What happens to my UK driving licence when I exchange it for an Irish one? I've heard it gets returned to the DVLA in Swansea. Does it become void afterwards? Can I purchase a replacement UK licence and submit the old one for exchange?

  • Normally you are only allowed to have one drivers licence based on your country of residence. What happens to the previous licence can differ, but often it is returned to the original issuer (but not always). Different rules may apply if no agreement exists for the conversion of drivers licences. Oct 8, 2020 at 3:19
  • The Irish website ndls.ie/how-to-apply/exchange-a-uk-ni-licence.html indicates you cannot submit an ‘old’ licence: “...you must surrender your current or most recent UK/NI driving licence ...if you do not have your most recent driving licence in your possession, you will need to present an original letter of entitlement / driver statement from the appropriate licensing authority and must complete the lost or stolen licence declaration on the application form...”
    – Traveller
    Oct 8, 2020 at 6:24

2 Answers 2


When you apply for an exchange to an Irish driving license you have to hand in your previous driving license and will lose the use of that.

It does not make sense to me but it is the common way with driving licenses. And more, if you reside in a country and want to drive, you have to exchange your driving license within a given time. (If you decide not to drive while in that country and expect to return to the country you have your driving license they do not force you to exchange it.) In fact, I found that your license is send back to the institution that handed it out to you, who may or may not send it back to you. But as far as I know the UK does not allow multiple driving licenses and will not hand it out to you.

This site, mentioned in a comment, also mentions that you have to hand in your driving license or if you can not, they will check with the institution that handed it to you and will deny the exchange if you did exchange it before or have lost the use of it.


The Irish authorities have written a rather ambiguous instruction for the exchange of driver licenses within the EU.

Actually, you can apply for the exchange even without the physical driver license card from another EU country. The NDLS will contact the country that issued your original driver license and obtain information about the issuing process. Your driver license will be exchanged if it is the original one and the previous driver test took place in that country. The exchange will be rejected if the previous driver license was exchanged in some way previously.

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