreciates that this has caused a considerable backlog of candidates waiting for practical driving tests. As noted above, the DVSA is looking at a range of measures to increase testing capacity once restrictions are eased. These include offering overtime and annual leave buy back to examiners, asking all those qualified to carry out tests who do not currently to do so, and conducting out of hours testing (such as on public holidays). A recruitment campaign is also underway to increase the overall number of driving examiners available for testing.

The DVSA is currently responding to requests for driving tests from organisations on behalf of frontline mobile emergency workers, who require a driving licence to carry out duties in their employment role. This is a limited service subject to examiner resource and is restricted to candidates working in health and social care, and public bodies providing a service in the national interest. The DVSA is contacting eligible organisations to explain how to nominate candidates; candidates cannot apply themselves. This service will of course extend to any foreign licence holder who meets this criterion.

Department for Transport