6

I may be moving to the UK in the near future. I do not plan to get a driver license there right away because I will be using public transportation. I will be traveling back to Colorado frequently as that is where my family resides. I really need to be able to drive in Colorado while I am there visiting. I currently have a Colorado Issued Drivers License. My question is: How do I maintain my license so that I can continue to drive here while visiting family? Thank you for any help.

  • 4
    In theory, most jurisdictions license only the people who reside there. In practice, once you've moved away from a US state, you can continue to use the license until it expires or until you exchange it for a license in another jurisdiction. Renewing the license can be a problem. You may also want to consider whether maintaining the license will mean that you have to continue to pay income tax in Colorado, or whether it will have an impact on your ability to claim the foreign earned-income exclusion. (This is a comment rather than answer as I am unfamiliar with specifics for Colorado.) – phoog Jan 20 '17 at 21:42
  • 2
    In addition to what @phoog said, if you are leaving the current address on your license and will no longer get mail sent to that address you should change the address with the DMV to one that will continue to work for you (a family member's?). Also the UK will consider your US license invalid for any purpose (e.g. car rentals) after 1 year living there. I don't think Colorado is one of the states that will use the license as evidence that you should continue to pay resident taxes in your absence. – Dennis Jan 22 '17 at 16:59
  • Keep in mind that residency is defined differently in different sections of the law. For example, even after you are no longer a resident for driving or tax purposes, if you move from Denver, CO to a place outside the US, you will still be able to vote in Denver unless and until you establish a new residence somewhere in the US. – Gerard Ashton Jan 3 at 20:35
1

Upon arrival in the UK, you can use your Colorado license for 12 months to drive in the UK. That is the easy part. See details here: https://www.gov.uk/driving-nongb-licence

Upon return to Colorado, you can continue to use your Colorado license, as long as it's not expired and you are a resident of Colorado. So. This will depend on your ability to justify, to the satisfaction of the State of Colorado, that you are resident there. For instance, if you are a student then perhaps you have a permanent address of your parents in Colorado?

In general, the letter of the law in US states doesn't clearly define what it would mean to stop being resident, if you were to simultaneously become resident in another country. A quick search of the CDOR / CDMV website confirmed this for me.

At some point, you are going to have to give up the Colorado license however, and this will be when it becomes invalid; that is, when there is no longer any way you can suitably justify that you continue to be a resident of Colorado. (Note, depending on your situation and the reading of the CO law, this may be immediate!)

Now once you obtain a UK driving license, you can use this license to drive in Colorado for up to 90 days from your date of arrival. See: https://driversed.com/dmv/colorado/foreign-drivers.aspx

You didn't ask this, but it is important if you are going to drive in the UK to get sufficient training. The UK saddles car drivers with considerably more responsibility than an American driver. As a very experienced American driver I required about 10 hours of difference training until I was ready to drive confidently in the UK and pass the test.

To get started, identify a driving instructor in your area, and contract directly with that instructor. Choose one with a car model that's similar to what you are used to, or expect to be driving in the UK. It's typical to pay the instructor in cash for each lesson. If you don't get along with your instructor well, find another one.

You will also need to apply for a learning ("provisional") driving license, and that requires surrendering your passport for a period of a few weeks. I recommend starting this as soon as you have the necessary block of time available to be without your passport. See: https://www.gov.uk/apply-first-provisional-driving-licence

  • It is possible to get a second US passport if you must surrender your passport for a while, such as getting a visa, and also must travel internationally during the period of the surrender. – Gerard Ashton Jan 3 at 20:31
  • The OP will need to consider whether they want to take the extra time to learn to drive with a manual gearbox (stick shift), or whether they want to stick to an automatic. Most British driving instructors use cars with manual gearboxes because unless you pass your test in a manual, you are not licensed to drive them (and most British cars are manual). – Martin Bonner Feb 1 at 15:15

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.