Migrants’ access to UK driving licences

During my time as a freelance courier, many of my colleagues came from oversees and it is clear to me that there is an appetite from migrants to find work in the courier industry. For this reason, I have included this post, which was originally published, by the government in 2010.

It clearly outlines government thinking regarding how migrants can keep on the right side of the law, when it comes to driving in the UK.

Immigration Bill

Immigration Minister – Mark Harper:
“The government is determined to build a fairer system and address public concern about immigration.
“It has previously been too easy for those here illegally to hold a UK driving licence and use it not only for driving, but as a piece of identification to help them access benefits, services and employment to which they are not entitled.
“It is already government policy only to issue driving licences to legal residents. The Immigration Bill will reaffirm this position and make it possible, for the first time, to revoke licences held by those with no right to be here.
“The ability to obtain and hold a UK driving licence is a privilege and one that only lawful immigrants and citizens should be able to benefit from.”


Non-EEA nationals can drive in the UK on a full driving licence issued in their home
country for up to 12 months before needing to obtain a UK licence.1
In 2010 the government changed the policy on the issuing of UK driving licences, restricting driving licences for non-EEA nationals to only those with more than 6 months leave.
This change prevented illegal migrants from obtaining driving licences. Over 3,000
applications for licences are rejected every year on these grounds. The Bill will give
this change the force of primary legislation. It will also allow us, for the first time, to
revoke the driving licences of overstayers.

UK driving licences are often used by banks and business as a means of
establishing someone’s identity. Through this, illegal migrants could access services
such as rented accommodation and financial services, helping them to establish a
settled lifestyle in the UK, even though they have no right to be here.

What we are going to do:

  • Ensure that only those migrants lawfully resident in the UK can obtain a full or
    provisional UK driving licence;
  • For the first time, create powers in law enabling the government to revoke the
    driving licence of a person here unlawfully.

How we are going to do it:

  • Give legislative force to tougher immigration checks first introduced into the
    driving licence application process in 20102, by requiring applicants to
    demonstrate they are lawfully resident in the UK before a new full or
    provisional UK driving licence can be issued;
  • Inform migrants that if they fail to abide by our laws, are here illegally or do
    not comply with the immigration process, any driving licence they hold may be
    revoked; and
  • Set out clearly the dire consequences for illegal immigrants who continue to
    drive after their licence is revoked. They will be liable for prosecution for
    failure to surrender a licence; will be liable for prosecution if caught driving;
    face losing any vehicle they have and face detention and swift removal under
    immigration powers. Illegal migrants will understand that any convictions will
    be taken into consideration by the Home Office where they apply to stay here
    or return here in the future.

The Bill will benefit:

  • The lawfully resident population as a whole. The UK will be less attractive and
    less accommodating to those in the UK unlawfully.


Can a migrant who has had his or her licence revoked apply for a new licence?

Yes, after regularising his or her immigration status and paying the prescribed fee for
a new driving licence.

Is there a risk that drivers will continue to drive unlicensed and uninsured?

Illegal migrants will normally want to evade detection. Driving uninsured will mean
that they run the real risk of bringing themselves to the immediate attention of the
Home Office Immigration Enforcement teams. Where the police stop a vehicle or
driver, they will routinely make a check with the Home Office and can do so 24 hours
a day, seven days a week and 365 days of the year. In such circumstances, the
migrant can expect to be detained and removed under immigration powers.

Until an initial evaluation has been completed, the Home Office will limit the number
of revocation referrals it makes to the DVLA and DVA under this proposal.

Further reading

See statement to the House of Commons made on 25 March 2010 with details of the
policy change: House of Commons, Official Report, 25 March 2010,

Parliament Publications

For details of whether you can drive in Great Britain with a non-GB licence, see
2-House of Commons, Official Report, 25 March 2010, Vol 508, Part No 64, col 66WS
In Great Britain licences are administered by DVLA and in Northern Ireland they are administered by

Freelance Courier/Owner-Driver - Driving For Profit

Categories Driving Law

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