Driving on licences from Great Britain, Jersey, Guernsey, Isle Of Man, Gibraltar or Designated Countries
If you are a visitor or resident in Northern Ireland (NI) and still have a driving licence issued in the country you have come from, there are certain conditions that affect how long you can drive and what you can drive in Northern Ireland.
You can exchange a full Great Britain (GB) driving licence for a full NI licence, or you can use your licence here until it runs out. When your licence expires you may apply for a NI licence. A Great Britain ordinary licence may be exchanged provided it was issued on or after 1 January 1976.
A vocational licence may be exchanged if issued on or after 1 April 1986. You may take a driving test in Northern Ireland using your Great Britain provisional or full licence if this gives the appropriate entitlement. Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA) cannot register an address in Northern Ireland on to a GB licence.
Mutual recognition of driving disqualifications
Since 11 October 2004 there has been mutual recognition between NI and GB of driving disqualifications. This allows:
- recognition in NI of disqualifications which were imposed under GB jurisdiction
- endorsement of NI counterparts issued to GB licence holders; a GB driving licence holder may apply for a NI counterpart by completing form D9 (available from the DVLA); this can be kept with their GB licence and will allow them to avail themselves of the Fixed Penalty Scheme for certain types of offence
- revocation of a GB licence in conformity with the Road Traffic (New Drivers) (NI Order) 1998
- revocation of a GB licence on grounds of disability and prospective disability
Reciprocal provisions came into force in Great Britain at the same time as those made in Northern Ireland.
Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man
If you are a visitor in Northern Ireland (NI) - and provided your full ordinary licence remains valid - you can drive any category of vehicle shown on your licence for 12 months.
If you are the holder of a vocational licence, you can drive NI registered, or vehicles registered outside NI that you have driven into the country, for a period up to 12 months. If your vocational licence was issued in Guernsey you can drive temporarily imported vehicles only.
If you are resident in NI and the holder of an ordinary driving licence, you may drive for up to 12 months from the time you became resident. To continue driving after that time your licence must be exchanged for the NI equivalent.
A licence from Jersey, Guernsey or the Isle of Man can be exchanged for a NI one provided it has been issued on or after 1 April 1991. If you are the holder of a vocational licence, you may drive for 12 months and may exchange your vocational entitlement for the NI equivalent.
Mutual Recognition - Isle of Man
Since 23 May 2005 mutual recognition of driving disqualifications between Northern Ireland (NI) and Great Britain (GB) was extended to include the Isle of Man (IoM).
This means that drivers who are disqualified from holding a driving licence in NI or GB on or after 23 May 2005 will also be disqualified from driving, holding or obtaining a driving licence in the Isle of Man. Similarly, if a court in the Isle of Man disqualifies a driver from driving they will also be disqualified from driving in NI or GB until the disqualification has ended.
Mutual recognition between NI or GB and IoM will only be in relation to driving disqualifications. The New Drivers Act Order and fixed penalties will not be included.
Gibraltar and designated countries
Northern Ireland (NI) will exchange licences issued by Gibraltar and 15 designated countries. The designated countries are: Australia, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Provinces and Territories of Canada, Falkland Islands, Faroe Islands*, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Monaco, Republic of Korea*, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland and Zimbabwe.
If you are a visitor in NI and hold full ordinary entitlement, you can drive any category of vehicle, up to 3.5 tonnes and with up to eight passenger seats, shown on your licence for up to 12 months from the date you last entered NI. This is whether or not you brought the vehicle into NI.
If you also hold full entitlement to drive large lorries or buses you are only allowed to drive large vehicles registered outside the NI that you have driven into the country. If you are resident in NI and provided your full licence remains valid, you can drive small vehicles for 12 months from the time you became resident.
To ensure continuous driving entitlement a NI licence must be obtained before this period elapses, by exchanging your licence for a NI one. If you do not do this you must stop driving although you may apply to exchange your licence at any time within five years of becoming resident.
* Motorcycle entitlement from the Republic of Korea and Faroe Islands is not exchangeable.
Vocational designated licence holders
New residents may not drive medium or large vehicles or passenger carrying vehicles until they have passed the relevant NI driving test. Gibraltar vocational licence holders can drive for 12 months and can exchange a valid vocational licence within five years of date of residency.