Exchanging Your UK Licence For An Overseas One

Exchanging your UK licence for an overseas one – is it necessary, and can I hire a car during the process?

With Brexit constantly looming ahead there is a lot of uncertainty currently among expats when it comes to hiring a car back in the UK – do you need to swap your licence over to your country of residence, do you need to keep the UK one, and can you hire a car whilst in the process of switching it over? Hopefully we can clear this up for you below.

Can I keep my UK licence?

So, first of all, why shouldn’t you just keep your current UK licence, and why would having a UK licence affect your ability to rent a car? Well the main reason is that with a UK licence, a large majority of suppliers do something called an electronic address check upon arrival – this involves checks such as your current address matching your licence, paying council tax at that address and being on the electoral roll. Now as you can imagine, if you are living abroad you are practically guaranteed to fail this check, and if you do fail the supplier wouldn’t release the car to you, possibly leaving you stranded at the airport. With an overseas licence though you bypass these checks, as long as you have some proof of your return flights with you, such as a boarding pass. Depending on the country you’ve moved to also there are often restrictions to keeping a UK licence there once we’ve left the EU, feel free to check the government website for a breakdown on this.

Am I able to rent a car whilst my licence is being switched over?

With wait times at all time high from the Brexit backup, it’s very possible that you may be facing weeks without a licence while it’s being switched over, and may very well need to hire a car within this period. This can be quite a tricky area as essentially at this point your licence is in limbo, it’s not as easy as a simple DVLA check that we can do with a lost licence / expired photocard. Luckily though we have managed to arrange a solution for this with one of our suppliers, you would just need to ensure you have some extra ID with you:

  • Photocopy of your previous UK licence
  • Passport for photo ID
  • Old licence number and National Insurance number
  • Proof of flights in / out of the UK (if flying in and out)

This option is available at all the major airports in the UK and Ireland, as well as most major cities also – just make sure you contact us directly for this as you cannot arrange it online, you can contact us over the phone on +44 (0)1138800748, or feel free to email us too to [email protected].

Is there anything else I should know about switching my licence over?

There are a few other things to be aware of in relation to international permits and driving history carrying over. If you are switching to an EU licence then you have nothing to worry about – all EU licences are accepted without an IDP (international driving permit), and your driving history carries over too so you should see your original licence issue date on the back of your new licence. If it’s a non-EU licence though this can be a little trickier.

You may need an IDP depending on the country, if the licence is in English or a Latin language then you will be fine without one, for example a US / AU licence will be accepted by itself, but if you’re switching it to a country with a non-Latin language though, like Arabic or Cyrillic for example, you would need an IDP to rent back in the UK. Generally, your driving history will not carry over also if you’re switching it to a non-EU country – this means it will be treated as a new licence to the car rental suppliers, most of which require at least a year since the pass date on the licence before they can rent to you. If this does apply to you though we do have a specialist option for new drivers across the UK which you can find more info by getting in touch with our team.

If you have any further questions at all regarding this or need any clarification at all feel free to contact us via the same means mentioned before – over the phone on +44 (0)1138800748, or email on [email protected], we’ll be more than happy to help!