I know that a Hong Kong driving license can be exchanged to a UK license if you came to the UK no more than 5 years. My question is that, if I have been living in the UK in the last 10 years and holding a UK provisional driving license, and I move to Hong Kong for 1-2 years and get a Hong Kong driving license and return to the UK, can I still exchange my license to a UK one?

  • My knowledge is lacking but it'd be good to have - can you have a 'Hong Kong' citizen? Is that a thing? Or is it British/Chinese depending? I was going to add a tag for citizenship, but wasn't sure...
    – Mark Mayo
    Dec 22, 2014 at 7:28
  • There's no such thing as a HK "citizen". You're either a PRC national, or a foreign national.
    – dda
    Dec 24, 2017 at 7:48

1 Answer 1


Hong Kong is on the DVLA's list of designated countries with which you can exchange your driving licence on a like for like basis.

Gov.uk has a very informative section about exchanging foreign driving licences.

As you have a provisional licence, I'm not if or how the rules differ from a full licence, so you may have to do some research yourself. You would likely be best off ringing up the DVLA and speaking to someone directly. My personal experiences with their customer services have all been very, very positive.

I exchanged my full Canadian licence for a full UK licence about 4 years ago. I got a full UK category B/BE with automatic only restriction (code 78). There is also a code 70CDN to indicate that the entitlement was an exchange (CDN denotes Canada). One irritation was that I had to take a road test to drive a manual car as it could not be proven that I took my Canadian road test on a manual (hence the restriction). No licencing authorities in Canada care at all about what kind of transmission your car has, so it's bound to annoy nearly everyone, especially if they're like me and drove manual cars in Canada for years. After I passed my test, my category B entitlement changed to remove 78 and 70CDN codes, but the BE entitlement still has them on. I would have to take the trailer road test (minimum £115) to remove the automatic restriction.

Also, I'm fairly sure that if you have ever held a UK driving licence and you return to the UK after living abroad, you can simply apply to the DVLA to reinstate your licence if you're not exchanging one, but do check with the DVLA first about this.

  • 1
    After leaving the UK you should probably forfeit your provisional licence. It will be of no use for you, as it's only valid in the UK, and if you get a proper licence elsewhere it might hinder you in the exchange process, as you cannot hold multiple licences in the UK, so you have to forfeit your provisional one during the exchange anyway.
    – SztupY
    Dec 23, 2014 at 16:37

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