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.
Driving licences from other countries which are exchangable
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, local vehicle licensing offices or MOT 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 photograph criteria' link below for further details). Send your completed application and the appropriate fee to:Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA)
Coleraine County Hall
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 local vehicle licensing offices, MOT centres, or you can phone DVA on 0845 4024 000.
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 199 - 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:
2 Melville Crescent
60 Buckingham Gate
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.
More useful links
- Driving in Northern Ireland (NI) on a licence issued in a European Economic Area (EEA)country
- Driving on licences from Great Britain, Jersey, Guernsey, Isle Of Man, Gibraltar or DesignatedCountries
- How to tell DVA about a medical condition
- Registering an imported vehicle
- Do you need to take a driving theory test?