Are you studying in the UK and tired of commuting by the tube or other public transport? You might want to look into driving in the comfort and convenience of your own car instead of the hassle of finding the fastest bus routes or having your legs ache from cycling for hours every day. The good news is that you can obtain a UK driver's license as an international student in the UK after following these simple steps.
First of all, it is essential to know that driving without a license in the UK or with one that is invalid is a criminal offence and leads to having your car insurance invalidated.
If you have a valid license from one of the designated countries, you can drive with it in the UK for no more than 12 months.
Which countries' driving licenses are valid in the UK?
Andorra, 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.
Whether you have a valid license from your country or not, once you've been a resident in the UK for 6 months, you can apply to a provisional driving license.
What are the legal requirements to obtain a valid car licence in the UK?
You would have to meet the legal requirements, which are to be over the age of 17, can read a licence plate from 20 metres away, and proof of residency in the country for 6 months (185 days) within the past 12 months.
Applying for a provisional license can be easily done online through the DVLA website. You will be asked to enter the following:
1- Your basic identification and contact information.
2- Your addresses for the past 3 years.
3- Your National Insurance Number (NIN), which is optional but helps in ID verification.
Afterwards, unless you have a British passport, you'll need to send your original Identification documents to the DVLA office in your city along with a personal photo, passport-style, and a return envelope. This will cost you £34 paid by card at the end of the process.
What if you cannot apply online for your UK driving license as a student?
If you are unable to apply online, there is the post option. You'll need to fill in the D1 form available in specific post office branches and on the official website then post it to their address, along with your original ID documents, your photo and a £43 cheque or postal order.
Within 3 weeks, you'll receive your provisional license, and your identity documents will be returned separately within the same duration of time. In the meantime, you should be preparing for the theory and practical tests you'll take once you've received the provisional license.
How can you prepare for the theory test?
The test will require proof of your knowledge in these three books:
- The Highway Code.
- Know Your Traffic Signs.
- Driving - The Essential Skills.
You'll find them at your local bookshop or online, and you'll need to take mock exams on the website to familiarize yourself with the test format. When you feel fully prepared to take the test, you can book a session on the DVLA website, enter your provisional licence details, and pay £23 by credit or debit card. They will later contact you with information regarding the following step. Just don't forget your provisional licence card on the day of the exam!
How can you prepare for the practical test?
The primary condition in learning to drive is to be supervised, and you'll have two options to be able to master driving before exam day:
You can either learn with a friend or family member, as long as they meet these requirements:
- They are 21 and older.
- They are qualified to drive the type of vehicle you want to learn on.
- Has had a driving license from the European Economic Area for more than 3 years. However, this option will not allow you to drive on motorways.
The second option is to have a driving instructor certified by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA). This will allow you to practice on motorways.
Whichever option you choose, you must make sure that the car you are practising with is insured for a learner. Make sure you have your two red L bumper stickers for Learner put on the rear and the front of the car, so other drivers know that you're still learning.
The last step will be taking the practical driving test by booking it on the website where you'll fill in your information as well as your instructor's details. After choosing the time and place of the test, you'll be required to pay £62. Instructions will be sent to you about the test's details. Remember to take your theory test result and your provisional licence, or you will not be able to take the test!
Congratulations! You now have a valid student driving license in the UK. Once you get insurance for your vehicle, you're ready to hit the road! Now you'll be putting two green P bumper stickers for Pass on the rear and the front too for the first few weeks so other drivers know that you've just passed.