Tips to Get Your UK Driver's Licence & Passing Your Driving Test
Winter is fast approaching; the leaves of the trees are falling everywhere and the landscapes surprise us with their spectacular colours. Autumn is undoubtedly upon us and the cold winter weather will soon be here. Travelling by car is always much more comfortable and if you are a foreign national living in the UK, I will tell you how you can get your UK driving licence.
EU citizens who passed their test in an EEA country can continue to drive in the UK for a limited period which is three years or until their 70th birthday, whichever is the longest. After that, they will need to apply to exchange their EU licence for a UK one.
Foreign nationals moving to the UK from outside the EU may need to pass a theory and practical driving test to obtain a new licence or to exchange their licence. As an expat living in the UK, from a country not belonging to the EU, following these steps should help you to get your licence.
Do you meet the legal requirements?
To drive in the UK, you must be over 17 years of age and have a valid licence to drive motor vehicles on any public road. You should also be able to read a number plate from 20 meters away. Only legal residents can apply for a UK driver's licence, so foreign nationals are required to prove that they have been living in the country for 185 days in the last 12 months.
You are required to take the UK driving test as we have no agreement with countries from outside the EU to exchange our licences. Also, unlike many countries, we drive on the other side of the road so it's no surprise that they want to make sure you have learned to differentiate between the two driving styles.
Obtaining a driving licence in the UK as a foreigner may seem daunting, but the basic process is not that difficult. There is no separate place for foreigners to obtain a UK provisional driving licence, just apply as you would if you were 16 and only just learning to drive! And to reiterate, no matter how old you are, or what type of licence you have in your home country, non-EU foreigners who apply for a UK driving licence do it the same way.
The steps are as follows:
1. Apply for a provisional license
Where to go? You can apply for a provisional licence on the DVLA website.
You will be asked to enter your basic identity and contact details, as well as your addresses for the last 3 years. Through the process, you will have the option to enter your National Insurance Number, if you have one, which is useful as it helps the identification verification process.
How do you verify your identity? If you have a British biometric passport, you can just enter the passport number on the application. Otherwise, you will need to physically send one of the accepted original ID documents to the DVLA office in Swansea, along with a passport photograph and a return envelope.
2. Learn to Drive
At this point you already have your driver's licence with an 'L' in the upper left corner which means "Limited" and shows that you need to be supervised to learn to drive. You can take lessons with a driving school or choose to learn with friends or family. If the supervisor must be 21 years or older, be qualified to drive the type of vehicle you want to learn in, and have held a full licence for at least 3 years. Either with a qualified instructor or family member willing to take you out for practice, L plates must be on the vehicle and "L" of course stands for learner and warns other road users that a driver with less experience is in control of the vehicle. L plates should be removed or covered when the vehicle is not in use by the learner driver
3. Take the test (Theory and then Practical)
When you feel ready to take your theory test, you will need to book a session on the DVLA website. You will be asked to enter your provisional licence number, personal details, and pay £34 by credit or debit card. The DVLA will then contact you with instructions on the next steps.
Once you have passed the theory test which was introduced back in 1996, replacing questions about The Highway Code during the practical test. Once the theory test is passed can may apply for your practical driving test where you will be asked to put into practice everything you have learned during your driving lessons to demonstrate you are a safe and competent user of the road when in charge of a motor vehicle. Remember to bring your provisional licence card with you on the day of the test!
After passing the test, you will be awarded with a Full UK Driving Licence! And once you get a vehicle to drive, have paid the Road Tax and Insurance, you can then look to buy the personal number plates of your choice online. So easy and so simple!