The question of whether older drivers should have to retake their driving test comes up regularly in the media and in motoring surveys. This year, many drivers moving to Europe for work or retirement face having to retake a test in their chosen country of residence.
In truth, drivers of all ages might lack confidence in passing a retest. Bad habits set in, moderating speed might not come naturally for experienced, over-confident drivers and many would have to re-learn the highway code. In fact, people who passed their test prior to July 1996 never took a theory test. They studied the highway code, answered a few questions from the examiner at the start of the test and that was it! It is highly possible that a pre-1996 driver has never looked at the highway code since.
Retests in the EU
If you have plans to retire or work in the EU, you may need to dust off that highway code and start studying. In fact, download one of the many theory test apps. Learner drivers have moved away from books and onto interactive test apps which tell you if you selected the incorrect answer.
Pre-Brexit, it was possible to retire to a European country and continue using a UK driving licence. However, since January, several EU countries will no longer accept a UK driving licence for residents. In many countries, it’s possible to apply for a local licence without a test, but time is running out.
British drivers resident in the EU can no longer renew their UK driving licence
If you live in the EU, you will not be able to renew your driving licence in the UK.
If your UK licence is lost, stolen, or expired, you may not be able to exchange it for an EU licence. You may have to apply for an EU licence and retake your driving test.
Austria and Cyprus
You can exchange your licence before July 2021 without having to take a test. You are encouraged to exchange your licence within this period otherwise you may need to take a test.
If your UK or Gibraltar photocard licence was issued before 1 January 2021, you can exchange your licence without having to take a test. You need to do this within 180 days of taking up residency in Denmark, or by 30 June 2021, whichever is later.
Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Iceland, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, and Switzerland
Most drivers can exchange their licence without having to take a test. Consider doing this as soon as possible in case rules change.
You can exchange your licence without having to take a test for licence categories A1, A2, A or B.
You can continue to use your licence until 1 January 2022.
You can exchange your licence without having to take a test. You should exchange your UK licence for a German one within 6 months of becoming resident or by 30 June 2021, whichever is later.
You can exchange your licence without having to take a test from 1 February 2021. A medical – physical and eye – examination will be required.
UK and Northern Ireland licence holders’ resident in the Republic of Ireland must exchange their driving licence for an Irish licence. UK and Northern Ireland licences aren’t legal for driving in Ireland. However, they can be exchanged without the need to take a driving or theory test.
You may need to take a test to exchange your licence.
You can exchange your licence without having to take a test if you obtained the licence before 1 January 2021.
You can continue to use your licence until 1 July 2021. From 1 July 2021, you will need to take a test to exchange your licence.
You can continue to use your valid UK licence in Portugal until 31 December 2021. If you are resident in Portugal, you should exchange your UK driving licence by 31 December 2021.
You can exchange your licence without having to take a test. If you have been resident for over 185 days starting from 1 January 2021, you must exchange your UK licence for a Slovak one within 60 days of completing the 185 days and before 2 September 2021.
You can exchange your licence without having to take a test until 31 December 2021, or within one year of becoming resident, whichever is longer.
Spain (including Balearic and Canary Isles)
You can continue to use your licence until 1 July 2021. You may need to take a test if you want to exchange your licence.
You can continue to use your licence until 1 July 2021. After this, you will be able to exchange your UK licence without taking a test.
Note: For all countries, if you hold a licence from Gibraltar, Jersey, Guernsey, or the Isle of Man, you may need to take a test.
Visit the Government’s website for the latest on EU driving regulations.