6

As I understand, it is legal to drive in the United Kingdom with an EU/EEA licence until you are 70 years old, with no residence time limit. Are there reasons to exchange it to a GB license anyway? I can think of a few things:

  • Cheaper car insurance. Is it enough to offset the £43 + various costs of exchanging?
  • The license needs renewal anyway, and reviewing it would be difficult or impossible.
  • Getting an identity document other than a passport.
  • Brexit worries, but there should be plenty of time to exchange it if necessary later.
  • In my experience, insurance price is the same, and an EU driving license is accepted everywhere as a valid id. So you can tick off half of your list :-) – Diego Sánchez Mar 13 '17 at 7:19
  • If the license needs renewal, the correct procedure (according to EU rules) is indeed to ask for a licence from the country where you are a resident. Ditto if the license is lost or stolen (that's what happened to me). And all EU licenses are planned to have limited validity (10 to 15 year) from 2033 onwards (previously issued lifelong licenses will still be valid until 2033). – Gala Mar 13 '17 at 7:58
  • 3
    One advantage: If you get a ticket for speeding, red traffic light etc. you can just accept a fine and points in your license without going to court, which is usually a lot cheaper than going to court. That's only available in the UK if you have a UK license. – gnasher729 Mar 14 '17 at 23:07
  • 1
3

Generally you are not required to exchange your licence, and you won't benefit much by doing so. If your old licence has still a few years' validity left you might not want to bother. However if it's validity is close to the end date you can only renew it where you are resident. Exchanging the licence will also automatically renew it, so any time you do the exchange you will get a new licence with a new validity (usually 10 years).

However once your old license is nearing it's expiry you have to renew/exchange it in the country where you reside. Note that you should definitely do that before the old one expires to avoid any issues during the exchange. As stated the licence you get back will have a new validity.

One exception to the above is if you are exchanging an EU licence, that you obtained by exchanging a non-EU licence in your previous country. These licenses are not considered real EU driving licenses, and they will only allow you to drive in the UK for a year after entering the country, and you actually have to retake the test to get a full driving license.

One other exception is if you are older than 67 when becoming a resident. In this case your old driving licence is only valid for a maximum of 3 years after becoming a resident, after which you have to exchange it to a UK one.

While insurance costs don't usually change, one huge benefit of having a UK licence is that it is probably the most convenient Proof of Address you can have, which is usually required when doing business with banks and other institutions. Also note gnasher's comment on getting speeding tickets:

If you get a ticket for speeding, red traffic light etc. you can just accept a fine and points in your license without going to court, which is usually a lot cheaper than going to court. That's only available in the UK if you have a UK license.

On the other hand having a UK license will make it much harder to prove that you are not a UK resident in case the police catches you driving a non-UK licensed car in the UK (including if you moved out of the UK and are not in fact a resident, just visiting as a tourist).

  • I think you need to emphasize your third sentence more. You must renew an EU license every so often (depends who issued it - usually 10 years); when you renew your license, you must renew it where you are resident. – Martin Bonner May 13 '18 at 16:12
-3

Legally, you are not losing your original EU driving licence, you are registering it to a new address which happens to be in the UK and by doing that both your original issuing authority and the UK will have your details. The UK DVLA will then issue you with a UK version of your licence. All European licences carry a fine if found to be registered to an address where you are not resident, so the same applies to me in Spain, the other way round.

You are required to register your licence with the driving authority of the country where you normally reside. If you are merely on an extended break and spend less than six months in any 12 in the UK, then it is not your country of residence - however where you spend more than six months is...

In the event you return to live permanently back where your original licence was issued, they are still the original issuing authority and will permit you to revert to an EU licence, unless you have legal restrictions that disqualify you (more than the acceptable number of points, banned from driving etc. etc.). So in essence, to drive legally, your driving licence must be registered to your actual place of residence (£500 fine if it isn't and you are caught). If your address is not in the same country that issued your licence, that issuing authority cannot change the address or renew your licence... It has to be done by the country you moved to.

Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – SztupY Oct 2 '18 at 23:01

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.