Driving in London with US License

Can You Drive In London With US License?

If you wish to drive in the UK, you can drive any small vehicle (e.g. car or motorcycle) listed on your full and valid US license for 12 months from when you last entered Great Britain. If you have a license for bus or lorry, then you can drive them even if they are registered outside Great Britain. In the UK, tourists generally use their valid driving license issued in their own country for up to a year while in the UK. For a year, you won’t need an international driving permit in addition to your license which should be printed in English.

In order to drive in London with US license, you need to make sure that you meet the minimum age requirements. You need to be at least 17years old to drive a motorcar or motorcycle and 21 years of age for driving lorry and bus. Perhaps, you are also legally required to have valid car insurance in the UK, even if you want to drive occasionally or for a short period of time. Those hiring a car do not need to take out their own insurance cover as it is included in the rental costs.

Required Documents:
  • Full and valid driving license
  • Proof of insurance
  • Proof of ID (passport)
  • Breakdown cover

Provisional UK Driving Licence

If your driving license is from the US, then you cannot exchange it for a UK one. Instead, you need to apply for a provisional UK driving license. Along with this, you need to pass a theory and practical test. Until you do this, you will not be able to drive in London. Once you have passed the tests, you will be free to drive in the UK for as long as you may wish.

Benefits on obtaining a UK Driving Licence
  • It serves as a proof of identity in the UK
  • It offers cheaper insurance
  • A few jobs demand a UK license

You can also check out the UK Government’s advice on driving in Britain on a non-GB licence.

What is an IDP?

The International Driving Permit often called the IDP is an official document that successfully validates your driving license internationally. In fact, it is a globally recognized document that carries a passport-sized photo of you and a translation of your own, local drivers license in ten different languages besides English – Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Swedish. It is a recognized form of identification in 174 countries, many of which don’t recognize US or other national driver’s licenses as valid driver identification.

Requirements to Get IDP

  • You must be aged 18 or over
  • You need to present 2 colors, passport-sized photographs signed on the back
  • Original valid driver’s license if you are applying in person or a signed photocopy of both sides if applying by post.
  • Payment of a small fee – currently $20 (as of May 2018) through authorized US motoring organizations plus the cost of expedited shipping if you are in a hurry. 

The fee is payable by US dollar check or money order.

You can only apply for an IDP in the country where you are licensed to drive. 


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