Car insurance for non-UK residents

Can you get car insurance in the UK if you live abroad? And do you need to swap your international driving licence for a UK one? For the answer to this and more, read on.

Daniel Hutson From the Motor team
minute read

I’m coming to live in the UK. Can I get car insurance?

If you’re moving to the UK to work or study, you might want to buy a car. If so, you’ll need to follow UK rules, meaning your car must be:

  • registered in your own name
  •  taxed
  •  insured
  •  have a valid MOT

Once that’s in place, you should have the same insurance options as UK residents. You can either go for fully comprehensive car insurance, which offers the most complete cover, or third party insurance.

Should I change my foreign licence for a UK one?

If you have a foreign driving licence and you’re coming to stay in the UK, it might be worth changing it to a UK licence. There are a couple of advantages to this:

  •  Having a UK licence could mean you pay less for your car insurance
  • You can use your UK driving licence as ID

If you’re staying in the UK for more than a year, you’ll need to have a UK licence to drive, by law. If you’re here for 12 months or less, you’re free to drive any small vehicle – such as a car or motorbike – on your international licence.

Swapping your international licence for a UK one is fairly easy. You won’t need to take another test –just fill in the online form at and pay a fee.

Do I need an international driving permit?

An international driving permit is a document that validates your UK licence worldwide. You don’t need one to drive a car in this country though. What you will need is:

  • a valid driving licence
  • insurance
  •  ID, such as your passport
  •  breakdown cover

Can I use my no-claims discount from overseas?

If you’ve built up a hefty no-claims discount elsewhere, it’s frustrating not to be able to benefit from it. Get a certificate from your insurance provider, proving your no-claims bonus abroad, and you should be able to use it to negotiate a discount here (although you might find there are a limited number of insurance providers who’ll accept the certificate).

Similarly, if you’re a UK resident moving abroad, ask your insurance provider to give you a certificate you can take with you.

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