Driving licence rule changes could impact some British expats living in Europe after new update

Driving licence rule changes could impact some British expats living in Europe after new update

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Felix Reeves

By Felix Reeves

Published: 23/02/2024

- 14:28

Updated: 27/02/2024

- 09:49

New driving licence rules for expats have been introduced for a number of countries recently

Guidance has been updated for people using their UK driving licence in Latvia, just weeks after major changes were introduced for another popular expat destination.

According to the latest guidance from GOV.UK, people can use their valid UK driving licence until it expires when in Latvia.

To make things easier for expats living in the Eastern European nation, they can also exchange their licence without having to take a test.

Motorists cannot renew or replace their UK, Gibraltar, Jersey, Guernsey or Isle of Man licence if they live permanently in Latvia.

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UK driving licence application

New laws for UK licences have been introduced since Brexit


GOV.UK states that people can use their non-Latvian driving licence for up to 12 months.

If they have lived in Latvia for longer than one year, they must exchange their licence for a Latvian one, supported by their Latvian ID card and medical certificate.

Their new Latvian-issued licence will show the same vehicle categories as their old licence and will show the equivalent categories available.

Anyone looking to visit Latvia for a short period of time will also not be required to have an International Driving Permit (IDP).

People with disabilities who use a Blue Badge for parking in the UK must return it to the original issuing authority if they live in Latvia.

Drivers have six months since the start of their residency in Latvia to ensure they register their car and change it so it is suitable for left-hand driving.

If someone returns to the UK with their newly issued Latvian licence, they can use it on UK roads, although the Government suggests keeping up-to-date with the Highway Code.

The new guidance for expats follows the introduction of rules for expats living in Portugal which were introduced on December 31.

Until the end of 2023, people with a driving licence issued by the DVLA (or DVA in Northern Ireland) were able to continue driving in Portugal, with residents needing to register their licence with the Portuguese authorities within 60 days of their residence certificate.

Under new rules, British expats living in Portugal can continue to drive in Portugal on their current licence until it expires, provided they have registered their licence with the Institute for Mobility and Transport (IMT).

Expats can also exchange their licence for a Portuguese one without needing to take a driving test.

Drivers must register with the IMT within 60 days of the issue date on their residence certificate, or immediately if they have already been in Portugal for more than 60 days.


Traffic in Riga

GOV.UK unveiled the new update earlier today


Drivers living in Europe are urged to keep an eye on the GOV.UK website to ensure they stay updated on new law changes in their country that could affect their licence.

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