The Brexit referendum result is in. The UK has voted to leave the European Union. So what does that mean for your EU driving licence?
This article was written shortly after the referendum when a negotiated exit seemed the most likely.
2 years on and just a few weeks to go – and still no body knows what is going to happen!
Your UK/EU driving licence and the next 2 years
Well one thing is clear, nothing will change until 2 years after the UK Government invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. That starts the process of leaving the EU. During that 2 year period there will be much negotiation between governments and many changes to legislation and regulations. Until that 2 year period ends the UK is still a full member of the EU.
While the UK is still in the EU a UK driving licence is an EU driving licence. Any EU driving licence holder can drive in the UK until the age of 70yrs. Or for 3 years if over 68yrs when they become resident. After this time the EU licence must be exchanged for a UK licence.
None EU driving licences
What is less well known is that there are a number of none EU countries whose full driving licences can simply be swapped for a UK/EU licence. A straight swap, no need to take another driving test.
The list of ‘designated’ countries includes :
- British Virgin Islands
- Canada, Falkland Islands
- Faroe Islands
- Hong Kong
- New Zealand
- Republic of Korea
- South Africa
As well as
- Isle of Man
A citizen of these countries, normally resident in the UK, may drive for no more than 12 months without a UK driving licence. You are ‘normally resident’ if you have lived here for at least 185 days.
Visitors from any country may drive on their foreign driving licence for up to 12 months from last entry to the UK.
After 12 months they can swap their foreign driving licence for a UK driving licence at any time up to 5 years after coming to the UK. All they need to do send off a form, the foreign licence and a fee £43. It takes about 3 weeks to process.
Your UK/EU driving licence after the next 2 years
Ok, we admit this is a bit of guess work but here goes…
Your driving licence has an EU flag on it. But it is still a UK licence. (If it was issued after July 2015 it will also have the Union flag on it too.) It seems very unlikely that the goverment will declare it invalid the minute that the UK leaves the EU. The DVLA would probably collapse under the strain of exchanging millions of driving licences even over a 2 year period.
- even after Brexit your current driving licence will still be valid, a new design will be introduced. You will be issued with the new design when you need to exchange your licence normally, ie change of address, name, get endorsement points (tsk, tsk), get points removed (yay). This gradual change over is how the DVLA have always handled changes to the design of the driving licence in the past.
EU driving licences after the next 2 years.
- EU visitors will be able to drive in the UK for up to 12 months from first entry to the UK just like visitors from any other country
- The UK and EU will negotiate a settlement so that everything stays the way it is for EU citizens normally resident in the UK.
- EU citizens normally resident in the UK may lose their unlimited entitlement to drive in the UK. The EU will be added to the list of ‘designated countries’. EU licence holders will be able to drive for no more than 12 months and then will be able to swap the EU licence for a UK one. If EU citizens will be allowed to drive for 12 months after final Brexit is anyones’ guess in this scenario.
If you are an EU citizen planning to stay in the UK after Brexit be prepared to exchange your home driving licence to a UK one at some point in the next 2 years.
If you are a UK citizen planing to stay resident in an EU country you might consider swapping your UK driving licence for an EU one issued locally.
Clearly nothing is entirely clear at this stage but it is clear that we will need to revisit and update this blog regularly over the next couple years.
Hope that’s clear then.