Advice on foreign driving licences in Northern Ireland

If you are a visitor, resident or student in Northern Ireland and still have a driving licence issued by 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.

Visitors

Provided your full licence or international driving permit remains valid, you may drive vehicles up to 3.5 tonnes and with up to eight passenger seats for up to 12 months from the date of coming to NI.

However, you may only drive large vehicles which have been registered outside NI and which you have driven into the country.

Residents

If you are the holder of an ordinary driving licence (car, moped, motorcycle entitlement) and provided your licence remains valid, you can drive any category of small vehicle shown on your licence for up to 12 months from the time you became resident.

To ensure continuous full driving entitlement you must obtain a provisional NI licence and pass a driving test(s) before the 12 month period elapses.

Up until 12 months you are not subject to normal provisional licence conditions, for example; displaying 'L' plates, being supervised by a qualified driver or not being allowed on motorways.

If you don’t pass a test before the 12 month concessionary period has elapsed, you will lose entitlement to drive as a full licence holder. The normal provisional licence conditions will apply, and you will have a restricted period of one year from the date you pass your driving test.

New residents who hold a vocational licence (minibus, bus, lorry entitlement), must not drive large vehicles until they have passed the relevant NI driving test. Driving test candidates are required to pass a motor car (category B) test first before applying for provisional entitlement for larger vehicles.

Driving in NI as a student

If you are a student holding a community licence you may drive cars and motorcycles in NI for as long as your licence remains valid.

If you are a student holding a non-community licence or an international driving permit you may drive here for up to 12 months.

If you hold a driving licence from a designated country you may apply to exchange it for a NI one up to five years after becoming a resident here.

If you do not hold a licence you will need to apply for a provisional licence and pass a driving test. You will be able to take a test and obtain a full licence once you have been in NI for six months.

International driving permits

Valid international driving permits, also known as convention permits, must comply with the formats prescribed in international legislation. Permits must be in booklet form, with white inside pages translated into multiple languages.

International driving licences

Neither the United Nations nor any of its subsidiary bodies issues or authorises the issue of international driver licences. An international driving licence is not valid proof of driving entitlement in NI.

More useful links

Share this page

What do you want to do?
What is your question about?
Do you want a reply?
Your email address
To reply to you, we need your email address
Your feedback

We will not reply to your feedback.  Don't include any personal or financial information, for example National Insurance, credit card numbers, or phone numbers.

This feedback form is for issues with the nidirect website only.

You can use it to report a problem or suggest an improvement to a webpage.

If you have a question about a government service or policy, you should contact the relevant government organisation directly as we don’t have access to information about you held by government departments.

You must be aged 13 years or older - if you’re younger, ask someone with parental responsibility to send the feedback for you.

The nidirect privacy notice applies to any information you send on this feedback form.

Don't include any personal or financial information, for example National Insurance, credit card numbers, or phone numbers.

Plain text only, 750 characters maximum.
Plain text only, 750 characters maximum.

What to do next

Comments or queries about angling can be emailed to anglingcorrespondence@daera-ni.gov.uk 

What to do next

If you have a comment or query about benefits, you will need to contact the government department or agency which handles that benefit.  Contacts for common benefits are listed below.

Carer's Allowance

Call 0800 587 0912
Email 
dcs.incomingpostteamdhc2@nissa.gsi.gov.uk

Discretionary support / Short-term benefit advance

Call 0800 587 2750 
Email 
customerservice.unit@communities-ni.gov.uk

Disability Living Allowance

Call 0800 587 0912 
Email dcs.incomingpostteamdhc2@nissa.gsi.gov.uk

Employment and Support Allowance

Call 0800 587 1377

Jobseeker’s Allowance

Contact your local Jobs & Benefits office

Personal Independence Payment

Call 0800 587 0932

If your query is about another benefit, select ‘Other’ from the drop-down menu above.

What to do next

Comments or queries about the Blue Badge scheme can be emailed to bluebadges@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk or you can also call 0300 200 7818.

What to do next

For queries or advice about careers, contact the Careers Service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about Child Maintenance, contact the Child Maintenance Service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about claiming compensation due to a road problem, contact DFI Roads claim unit.

What to do next

For queries or advice about criminal record checks, email ani@accessni.gov.uk

What to do next

Application and payment queries can be emailed to ema_ni@slc.co.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about employment rights, contact the Labour Relations Agency.

What to do next

For queries or advice about birth, death, marriage and civil partnership certificates and research, contact the General Register Office Northern Ireland (GRONI) by email gro_nisra@finance-ni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries about:

If your query is about another topic, select ‘Other’ from the drop-down menu above.

What to do next

For queries or advice about passports, contact HM Passport Office.

What to do next

For queries or advice about Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs), including parking tickets and bus lane PCNs, email dcu@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about pensions, contact the Northern Ireland Pension Centre.

What to do next

If you wish to report a problem with a road or street you can do so online in this section.

If you wish to check on a problem or fault you have already reported, contact DfI Roads.

What to do next

For queries or advice about historical, social or cultural records relating to Northern Ireland, use the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) enquiry service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about rates, email LPSCustomerTeam@lpsni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about  60+ and Senior Citizen SmartPasses (which can be used to get concessionary travel on public transport), contact Smartpass - Translink.