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I recently came to work in the UK on a Tier 2 visa, and I've got my Biometric Residence Permit. I hold a driver's license from a non-EU country, so I'm only allowed to drive in the UK for 1 year. The gov.uk website says: You can drive in Great Britain on your full, valid driving licence for 12 months from when you became resident. It also says: you’re normally a resident if you have a permanent address in Great Britain that you’ve lived in for at least 185 days.

The above points raise a couple of questions:

  1. If I lived in a hotel for 1st month after coming to the UK, and only then started renting a permanent place, does this mean that I wasn't resident for 1st month?
  2. Does the residency definition mean that I'm not resident for my first 185 days in the UK? Does this, in turn, mean that I need to get a UK licence (1 year + 185 days) after crossing the UK border? ("1 year after I became resident")
  3. Under what circumstances might I need to prove to someone that my 1 year has not passed yet?
  4. What are the valid ways to prove it? Provide my BRP that was issued less than 1 year ago? Provide a tenancy agreement that started less than 1 year ago? Provide my passport that shows that I last entered UK less than 1 year ago (in this case - if I left & entered UK several times will only the last time count)?
  5. What can be the consequences of driving with my non-UK/EU licence after 1 year has passed?

I'd be grateful is someone could provide links to any documents clarifying the above (preferably from gov.uk or other government websites).

  • This site askthe.police.uk/content/Q417.htm states that the 12 months starts from the date you came to Great Britain. I agree the various residence ‘definitions’ seem confusing. If I were you I wouldn’t over-think the situation - count 12 months from the date you arrived intending to start work and live in the UK, and get a UK driving licence within that period. If you get it wrong, even unintentionally, you are committing an offence. The penalty for driving without a licence can be 3 to 6 penalty points endorsements and up to £1000 fine. – Traveller Mar 3 at 17:26
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The worst case: You case an accident with high damage, your insurance refuses to pay, and the victim has “unpleasant” friends.

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  • Q1, 2, & 4: This site https://www.askthe.police.uk/content/Q417.htm states that the 12 months starts from the date you came to Great Britain. I agree the various residence ‘definitions’ seem confusing. If I were you I wouldn’t over-think the situation - count 12 months from the date you first arrived to start work and live in the UK, and get a UK driving licence within that period. Your BRP and/or passport would be evidence of when the 12 month period started.

  • Q3 I can think of several reasons, including being involved in a road traffic accident, being caught for speeding, and taking out car insurance. If you buy a car, the DVLA might ask for your driving licence number when you register ownership.

  • Q5: IANAL but If you get it wrong, even unintentionally, you would be committing an offence. The penalty for driving without a licence can be 3 to 6 penalty points endorsements and up to £1000 fine. Your insurance would be invalidated, which would be a further offence carrying a £300 fine and 6 penalty points, plus possible disqualification from driving. If you need to drive for work, that could have a knock-on effect on your employment. Driving without a licence is a criminal offence https://www.motoringoffencesolicitors.co.uk/road-traffic-and-driving-offences/insurance-driving-licence/driving-without-a-licence/ that you’d have to disclose in any visa applications that ask about criminal records.

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Generally you have 1 year after you enter the UK to use your old licence, after that you'll need to get a UK license which involves passing both the theory test and the practical test.

If you have a car already it is advised to do the tests while in your first year as it makes it much easier to pass the test. For example you don't need L plates (not even for the test), you can practice on your own without anyone else sitting with you, it's easier and cheaper to get insurance for your car, and even if you fail the test you can still drive.

Since in the UK there are no requirements to do official driving lessons it's fairly inexpensive as well (however you should still get at least one or two lessons from a teacher who can tell you what to look for during the test)

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