Driving In The EU After Brexit: Driving Licence Exchange

30th July 2019
Paul Brooks

The rules for exchanging UK driving licences will change when the UK leaves the EU. Check what you need to do to drive legally when you live in an EU country.

UK licence holders who live in the EU or EEA

While the UK is a member of the EU, you can exchange a UK driving licence for a driving licence from an EU or EEA country. You should do this if you live and drive in an EU or EEA country.

If the UK leaves the EU without a Brexit deal, this licence exchange arrangement may stop in some EU and EEA countries. To be able to continue driving you may have to re-take your driving test in the EU or EEA country where you live.

Some countries will continue the licence exchange arrangement after Brexit.

You can exchange either a UK photocard or UK paper driving licence without taking a test, if you live in:

  • Estonia, within 1 year of registering as a resident
  • Hungary, within 1 year of registering as a resident
  • Iceland, within 1 year of registering as a resident
  • Latvia, within 1 year of registering as a resident
  • Malta, within 1 year of registering as a resident
  • Portugal
    • If you register as a resident before the UK leaves the EU you have until 31 December 2020 to exchange
    • If you register as a resident after the UK leaves the EU you have 90 days from the day you become resident to exchange
  • Slovakia

You can exchange a UK photo card driving licence, but not a UK paper driving licence, without taking a test if you live in:

  • Czech Republic
    • If you register as a resident before the UK leaves the EU you have 1 year from the date that the UK leaves the EU to exchange
    • If you register as a resident after the UK leaves the EU you have 3 months to exchange
  • Poland, within 6 months of registering as a resident

You will need to take a medical examination before you can exchange a UK driving licence without taking a test, if you live in:

  • Bulgaria, within 1 year of re-registering as a resident
  • Croatia, within 1 year from the date that UK leaves the EU
  • Romania, within 185 days from the date that UK leaves the EU
  • Spain, within 9 months from the date that UK leaves the EU

Only certain types of UK driving licence holders will need to take a test to exchange their licence if they live in:

  • Belgium
    • Category A2 and specific national categories will need to take a driving test
    • All other categories can exchange without retaking a driving test
  • Finland
    • Group 2 and BE licence holders will need to take a driving test
    • All other licence holders will have 2 years either from the date the UK leaves the EU or the date of registering as a resident to exchange
  • Luxembourg
    • HGV, bus and coach licence holders will need to take a driving test
    • Motorcycle and car licence holders will have 1 year from the date the UK leaves the EU or the date of registering as a resident to exchange
  • Netherlands
    • If you register as a resident before the UK leaves the EU you have 15 months from the date that the UK leaves the EU to exchange, and you won’t have to retake your driving test
    • If you register as a resident after the date that the UK leaves the EU you must retake your driving test within 185 days to obtain a Dutch driving licence

If you exchange your UK driving licence, you will be able to regain your UK licence when you return to live in the UK, provided you passed your driving test in the UK or a designated country.

UK licence holders visiting the EU or EEA

If the UK leaves the EU without a Brexit deal, you do not need to exchange your UK driving licence to drive when visiting EU or EEA countries. For example, when driving on holiday or on a business trip. Instead, UK driving licence holders will need an international driving permit (IDP) as well as their UK driving licence to drive when visiting some EU and EEA countries.

EU drivers who live in the UK after Brexit

If you are an EU citizen living in the UK you can drive on your EU or EEA car or motorcycle driving licence until you are 70. If you are 68 or over when you become resident, you can drive for 3 years. After this time, you must apply for a UK driving licence. You cannot drive if your licence expires.

Different restrictions apply for holders of EU and EEA lorry or bus licences who are (or become) UK residents.

If you passed your driving test in the EU or EEA, the UK will continue to exchange your driving licence after Brexit.

If you hold an EU driving licence but you passed your test outside the EU or EEA there are restrictions on driving licence exchange. You may need to take a driving test to get a UK licence.

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