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Exchanging your foreign driving licence

If you are the holder of a foreign driving licence and you want or need to change to a Northern Ireland (NI) driving licence there are certain conditions that need to be considered when applying.

Be alert to unofficial websites offering online driver licensing. You cannot apply for a Northern Ireland driving licence online.

Driving licences from other countries which are exchangeable

Northern Ireland will exchange Community driving licences issued by the following European Economic Area (EEA) member states on a like for like basis -

United Kingdom (including Jersey, Guernsey and Isle Of Man)

Austria                      Finland             Latvia                        Portugal

Belgium                    France              Liechtenstein           Romania

Bulgaria                    Germany          Lithuania                   Slovakia

Croatia                      Greece            Luxembourg              Slovenia

Cyprus                      Hungary            Malta                          Spain  

Czech Republic       Iceland             Netherlands              Sweden

Denmark                    Ireland             Norway

Estonia                      Italy                    Poland

Northern Ireland (NI) will also exchange the equivalent of Category B (car) and Category A (motorcycle) driving licences issued by Gibraltar and 15 designated countries. The designated countries are:

Australia                                           Faroe Islands*               Republic of Korea*

Barbados                                         Hong Kong                     Singapore

British Virgin Islands                       Japan                              South Africa

Provinces and                                  New Zealand                  Switzerland
Territories of Canada

Falkland Islands                               Monaco                           Zimbabwe

* Motorcycle entitlement from the Republic of Korea and Faroe Islands is not exchangeable.

Applying for the exchange of your foreign driving licence

If you want or need to change your driving licence for a NI driving licence, you must complete the application form DL1 that is available from the main Post Office® branches or MOT test centres.

You will need to enclose original documentation confirming your identity, a passport style colour photograph and appropriate proof of residency (see 'identity documents and photographs' link below for further details). Send your completed application and the appropriate fee to:

Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA)
Driver Licensing
Coleraine County Hall
Castlerock Road
Waterside
Coleraine
BT51 3TB

If your vocational licence was issued in a European Economic Area (EEA) country you need only submit a medical report form if, on exchange, you are 45 years of age or over. This applies even if your vocational licence is still current. Medical form DLM1 is available from MOT test centres, or you can phone DVA on 0845 402 4000.

Rules for exchange

The following conditions must be met before a licence can be granted in exchange for a NI one:

  • you must be normally resident in NI and have a permanent address here
  • if you are a community driving licence holder applying for a NI driving test at the same time as exchanging your licence, you must have been resident in NI for at least six months prior to taking your test
  • licences from the designated countries must be current at the time the application for exchange is received by DVA. If your driving test was not passed in the designated country that issued your current driving licence you may not be able to exchange, please contact DVA for advice
  • licences from the designated countries must be exchanged within five years of being resident in NI
  • DVA do not exchange any bus or lorry entitlements from licences issued in a designated country. This also applies if you passed any lorry/bus tests in a designated country
  • licences from the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands are acceptable for exchange if issued after 1 April 1991 - those issued in any EEA country may be valid for exchange even if they have expired but must be supported by a Letter of Entitlement from the issuing authority which they have obtained within the last two months
  • when exchanging a licence from a designated country in order to obtain a NI driving licence which confers entitlement to drive vehicles with manual transmission, DVA must be satisfied that the driving test was passed in a vehicle with manual transmission - otherwise the NI licence will be restricted to vehicles with automatic transmission
  • you must surrender your foreign licence which will be returned to the issuing authority
  • international driving permits are not exchangeable
  • test pass certificates are not exchangeable except for those issued in Great Britain or Gibraltar when the test was passed within two years of the date of the licence application
  • Japanese licences must be accompanied by an official translation, available for a fee from the:
  • Consulate General of Japan
    101-104 Piccadilly
    London
    W1J 7JT
  • or
  • Consulate General of Japan
    2 Melville Crescent
    Edinburgh
    EH3 7HW
  • Republic of Korean licences must also be accompanied by an official translation, available for a fee from the:
  • Embassy of the Republic of Korea
    60 Buckingham Gate
    London
    SW1E 6AJ
  • motorcycle licences from the Republic of Korea and Faroe Islands are not exchangeable

Return of supporting documents

The driving licence fee includes return of your supporting documents (where applicable) by second class post. If you would like your supporting documents returned by secure delivery, please supply an appropriate pre-paid special delivery envelope.

Please Note – DVA will not provide compensation for any loss or delay resulting from the use of second class post.

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