I hold my foreign international license which I still can use to drive within the UK (i.e. less than 12 months has passed).

Now I am going to obtain full UK license. Can I go through the whole procedure of getting the full license without obtaining a provisional license and without buying L-plates for my car?

2 Answers 2


You'll need a provisional license.

At gov.uk there's a tool for driving in Great Britian with a foreign license.

Assuming that your license is not from a small number of specific countries, the end result is:

  • You can drive in Great Britain on your full, valid driving licence for 12 months from when you became resident
  • After 12 months you’ll need to apply for a provisional licence and pass the theory and practical driving tests to drive in Great Britain.

If you get your provisional license during that first 12 months, you are not required to show L-plates during that first 12 months (the time that your foreign licence is still valid). You also don't need to be accompanied, and you can drive on motorways (again, just during the first 12 months). After that first 12 months, you must show L-plates and be accompanied, so it's best to start the process as soon as possible.


It depends on where in the world issued your driving license.

On the Gov.UK website there is a Driving License Exchange tool. If you follow that answering it with your situation, it will tell you if you can exchange your license, or if you'll have to re-sit.

For example, if you are now a resident of the UK, and hold a full Canadian car driving license you can exchange it, if you fill out the right forms and pay the fee, up to 5 years after moving. For an EU license it's similar, with you being able to exchange (up until you are 70 years old, or after 3 years into entering the country, whichever is longer).

However, if it's not from one of the right list of countries, then you can only drive on the license for 12 months, and after that you'll have to pass the theory test then practical test to get a brand new UK license.

(I think that if you can't exchange your license, then before the 12 months are up you can apply for a provisional UK one, prepare for the test, but keep driving on your foreign license without L-plates, but you probably want to ring the DVLA to double check on that one...)

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