International students, temporary workers, long-term visitors, and expatriates come to the UK for a variety of reasons. Many of them need cars. The procedure to obtain registration and insurance coverage can be daunting, depending on your particular situation. Requirements for non-resident drivers in the UK are fairly rigid and compliance with regulations is essential. Following the tips below will make the transition easier.
Use a variety of resources to acquire information: Talk to others who have found ways to obtain reasonably priced and adequate insurance. This advice is especially useful for international students. A word of warning for all: do not drive in the UK without insurance coverage. Check the internet for UK insurance quotes and comparisons for coverage, costs, and discounts. Contact the DVLA (Driving and Vehicle Licensing Agency) to get accurate information about requirements for your car registration, age requirements for driving, licensing, required tests and taxes.
Special advice for young international students: As in many countries, young foreign drivers need to pay higher premiums than most other drivers. In the UK this is compounded by the fact that the British drive on the left side of the road. This makes the inexperienced foreign driver an even higher risk driver, so be prepared to pay higher premiums.
Alternatives to a UK license and insurance: Many visitors, workers and students from other countries are allowed to drive on a foreign or international permit and insurance coverage for a period of 12 months. After that time period, this needs to be replaced by a British license.
Long-term stays in the UK: If your stay in the UK will likely be long-term, you will probably be advised to bring your own vehicle with you and use your own insurance. Many insurance companies in the UK won’t insure foreign driver for the long term. In some cases, you will be required to become a UK resident. As a resident, you will need to get vehicle registration with DVLA (Driving and Vehicle Licensing Agency), pay a road tax and have your vehicle pass the MOT test if your car is over three years old. Getting ample insurance is essential.
Insurance considerations: Look for a reputable insurance company that is knowledgeable about international car insurance. International insurance is a good answer for short stays in the UK when you rent a vehicle. If you are an expatriate, find a company that understands car insurance needs in your new country, the UK. An important consideration might be the difference in currency value between your original country and the UK. Check to be sure that the make and model of your vehicle are covered by UK insurance companies. Take note that insurance premiums may be higher than you are accustomed to because there’s a good chance that your driving history can’t be transferred from your old license. Take heart – there are driving classes you can take that will lower your premiums.
Difficult questions about car insurance coverage: There are always those thorny problems that come up when visitors come to stay in the UK. For example, a young girl may come to the UK to visit her boyfriend for about six months. She wants to share her boyfriend’s car and asks to be added to the insurance policy under her boyfriend. Technically, if you are a non-resident and have a foreign license, most companies won’t add you to the policy. If they did, they would charge a high premium. If you encounter any unusual problems, make careful inquiries in order to avoid future problems if you are involved in an accident.
Whatever your reason for a long or short stay in the UK, making arrangements for driving a car needs to be done carefully, using accurate information. Adhering to UK driving, licensing, and insurance and registration regulations need to be followed carefully. Useful information can be found on UK government websites. Insurance company online sites can guide you through the process of acquiring the best insurance policy for your needs. Don’t forget to talk to others who have searched for car insurance in the UK.