How to get a driver’s license when moving to the UK from Australia

How to get a driver’s license when moving to the UK from Australia
Photo: Dtray, Pixabay

For those moving from Australia to the United Kingdom, obtaining a valid driver’s licence in your new country is an important step in getting settled in. However, the process of converting your Australian licence into a British one can be complicated if you don’t know where to begin.

The following will look at the process of applying for a new driver’s licence in the UK.

What kind of driver’s license will you need in the UK?

If you possess a current Australian driver’s license and want to visit the UK or become a permanent resident then you are able to exchange it for a UK license. This does not mean you need to sit another driving test, as both the UK and Australia have similar road laws.

In the UK, the minimum age for driving is 17 for cars up to 3.5 tonnes and motorcycles over 50cc. The minimum age is 16 for mopeds up to 50cc as well as some other kinds of vehicles.

The minimum age is 18 for commercial vehicles up to 7.5 tonnes and 21 for HGV (heavy goods vehicles).

If you hold a valid Australian driver’s licence, you can get a British licence without taking a practical test within your first year in the UK. If you fail to apply within the first year, you will need to complete a driving test.

Those who fail to pass their test in the first year will need to apply to get a provisional license and drive under certain conditions. The conditions include having a qualified driver present or sticking to a certain speed limit.

British residents

An individual with a valid Australian driver’s licence who is living in the UK can drive for up to a year after becoming a resident. They must exchange their Australian licence for a British one after a year’s time in order to continue driving legally.

For the exchange process to be valid, it must take place within 5 years of becoming a UK resident.

Driver’s licence

If you are moving to the UK from Australia, your Australian driving license will be useable on British roads for up to 3 months from your arrival. After this 3 month period is over, you will be required to obtain a valid UK driver’s license if you want to continue driving.

Australia is a country that the UK recognises as having a very similar set of road laws, so Australians who have held their licence for over 2 years do not need to sit a practical exam when they apply for a licence in Great Britain.

However, Australian licences are issued at a state-by-state level, with means specific regulations can vary. In the UK you are required to carry you license at all times while driving, so any local laws in Australia that permit you travelling without a licence are superseded by British law.

If you have held an Australian licence for less than 2 years, you may need to have probationary restrictions applied to your new UK licence.

Getting your licence

You will need the following items in order to obtain your licence;

  • Existing foreign driving licence and international driving permit (if applicable)
  • Меdісаl test, theory test, practical test, HGV trаіnіng аnd tеst, СРС training
  • A permanent UK address
  • A cheque for the fee
  • Your passport
  • An additional form of identification to prove your address

Additionally, friends or family with a valid license can vouch for you. A bank card with your name embossed can also be used as identification.