In most other countries people drive on the right-hand side of the road, here in the UK people drive on the left-hand side, and our steering wheels are on the right.
UK legal requirements may also be different from your home country. Anyone driving a vehicle in the UK must:
Before driving any vehicle you should check that you meet all of the legal requirements which apply (a) to the driver, and (b) to the vehicle; and that you are aware of the correct procedures, which may be very different from your home country.
To drive in the UK you will need a driving licence that is valid in the UK, it is an illegal offence to drive without one.
To establish whether or not you can use your existing licence in the UK and, if so, for how long please use the driving in GB interactive tool.
Usually, a driving license issued in your former country of residence will remain valid for a period of time:
At the end of this validity period, you will need to either:
While driving on a foreign license in the UK, you must be registered with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency.
If you wish to drive a car in the UK but do not currently hold a valid licence to do so, you will need to apply for a provisional licence and take a driving test to obtain a full licence.
Even if you have a licence for driving a car, you still need to complete a Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) course before riding a moped or a motorcycle in the UK.
If you own a car and want to drive on the UK’s public roads, third-party car insurance is the minimum level of cover required by law; it is an illegal offence to drive without it.
The UK has three different types of insurance policies that offer different levels of cover:
The cost of your car insurance, your premium, is based on home much of a risk insurers perceive you to be. Factors taken into consideration, include; your age, the length of time you’ve held a licence for, the area you live in, and the age, value, and type of your car.
If you can prove you are not a risk, for example, been accident-free and having somewhere to keep your car safe, your premium will be much less.
Note that third-party cover is not always the cheapest insurance, as comprehensive cover could mean that you’ll be assessed as a lower risk.
An M.O.T (ministry of transport) certificate is a legal requirement.
The purpose of the M.O.T. test is to ensure that your vehicle, if over 3 years old, is checked at least once a year to ensure that it legally roadworthy and meets environmental standards.
An M.O.T. test is available at most garages, it is advisable to ensure that the garage is an approved MoT centre.
Road tax, officially named ‘vehicle excise duty’, it is a legal requirement if you want to drive on UK public roads.
You can pay your tax by applying online or at the Post Office. You will need your registration, insurance, and MOT certificates (if the vehicle is over 3 years old) to apply.
In the UK road users are legally obliged to follow the UK Highway Code, for example, you must drive on the left-hand side of the road and overtake on the right-hand side.
If you do not own a car, you can hire a car from a number of car rental agencies such as:
If you are hiring a car and your licence is not written in Roman characters, for example, it is in Chinese or Japanese you may also need an International Driving Permit.
If you are bringing your car from outside the UK into the UK for more than 6 months you will have to register the vehicle.
Registering the vehicle can be costly and it may be cheaper, in the long run, to consider buying a second-hand car in the UK when you arrive and selling the vehicle when you leave.