Driving After Brexit: EU Citizens Living in the UK

The Brexit transition period ended at the start of 2021, and new rules are here for British and EU citizens alike. Here in our Driving After Brexit series, we're examining what the political changes will mean for everyday motorists. In this article, we'll cover the impact on EU citizens living in the UK.


What happens to drivers with a licence from another EU country?

First up, we're going to concentrate on those who already have a car or motorcycle licence from another EU or EEA country. This group of motorists are able to drive on their existing licence until the age of 70. Those who become a resident aged 68 or over, meanwhile, can drive for three years. Depending on your medical situation, you may need to pass additional tests to continue driving after this age.

Given the current harmonisation of rules, it's logical to wonder whether this state of affairs is continuing after Brexit. Fortunately, we have good news on this front. At present, the government is planning no change to the current acceptance of EU and EEA driving licences.

Similarly, drivers who wish to exchange their EU or EEA licence for a British one will be able to do so as is currently possible. This involves ordering form D1 from the DVLA and paying a fee of £43. For most drivers, however, this won't be necessary. It is only compulsory to exchange your licence when you hit the age of 70, or after three years if over 68. Please note, however, that if you choose to apply for a UK licence, you would need to give up your current EU licence.

So, when it comes to cars and motorbikes, things are straightforward. Things can get more tricky, however, when it comes to other types of vehicle…


What about lorry, bus and minibus licences?

Wheels of two lorries
Image source: Tama66 (via Pixabay)

Next, we'll examine the situation when it comes to lorry, bus and minibus licences, or ‘vocational licences’. We'll start with the good news: as with car and motorcycle licences, Brexit hasn't resulted in any major changes here. However, the existing rules are more complex than those pertaining to smaller vehicles. So, buckle up!

Lorry licence rules differ by age. Those under 45 will be able to drive until they hit the age of 45, or for 5 years after becoming a UK resident—whichever is longer. After this point, they must then exchange their licence by sending form D2 to the DVLA.

If you're between 45 and 65, you can drive on your licence until you're 66, or for 5 years after becoming a UK resident—whichever is shorter. Then, you'll need to exchange your licence. Finally, if you're 66 or over, you'll need to exchange their licence immediately. If you're 45 or over, you'll need to get your doctor to fill out form D4 as proof that you're medically fit to drive. You must then send this to the DVLA together with form D2.


What do I need to do if I don't already have a driving licence?

DVSA entrance sign Photo © David Hillas (cc-by-sa/2.0)

If you don't already have a licence, then the answer is simple: get one! These are the steps you'll need to follow:

  • Firstly, you'll need to be a UK resident. This means you need to have been living in the country for at least 185 days within the past year.
  • Next, you must apply for a provisional licence. When applying, you'll need to send an identity document to the DVLA unless you have a UK biometric passport. Visit the DVLA to apply online.
  • After your licence arrives, you can begin taking driving lessons here in the UK. Be sure to check out PassMeFast's range of courses to find the option that's right for you!
  • You must pass two tests in order to get your licence. The first is a theory test, an exam which you can take at a local test centre. Prepare for this using our revision resources.
  • The final hurdle is the practical test. This will include an eyesight check, questions on vehicle maintenance and safety, general driving, manoeuvres and more. For full details, read our guide to what happens during a driving test. All you need to do now is pass, and…
  • Congratulations! You now have your very own UK driving licence! Now all that's left to do is try out some of the country's top road trips!

FAQs

① Which countries count as EU/EEA?

This includes the 27 EU member states plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. Different rules apply to other European countries:

  • Licence holders from designated countries can exchange their licences within 5 years of becoming resident without taking further tests. This group of countries includes Andorra, the Faroe Islands, Gibraltar, Monaco and Switzerland, as well as several non-European countries. For more information, visit our guide to which countries' licences are valid in the UK, or use the DVSA's online tool.
  • If you hold a licence from Jersey, Guernsey or the Isle of Man, you must exchange your licence to drive in the UK. You will not, however, need to sit any tests.
  • If you are from a European country which is neither EU/EEA nor a designated country, you can drive on your existing licence for 12 months. After this point, you will need to apply for a provisional licence and take a theory and practical test in the UK in order to continue driving. Visit our prices page for information on booking a refresher course.

② Could the rules change in the future?

The government has committed to accepting all EU and EEA licences indefinitely, regardless of any withdrawal agreement. While it is possible that a future government could change these rules, this looks highly unlikely at present.

③ Will I need an International Driving Permit?

Drivers will not need an IDP to continue driving in the UK after Brexit. All you will need to carry is your EU/EEA driving licence. You must, however, ensure that you have suitable insurance cover in the UK. For advice, visit our article covering what to check for when you're buying car insurance.

④ I passed my test outside of the EU/EEA, then exchanged my licence for an EU/EEA one. What rules apply to me?

The exact rules that apply to you will vary depending on the country in which you passed your test. If you passed your test in one of the designated countries, you should be able to exchange your licence for a UK one without further tests. Those who passed in another country, however, will likely need to apply for a UK provisional licence and pass both theory and practical tests after 12 months.

⑤ I'm planning on moving to the UK in the coming months. What rules will apply to me?

The rules set forth in this article apply equally to those who are currently resident in the UK and those who become UK residents in the future.

⑥ If I apply for a UK licence, can I keep my EU licence?

Unfortunately, this isn't possible. If you apply for a UK licence, you would be expected to give up any other licence you hold.


For more information, check out our other articles, covering the rights of UK citizens living in the EU and EU citizens visiting the UK.

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