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American Driving Licenses should be accepted in UK

Comment 3rd July 2010


I currently live, work and pay tax in the UK. I have done so for the last 6 years – first as a student and now as the spouse of an Englishman. Both my husband and I are educated to a postgraduate level and contribute to the higher band of income tax.

As it now stands, because I am from the united States (and not a former Commonwealth or EU nation), I am unable to convert my driving license to a UK license as persons from Canada, Greece, and Australia may do. In order to drive in the UK I must re-take the theory and practical exams despite having driven for 14 years without a single point on my license.

When I wrote to the Department for Transport, the message I received from Paul Clark was:

"For countries outside the European Union, a Designation Order needs to be in place to convert the foreign license to a UK issued one. There is no such Order in place for driving licenses from the USA, as the driving test and licensing procedures are not comparable to our own."

I feel that the USA is certainly comparable to all countries in the former Commonwealth and Europe. Driving regulations are actually quite stringent in the USA and can easily be considered more or as strict as the Ukraine and Namibia.

Considering that many African and Eastern European citizens carry fraudulent documents as a matter of course, i cannot understand this argument. For example, in Nigeria it is commonplace to forge documents (such as university qualifications) but driving licenses from Nigeria would be allowed under this regulation.

I am simply trying to live my life to the best of my ability and do not see why I should need to retake my driving exams just because I choose to live with my husband in the UK.

Leila Lacrosse


Blog: The American Baby Plan in London

Why does this matter?


This issue should be important to you for many reasons:

I believe this regulation to be a breech of my human rights. I happen to work in UK HE and I know that it is against a person's human rights to discriminate against any foreign earned qualification. I believe that driving licenses should be classified as foreign earned qualifications. 

Currently, because the Department for Transport is using 'EU and former Commonwealth' nationality as a guideline for countries whose licenses can be converted they are using immigration criterion for a non-immigration issue, which is unjust.

Finally, the current number of US citizens living in the UK is above 33,000. American's contribute hugely to the tourism industry here and attend British Universities, paying the higher International fees tariff. With the new Post Study Work Scheme available, many American graduates from UK universities will be living and working – and paying tax – in the UK. Allowing them to drive in the country in which they live seems not only fair but quite reasonable.

Leila Lacrosse


Blog: The American Baby Plan in London

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