Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 2 August 2014

Tough new rules on foreign drivers

New rules have been introduced to stop non-EU drivers swapping their licences without proving they meet UK standards

Tough new rules on just which foreign drivers can get a British licence have been announced by the Government.

The new regulations close a loophole under which some non-EU drivers were able to exchange their licence without proving they had met UK standards.

EU driving licence holders have no need to get a British licence as all driving licences allow holders to take to the roads anywhere in the EU.

This does not apply to drivers outside Europe. But arrangements are in place with 15 countries, including Australia, Canada and South Africa, that allow drivers to exchange their licences for a British one.

However, until now some drivers were able to exchange a licence with one of these 15 "approved" countries and then swap it for a British one.

This meant the British Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency could not be sure that drivers had met the appropriate standards to driving in Britain before exchanging their licence.

The change in law means requests to exchange driving licences from outside the EU will only be accepted if licence holders can prove they passed a driving test in a country where the testing standards are comparable with those in Britain.

Road Safety Minister Stephen Hammond said: "The UK's roads are amongst the safest in the world, thanks in part to the rigorous standards demanded by our driving test.

"By closing this loophole we will not only make Britain's roads even safer, but will help tackle fraud and level the playing field for British drivers who spend time and money learning to drive at the standard required in the UK."

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