09 September 2015

How to swap an Australian licence for a UK licence

I could be anyone right now and you would never know. I don't have any 'official' proof that I am who I claim I am. I could be anyone...

On Monday I handed in my Passport and my Australian drivers licence to the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency), the UK government agency in charge of all things licences and the final word on whether you are allowed to grace the UK streets in a car and not be eternally reliant on buses, trains and other modes of public transport. Unfortunately you can no longer go in to your 'local' DVLA and have them process your application over the counter (a few years ago you could), now all you can do is send off your application, passport and licence to a processing centre in Swansea and hope that it doesn't get lost in the mail. Tracked or not, it can happen. Why oh why dont they accept copies of passport certified by your embassy??

So for all you Aussies out there wanting to exchange your Aussie licence for a UK one, here is a step-by-step guide to applying for a UK licence.

  1. Order the application form.
  2. Go the 'Exchange a foreign driving licence' page and go through the small questionnaire. Generally speaking, if you are Australian and have a car or motorbike licence, it tells you that you need to request a D1 Pack (Its an application form with some additional info - its for a driving licence for a car, moped or motorcycle) and links you through to the DVLA order form page. Pop in your details and the form will be on its way to you in a couple of days.
  3. While you're waiting for the form to arrive, get a passport photo.
  4. There are loads of photo booths or you can stop at a photo shop like Snappy Snaps who can do it too. As you will be mailing through your passport with your application, you DO NOT need to have a witness sign the back of the photo. Make sure your photo adheres to the official guidelines.
  5. Fill in your application when it arrives with all the relevant details.
  6. Make sure you select 'To exchange my non-UK licence for a GB licence'. Don't forget to include your passport number in the proof of identity section!
  7. Take copies of everything!
  8. I photo copied and scanned my passport photo page, UK visa page, front and back of my drivers licence, and the application. Its not a requirement for the application, but it'll give you *some* peace of mind when you are without ID.
  9. Now you need to mail it all to the DVLA.
    • Take your application, passport, drivers licence and application (with the photo!) to a post office. Best to go to one that deals with licences (UK ones) as they are more likely to have staff that understand the process.
    • Take cash or make sure you have a normal (non-credit card) bank card with you as the teller can process a withdrawal for the amount.
    • Buy buy a cashiers cheque to the value of the licence fee, for me it was £43. A cashiers cheque is kind of like a money order and there is a £5.38 fee to buy one.
    • Ask at the counter for the special delivery envelopes, they are silvery/grey in colour, and have a tracking number. You'll need to buy two (at £6.45 each including weight of documents). Write your address in the 'To' field on one envelope and the DVLA address on the other. The DVLA address simply is "DVLA, Swansea" plus the post code that corresponds to your fee, in my case it was SA99 1BT.
    • Tuck your passport, drivers licence, application, cashiers cheque and envelope with your address on it in the envelope to the DVLA, seal, send and you're done!
    • The total? I ended up paying £61.28 pounds in costs for the application.
  10. Waiting time.
  11. The DVLA quotes about 3 weeks to process, I've allowed 6...you just never know what can happen. I'll post back once I receive it. Also, you won't get your Australian drivers licence back. But if you do go home, you can drive on your UK licence as a visitor without needing an international licence. See this site for links to state specific rules. Here is the one for NSW.
If you have any questions, or think anything is missing or incorrect in this guide, do let me know!

Have you exchanged your licence? What was your experience like?


  1. Mine took about 4 weeks, but that is only because I sent it off then they had to send it back...
    It was my first time sending a cheque (you get a cheque book with Lloyds) and I forgot to sign it! haha

    1. Ah, so you can do personal cheques?! Not that i have a cheque book, but good to know. I hope mine doesnt take that long, fingers crossed! Did you feel a bit weird without your ID?

  2. I'll vouch that you're a blogger - that's plenty enough ID for mischief!

    1. Brilliant! Its all sorted then :)