Note: This entry has been restored from old archives.
This is a log of my experience transferring my Australian driving license over to a UK license. You can drive on an Australian license in the UK for up to a year – I’ve been a UK resident for two years now. Unlike most reports of dealing with British bureaucracy, this is a happy one: thirty minutes to fill in a form, a £50 cheque, £9.60 of postage, 8 days pass, and I have a license. I can hardly believe it!
13:45 Wednesday April 16th 2008: I’ve just posted my license transfer documentation to the DVLA. You can pick up the required form (D1) from any UK post office, or order it online from the DVLA site (“D1 Pack.”)
Until recently you needed someone to sign the back of your photo, this person had to be a UK citizen and someone “reliable” who’s known you for at least 2 years (the details are all on this page – I do know people who qualify, but don’t see them often enough to remember to bring along forms for them to sign!) The only way around this was to visit a DVLA office to have your documents processed, however DVLA offices are few and far between – there are none in central London! My closest one is 1.5 hours of public transport away.
Today I picked up a fresh form and was delighted to note that you no longer need the photo signed if you send them a current passport. (At this time the last link above hasn’t been updated to reflect this and still indicates that only a UK/EC/EEA passport is good enough to avoid the signing requirement.) However you can’t have your non-UK passport verified at the post office using the “premium checking service,” so it means popping your passport and your Australian license in the post! Not something I’m comfortable with, but it does make the transfer easier to deal with. So I’m going to have to go without any photo-identification for a short while (up to 3 weeks.)
Filling out the form is straight-forward, no special details are required. You attach your photo and pop it into an envelope with your Australian license, passport, and a cheque for £50. The payment must be by personal cheque or postal cheque. (A postal cheque will cost about £4.50 extra, but most UK banks issue cheque books with current accounts so you can probably avoid that.) Interestingly, there is no requirement for proof-of-address documentation.
Because you’re putting your passport and license in the post you’re advised to use “special delivery” (registered post.) Also, because the DVLA will otherwise use normal 2nd-class post to return your passport you’re advised to enclose an additional self-addressed “special delivery” envelope. All up the postage cost me £9.20.
The form claims my passport will be sent back within 10 working days (2 weeks) and that, all going well, I should receive my license within 15 working days (3 weeks.) So, now I wait and see, I’ll continue this entry when the next license-application event occurs…
10:15 Thursday April 24th 2008: Licensed already! My UK photocard license arrived in the post just now, before 10:00. So, that’s basically a week. My license is valid until 2050 – none of this renewing every 5 years crap we put up with in Australia, you only need to renew once you turn 70. I had a normal NSW drivers license, suitable for standard vehicles with trailers up to some limit (can’t recall the limit.) My UK license covers the same (up to 3500kg and 8 passenger seats, trailer up to 750kg) but also explicitly covers quads/trikes less than 550kg, mopeds, agricultural tractors, and “mowing machine or vehicle controlled by a pedestrian.” License for a lawnmower?! Eh? A provisional license for motorcycles, “road rollers,” and “tracked vehicles” is also included, also valid until 2050.
There’s one really annoying thing about UK licenses though. There’s a “counterpart”, this is an A4 sheet of paper with additional details on it. The annoying part is “The photocard and paper counterpart should be kept together. Both must be produced when required.” It seems a bit insane really! In other words, just carrying your license card in your wallet isn’t good enough to drive, you need an A4 sheet of paper too. The sheet includes some extra data, namely a record of any driving offences you’ve committed or upgrades to your licensed vehicle categories. Anyway, to make this practical I’m now going to fold this A4 sheet up to an A8 size, so it can fit in my wallet! This makes my wallet fatter, which I hate.
Now I’m just worried that my passport hasn’t been returned yet. However the Royal Mail site tells me it is on the way (thanks to my provision of a special delivery envelope.) Reassuring!
11:41 Thursday April 24th 2008: I’m not the only one with driving licenses on the mind at the moment. All I can say is that I’m glad I got my license back in the good old days too (one theory test, one practical test, one year on “P plates”, then full license.) Australia always seems to be a bit “legislate first, ask questions later.” I heard recently that they’ve decriminalised Roquefort cheese at least, this actually happened in 2005, but I didn’t hear about it until mum mentioned it to me on Monday (yeah, I know “decriminalised” is probably a bit strong.) The insanity is that only Roquefort is decriminalised, no other unpasteurised-milk cheeses. It reminds me of the parents I see who have their children on leashes. Some days I have a strong desire to turn anarchist.
17:06 Thursday April 24th 2008: Royal mail special delivery envelope picked up from the concierge. Inside my passport and a note: “Your application for a driving license is being dealt with.” Somewhat amusing considering that the license has already been received.