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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? Here’s what you need to know about 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? Here’s what you need to know about car insurance for non-UK residents.

Written by
Kate Hughes
Insurance expert
Last Updated
4 min read
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Can I get car insurance as a non-UK resident?

You can get car insurance as a non-UK resident – in fact, it’s illegal to drive on UK roads without it. But you may need to use a specialist provider and it may cost you more than it would with a UK licence.

This is because international drivers aren’t familiar with UK roads and driving on the left, so they might be considered higher risk.

You’ll also need to follow UK rules, meaning your car must be: 

  • Registered in your own name
  • Taxed
  • Have a valid MOT (the official Department for Transport test of vehicle safety, roadworthiness and emissions) if the car is more than three years old. 

Provided that you live in the UK, you can compare car insurance with us if you have an EU, European non-EU or international driving licence.

What insurance can I get to drive in the UK?

If you’re planning to borrow a car from friends or family while you’re here, you could get temporary car insurance. Short-term policies are available from just one hour up to 30 days.

However, you’ll typically have to pay a higher premium than UK residents, even if you have a good driving record abroad. 

Another option is for the car owner to add you to their policy as a named driver. They might have to pay extra to do this.

If you’re renting a car, you won’t have to worry about insurance as this is included in the price. But check what’s covered in the rental agreement and consider adding extra cover if needed.

You can also get car insurance for your own car.

Temporary car insurance for non-UK residents

Getting temporary or expat car insurance means you won’t have to worry about adjusting your current policy or taking out an annual one.

It also offers you comprehensive insurance. That’s the highest level of cover – and it protects you, your vehicle and third parties.

What if I’m bringing my own car to the UK?

If you’re bringing your own car into the UK, you may be covered by your existing insurance policy for at least third-party damage. This is provided you’re from a country that belongs to the Green Card insurance scheme.

Even if you have third-party insurance, you might want to increase your cover level to comprehensive, so that you and your vehicle are more protected. Check to see what cover you have before you start driving. 

You should also ask your insurance provider for a Green Card. This proves you have valid insurance in case you have an accident. 

If you’re not from one of the countries belonging to the Green Card scheme, you’ll need to insure your car in the UK.

How much is international car insurance for non-UK residents?

If you’re driving in the UK on a foreign driving licence, you should expect to pay more for your insurance than someone with a UK licence. This will be the case even if you have an impeccable driving record. 

You may also struggle to find an insurance provider that will accept a no-claims discount from another country. 
Other factors that affect the cost of your UK car insurance include your:

  • Personal circumstances and driving history
  • UK address
  • Car’s make, model and age
  • Estimated mileage
  • Overnight parking arrangements.

Find out what else can impact the cost of car insurance in the UK.

Should I change my foreign licence for a UK one?

It may be worth exchanging your foreign driving licence for a UK one because:

  • Having a UK licence could mean paying less for your car insurance
  • Most company cars are covered by fleet insurance, which excludes non-UK licences
  • You can use your UK driving licence as ID – useful for everything from buying a pint in the pub to joining the local library.

Unless you’re an EU licence holder, you can only drive in the UK on a foreign licence for up to 12 months. So if you’re staying longer than a year, you’ll need to exchange it for a UK one anyway.

Find out more about exchanging a foreign driving licence at GOV.UK.

Did you know?

Drivers from designated countries can exchange their driving licences for a British licence. Designated countries include: Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Japan, South Africa, Zimbabwe, the United Arab Emirates and Switzerland.

Do I need an international driving permit?

No, you don’t need an international driving permit to drive in the UK. You need:

  • A valid driving licence
  • Insurance
  • ID – for example, your passport.

For information about international permits for UK residents, read our guide to driving abroad.

Frequently asked questions

Can I use my no-claims discount from overseas?

Possibly, but not all UK insurance providers accept overseas no-claims discounts, so you may need to shop around to find one that does.

It’s still worth asking your usual insurance provider for a certificate to prove your no-claims bonus abroad.

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

How long can I drive my foreign car in the UK?

There’s no limit, but you’ll need to register your foreign car if you become a UK citizen or stay in the UK for more than six months in any 12-month period. You’ll also have to pay road tax (VED).

It doesn’t matter whether you’re here for one six-month stint or several shorter stays that add up to six months.

How can I save on my car insurance as a foreign driver?

If you’re an international driver working or living in the UK, you can save money on your car insurance by:

  • Exchanging your foreign licence for a UK driving licence
  • Finding a car insurance provider that accepts the no-claims discount you’ve built up in your home country
  • Shopping around to find the best deal.

Can non-UK residents compare car insurance with Compare the Market?

Unfortunately, if you’re a non-UK resident, you can’t compare car insurance with us.

But you can compare temporary car insurance with our trusted partner Tempcover if:

  • You hold a UK or EU driving licence
  • You’re a British expatriate who’s previously been a permanent UK resident.

It’s also worth finding out more about driving in the EU.

Do I need car insurance to drive in the UK?

Yes, by law you must have at least third-party car insurance to drive on UK roads, even if you’re only visiting for a short time. 

Kate Hughes - Insurance and finance expert

As an award-winning journalist, author and broadcast commentator, Kate has been writing about personal finance for more than 20 years. She’s the former Money Editor for The Independent. Her work has appeared across the UK broadsheets as well as a number of international titles. Kate brings her financial expertise to inform her readers on ways to save money. She’s also written a book. ‘Going Zero: One Family’s Journey to Zero Waste and a Greener Lifestyle’ is available now.

Learn more about Kate