GBR, Jersey, Guernsey, IOM, Gibraltar driving licences

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 NI.

Great Britain

You can exchange a full Great Britain (GB) driving licence, issued on or after 1 January 1976 for a full Northern Ireland (NI) licence, or you can use your licence here until it runs out. When your licence is due to expire (run out) you may apply for a NI licence.

A vocational licence may be exchanged if issued on or after 1 April 1986.

You may take a driving test in NI using your GB licence if this gives the appropriate provisional entitlement.

If you have provisional entitlement to drive goods vehicles or passenger-carrying vehicles, you must provide proof of these entitlements if you wish to exchange them. You can get proof of provisional entitlement from DVLA at:

You may also be asked to get and provide to DVA a code permitting access to your GB driver record.

Mutual recognition of driving disqualifications

There is 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 to NI - and provided your full ordinary licence remains valid - you can drive any category of vehicle shown on your licence for up to 12 months from the time you become resident. To continue driving after this time your licence must be exchanged for the NI equivalent.

If your vocational licence was issued in Guernsey you are only allowed to drive large vehicles registered outside NI that have been driven into the country.  

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 of driving disqualifications

The mutual recognition of driving disqualifications between NI and GB extends 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 IoM. Similarly, if a court in the IoM 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

Northern Ireland will exchange licences issued by Gibraltar.

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.

For continuous driving entitlement you must apply for a NI licence before this period elapses. If you do not do this you must stop driving, although you may still exchange your licence within five years of becoming resident.

Gibraltar vocational licence holders

Gibraltar vocational licence holders can drive for 12 months and can exchange a valid vocational licence within five years of date of residency.

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