Drive in the UK with a UAE License and Conversion Process

can i drive in england with uae license

We will provide a comprehensive guide on how you can legally drive in the UK with a UAE license and the process of converting it to a UK license, if necessary. 

If you intend to drive in the UK with a UAE license, it’s essential to understand the rules and procedures involved.

Driving in the UK with a UAE License

The United Kingdom allows individuals to drive with a foreign license, including those from the United Arab Emirates, under certain conditions.

While a UAE license is valid and generally accepted in the UK, it’s important to note that it is issued in Arabic. This could pose a challenge to local authorities and car rental companies. Therefore, obtaining an International Driving Permit (IDP) from the UAE is highly recommended before travelling to the United Kingdom.

This will ensure smoother interactions with the police and car rental services during your stay.

Driving as a Resident of Great Britain

As a resident of Great Britain, you can drive in the UK with a UAE license for up to 12 months. However, after this period, you are required to exchange your UAE license for a UK one.

To be considered a resident, you must have a permanent address in the UK, where you’ve lived for at least 185 days.

Driving in the UK as a Visitor

If you’re visiting the UK, you can use your UAE license to drive for up to 12 months from the date of your last entry into the country. This applies whether you’re a tourist, visiting family or friends, or on a business trip.

However, it’s important to note that you can only drive the type of vehicle that your UAE license allows. Also, ensure your vehicle meets the UK’s roadworthiness standards, is adequately insured, and has paid the necessary vehicle tax.

Foreign Student Studying in Great Britain

International students studying in the UK can also drive in the UK with a UAE license. Like visitors, you can use your UAE license for up to 12 months from your last entry into the country.

If your course of study extends beyond this period, you must apply for a provisional UK license and pass the UK driving test. It’s also worth noting that if you’re bringing a vehicle from the UAE, you may need to pay import duties and taxes.

Convert UAE License to UK License

If you plan to stay in the UK for over 12 months, you must convert your UAE license to a UK one. This process, known as “exchanging” a license, involves several steps and requirements.

The United Arab Emirates is part of the United Kingdom’s designated countries or territories, which allows UAE license holders to exchange their licenses after 12 months of residency. Importantly, you have up to 5 years from when you became a resident to complete this process. Here’s a detailed guide on how to go about this conversion process.

Eligibility Criteria

Before you begin the process, it’s essential to ensure that you meet the eligibility criteria to exchange your UAE license for a UK one. You must:

  • Be a resident of Great Britain.
  • Meet the minimum age requirement for driving in the UK (17 years for cars and motorcycles, 21 years for buses and lorries)
  • Have a valid or expired license within the last 5 years.
  • Not be disqualified from driving in the UK.

Step-by-Step Guide to the Conversion Process

  1. Application Form: The first step in the process is to complete the application form (D1 form) for a driving license. This form can be downloaded or obtained from the DVLA form ordering service or from a Post Office.
  2. Supporting Documents: Along with the completed application form, you will need to provide a number of supporting documents. These include your current UAE driving license, proof of identity (such as a passport), and proof of residency.
  3. Fee Payment: There is a fee for exchanging your UAE license for a UK one. As of the time of writing, the fee is £43. However, this is subject to change, so checking the current fee on the DVLA website is advisable.
  4. Submission: Once you have completed the form and gathered all the necessary documents, you can submit your application by post to the DVLA. The address is on the D1 form.
  5. Wait for Your License: After submitting your application, you will need to wait for your new UK license to arrive. This usually takes about 3 weeks, but it can take longer if your health or personal details need to be checked.

Remember, driving in the UK with a UAE license is only permissible for a certain period. If you plan to stay in the UK longer, it’s crucial to understand and follow the conversion process to avoid any legal complications.

UK Driving Rules

These are just some of the key rules. It’s crucial to familiarise yourself with all the driving laws and regulations in the UK.

  1. Drive on the Left: In the UK, you must drive on the left-hand side of the road. This is the opposite of many countries, including the UAE, so it can take some getting used to.
  2. Speed Limits: Speed limits vary depending on the type of road and the vehicle you’re driving. In general, the speed limit is 30 mph (48 km/h) in built-up areas, 60 mph (97 km/h) on single carriageways, and 70 mph (112 km/h) on dual carriageways and motorways. Always look for signs indicating the speed limit, as it can change.
  3. Seat Belts: It’s mandatory for the driver and all passengers to wear seat belts if they’re fitted in the vehicle. Children must use the correct car seat for their weight until they are 12 or 135cm tall, whichever comes first.
  4. Drink Driving: The UK has strict drink-driving laws. The legal limit is 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, 35 micrograms per 100 millilitres of breath, or 107 milligrams per 100 millilitres of urine. However, the effects of alcohol can vary between individuals, so the safest advice is to avoid drinking if you plan to drive.
  5. Mobile Phones: Holding a phone or sat nav while driving or riding a motorcycle is illegal. You must have hands-free access, such as a Bluetooth headset, voice command, a dashboard holder or mat, or a windscreen mount.
  6. Traffic Lights: The UK follows the international traffic light system of red for stop, green for go, and amber as a warning signal between the two.
  7. Roundabouts: When reaching a roundabout, vehicles from the right are prioritised. You should signal your intentions clearly and choose the correct lane based on the exit you plan to take.
  8. Zebra Crossings: Drivers must give way to pedestrians who have stepped onto a zebra crossing.
  9. Insurance: It’s a legal requirement to have at least third-party motor insurance before driving a vehicle on the roads in the UK.

As a seasoned driver in the United Arab Emirates, I, Waheed Akhtar, share my experiences and knowledge to help others navigate the roads of this beautiful country safely and confidently.



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