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Getting your Driving License as a Foreigner in the UK: Top 5 Tips

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When I first got into the UK on a Tier 4 visa when I was a study abroad student in London, I needed to get my UK driving license by the end of the summer, as that would have been a year since I had been in the country (any longer and my American license would have been invalid to drive on).

By this point I had been driving on my own for months, but honestly it was more of a “try not to close my eyes and scream while passing someone” kind of driving rather than a confident kind.

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6 thoughts on “Getting your Driving License as a Foreigner in the UK: Top 5 Tips”

  1. When I lived in NYC I had to sit the “alcoholic” class which was supposed to make me aware of the dangers of drink driving.

    It was a bit of an eye opener, we had mainly expat foreigners who were fairly clued up, and a couple of 16 year olds who thought it was funny to talk about how they could drink loads and still drive straight. Scary! We don’t do anything like those classes here in the UK – perhaps the culture of drink driving is more socially unacceptable here?

    Ps well done on passing 😉

    1. Ah, yes, I didn’t even realize that was unique to the States. From what I can remember, I had to take a “drug and alcohol” course online before I could even take the written driving test in Florida. I think you’re right about why–either that or America is just bigger on ‘policing’ instead of trusting that people know that it’s the wrong thing to do.

      Thanks 🙂

    2. I am quite confused. So for example when I go to uni, I’ll be 17 so I can’t technically learn how to drive from where I’m from, Hong Kong as the age limit is 18. So can I apply to learn how to drive in the UK even though I do not hold a British citizenship nor passport? Ty;0)

  2. I moved to the UK at the end of August and I was searching tags for other American’s living in the UK and found your blog. My husband let me drive in a parking lot two weeks after I got here and I have to say it was so overwhelming that I feel really discouraged about trying to drive again. Driving a stick isn’t a problem, but more of spacial awareness and making sure I’m on the left side of the road. I know I’ll get out there and try it again soon and eventually get the hang of it, but I just wanted to say your post is very informative! When it’s time for me to begin the process of getting my UK license I’ll now have an idea of where to begin!

    1. Oh, good! Really glad I could help! Just for the record, I completely know what you mean. My boyfriend literally said to me in a huff that I had “no spatial awareness” and it was really difficult for me to explain how different it felt driving on the other side of the road. So just in case you needed any more reassurance–just stick with it and try again and it’ll get easier and easier to adjust. I don’t even think about it anymore–it’s become so natural. Good luck on everything, hope you’re enjoying the UK!

  3. How did you get a Government ID code? It won’t let me apply for my provisional licence without one, and it won’t let me apply for the Government Gateway because I can’t give 3 months worth of last addresses? Any advice would be great, thanks!

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