Getting a driving licence as an international student

You may be wondering how to obtain a UK driving licence if you are an international student studying, or considering studying, in the UK.

In the UK, a lot of universities are located in urban areas, making public transport a convenient option. However, the good news is that you can obtain a driving licence in the UK, if you want to avoid public transport.

Please note: You may not need to pass the UK driving test in order to drive in the UK if you hold a driving licence from your native country. This varies depending on where your driver’s licence was issued. Using the government’s non-GB licence-checking tool is the most effective approach to make sure.

How to get a UK driving licence

Step 1: Check how long you can drive on your non-GB licence  

You can drive in the UK for a year or more if you have a valid driving licence from another nation, such as an EU licence or one from a designated country.

Step 2: Apply for a provisional licence  

If you wish to learn to drive in the UK and do not currently hold a licence, you must apply for a provisional licence. Only after you have lived in the UK for at least six months can you begin this process.

Step 3: Prepare and pass your theory test

After you’ve received your UK provisional licence, you can start preparing for your theory test. You can book it online on the DVLA website. The test costs £23.  

Make sure you revise for the test even if you have taken a theory or practical driving test in your home country, as the questions asked will be different. The test is split into two parts; you will need to revise the Highway Code and prepare for the hazard perception test. There are a few revision apps out there, for £4.99.

Step 4: Take driving lessons and practice for your practical test

You will need to take driving lessons with a qualified instructor (or drive with someone who meets the DVLA’s legal requirements) to ensure you are ready for your UK driving test. Even if you have passed a driving test in your home country, it is a good idea to have a few lessons to ensure you have the best chance of passing your UK test.  

Step 5: Book and pass your practical driving test 

After you have passed your theory test, you can book your practical test.  

After passing, you will get your UK driver’s licence and be allowed to drive unaccompanied within the country. Keep in mind that whether you want to buy, rent, or use a friend’s automobile in the UK, you will need to have auto insurance.

How to get a UK provisional driving licence

You must apply for a provisional UK licence if you don’t currently have one, it was issued in a non-designated nation, and you want to drive for longer than a year. This is only available to you after six months of UK residency.

You can apply for one online on the DVLA website. You’ll be asked for the following information: 

  • Contact and identification information
  • Your addresses for the past 3 years
  • Your National Insurance Number (NIN), which is optional but it helps speed up the ID verification process

Unless you have a British passport, you’ll need to send your original identification documents (passport/Biometric Residence Permit) to the DVLA office in your city. You’ll also need to send a passport-style photo in a return envelope.

Getting your provisional licence will cost you £34, which you will pay at the end of the process.