American Expats In The UK

Who must obtain a UK driving license?

GOT QUESTIONS? WE HAVE ANSWERS! - Visit the Driving forum!

Americans are legally allowed to drive in the U.K. for a period of up to twelve months on their U.S. driving license. The 12 month period commences upon the first day of your residency in the U.K. If you will be resident longer than 12 months, you will get to experience the joy of taking both a written (called theory in the UK) and driving (called practical in the UK). Additionally, you must apply for a provisional licence before taking either of these tests. The tests are typically spaced out, too. You cannot take both tests on the same day. See the driving requirements for non-EU citizens on the DVLA site to obtain full details.

Getting a UK Licence

It is highly recommended that you take a few driving lessons if you are going to obtain a UK licence (no spelling is spelled 'licence' in the UK). There are certain manouvers required by law that aren't really required in the US. Also, you will be tested on various aspects of driving and knowing what driving testers look out for will be advantageous! Many people (even experienced US drivers) fail their first tests!

The following is a list of recommended books to help you study for and pass your UK driving license tests (these titles are available for ordering within the UK):

Registering your vehicle a.k.a. "Road Tax" or "Tax Disc"

Every driver must pay to licence their vehicle. This is referred to as road tax and when paid, a tax disc is issued for the vehicle which is displayed in the left side of the windscreen (windshield). This is the equivalent to American license plate tags. You can purchase a tax disc at most Royal Mail Post Offices. However, please be aware that you may require an MOT prior to applying for the disc.


The MOT scheme is primarily a road safety measure designed to ensure that all cars, motorcycles and light goods vehicles more than 3 years old: are properly maintained and; at least once a year are examined at an authorised MOT test station to make sure that they comply with certain important requirements of the law.

Important driving info links

DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) - The DVLA is the equivalent to the U.S. DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles).

(DSA) Driving Standards Agency - The DSA is responsible for conducting driving tests in Great Britain for cars, motorcycles, lorries and buses maintaining a register of car driving instructors and checking their standard of tuition supervising Compulsory Basic Training for motorcyclists
setting and maintaining theory test standards.

BSM* - Where you'll find everything you could possibly need to know about learning to drive from information on applying for your provisional licence to testing your driving knowledge with a Mock Theory Test. * Flash intensive site...may take time to download.

New!British Car Numbers  - an explanation of registration plates for British cars. U.S. equivalent
        is 'license plate'.

New!Importing an American Car Into The UK - Is it worth it? Check it out and see for yourself.

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