The Government has closed a loophole that made it easy for foreign motorists to exchange their driving licences for British equivalents. Non-European members must therefore now prove they passed their driving tests in countries with similar standards as the UK. These include: Australia, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Falkland Islands, Faroe Islands, Hong Kong, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland and Zimbabwe. In the past, however, licenses from these countries could be exchanged automatically. That enabled foreign motorists – perhaps from regions with questionable test standards - to first exchange their licences for those from qualifying countries then apply to the DVLA. As such, motorists with limited training were allowed to drive throughout Britain. The onus is now on foreign motorists not just to prove they have licences from suitable countries - but that they passed tests within their borders. The Government hopes this change will reduce accidents.
Road Safety Minister Explains Government's Position
Road Safety Minister, Stephen Hammond, revealed: “The UK’s roads are amongst the safest in the world, thanks in part to the rigorous standards demanded by our driving test. By closing this loophole we will not only make Britain’s roads even safer, but will help tackle fraud and level the playing field for British drivers who spend time and money learning to drive at the standard required in the UK.” He added: “It is obvious to everyone that drivers who have not been through a rigorous driving test will not be as safe as those who have. This change in the law will mean we can be sure that any foreign drivers exchanging their licence here have already passed a test of a similar standard to ours.”
European Motorists Exempt From Rule Changes
In contrast, licences issued within the European Union are more flexible. Motorists from: Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Cyprus, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden can therefore exchange their driving licences without proving where they took their tests. The same applies to motorists from Iceland, Norway, and Liechtenstein which are part of the European Economic Area. However, foreign motorists are not required to exchange their licecnces unless they meet certain criteria. These reate to age, the length of the stay, etc. Deatils can be found via: www.gov.uk/driving-in-great-britain-on-non-gb-licence.