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You need car insurance to drive in the UK, wherever you come from. Find out more with our guide to car insurance for foreign drivers

Is car insurance for non-UK residents necessary?

Driving in the UK as a non-resident requires a valid car insurance policy. This is a legal requirement and applies to anyone driving a car in the UK, regardless of the length of stay. If you plan to drive a friend or relative’s car during your trip, you have two options. You can either purchase temporary car insurance from one of the several insurance companies that offer cover for non-UK residents, or you can be added as a named driver to your friend or relative’s policy. When comparing these options, it’s important to consider the risk factors as they can impact the premium costs.

If you opt for a rental car, you don’t need to worry about car insurance as it will be included in the rental price. However, you may consider purchasing separate car hire excess insurance, which is often more cost-effective than the excess insurance offered by the car rental companies.

If you’re driving a company car, your employer is responsible for ensuring that you have the appropriate cover, typically through business car insurance. However, keep in mind that many fleet insurance policies do not cover non-UK license holders. In this case, you may need to obtain a UK driving license to be covered under the company’s insurance policy.

Is car insurance for non-UK residents possible?

Yes, car insurance for non-UK residents is a viable option for those who plan on driving in the UK during their visit. If you’re staying in the UK for a period of a few months and intend to drive someone else’s car, short-term car insurance is likely the best option for you.

Short-term car insurance policies typically last between 30 and 90 days, but the eligibility to purchase such a policy often depends on the country of permanent residency. It’s important to note that the duration of cover and eligibility may vary based on the insurance provider, so it’s advisable to research and compare different options before making a decision. Additionally, it’s important to consider factors such as the type of vehicle, the purpose of the trip, and the driving history of the non-UK resident when choosing a car insurance policy.

Can I get car insurance with an international driving licence?

Non-UK residents with a foreign driving licence can obtain car insurance in the UK, but it is often more costly due to the higher perceived risk by insurance companies.

Available Levels of Coverage:

Comprehensive Cover: This is the highest level of cover and includes protection for accidental damage to your car and any personal injuries sustained during an accident.

Third-Party, Fire and Theft: This level of cover offers protection against fire damage or theft of your car, in addition to covering damages to other vehicles and property in the event of an accident.

Third-Party Only: This is the minimum legally required level of insurance in the UK and only covers damages to other vehicles and property in the event of an accident, but not damage to your own car.

It is important to understand the different levels of cover and choose the one that best suits your needs and circumstances. It is advisable to compare and research options from different insurance providers before making a final decision.

Is foreign car insurance valid in the UK?

Bringing Your Own Car to the UK

If you plan on bringing your own car to the UK for your trip, your existing insurance policy will typically provide third-party cover while you’re there. However, it’s important to verify this with your insurance company before driving in the UK to ensure that you have the proper cover. Additionally, it’s a good idea to request a “green card” from your insurer, which serves as proof of insurance in the event that you are involved in a traffic incident.

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Purchasing a Car in the UK

If you’re planning on buying a car while in the UK, you will need to secure a UK car insurance policy. This policy will provide the necessary cover while you’re driving the car in the UK, ensuring that you’re in compliance with local laws and regulations. It’s advisable to research and compare different insurance options from various providers before making a final decision, taking into consideration factors such as the type of car, your driving history, and your insurance needs.

Do I need an international driving permit to drive in the UK?

Driving in the UK for Non-UK Residents

If you’re visiting the UK and plan to drive, you don’t need to worry about obtaining an international driving permit. As long as you hold a valid driving licence from your home country and have an accepted form of identification (such as a passport), this will be sufficient for you to drive in the UK for up to 12 months.

It’s important to note that the conditions of your driving licence must be valid and up-to-date and that the license should be in English or accompanied by an official English translation. It’s also advisable to carry your driving license, passport, and car insurance documents with you while driving in the UK, in case you are stopped by the police or involved in a traffic incident.

How long can I keep a foreign car in the UK?

Vehicle Registration and Taxation for Non-UK Residents in the UK

If you are a non-UK resident visiting the UK, there are certain rules and regulations that you need to be aware of regarding the use of your vehicle on British roads. If you become a UK citizen or if you decide to stay in the UK for more than 6 months, you are legally obliged to register and tax your vehicle in the UK. Failure to do so can result in fines and other penalties.

It’s important to note that if you plan to make several shorter visits to the UK that total more than 6 months within a 12-month period, you will still need to register and tax your vehicle in the UK. This is to ensure that you are fully compliant with the law and can use your vehicle without any legal issues.

If, however, you are visiting the UK for less than 6 months, your car can remain taxed and registered in your home country. This allows you to use your vehicle without any additional paperwork or hassle while you are in the UK. However, it’s always a good idea to check the specific regulations of your home country, as these may vary and have different requirements.

How long can I drive with an international driving licence in the UK?

If you’re a non-UK resident and plan to stay in the UK for more than 12 months, you’ll need to obtain a UK driving licence. This is mandatory to continue driving on the roads of the UK.

If you have a European driving licence or an exchangeable international licence, you’ll be able to exchange it for a UK license after six months of residency. To do so, simply complete the application form on the government website and pay a fee of £43.

However, if your international licence is not exchangeable, you’ll need to take a driving test in order to obtain a UK licence. You can apply for a provisional licence and take the test after you’ve been a resident in the UK for six months. This may be necessary if you plan to drive a company car and need to be covered.

How much is car insurance for non-UK residents?

Non-UK residents can expect to pay higher car insurance premiums, regardless of their driving history or lack of accidents. According to data from MoneySuperMarket, the average insurance premium for individuals with international licenses is £1,578, which is approximately £952 more than the average premium for UK drivers.*

Driving licence type

Average annual premiums*

Full Europen (Non-EU)


Full International Licence


Full EU Licence


Full UK Car Licence


Based on fully comprehensive car insurance policies with one driver only. MoneySuperMarket data collected between July and December 2021, accurate as of February 2022.

The reason for higher car insurance costs for non-UK residents is due to the perceived higher risk of making a claim by insurance companies. This is because of a lack of experience on UK roads. Additionally, it may be difficult to find an insurance company that recognises any no-claims discount you may have accumulated in your home country.

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Can I use my existing no-claims bonus in the UK?

When it comes to obtaining car insurance in the UK, your no-claims bonus built up in another country can be taken into account by some insurance providers as a means to negotiate a lower premium. To take advantage of this, you will need to provide a certificate from your previous insurer that verifies your no-claims history.

It is important to note that not all insurance providers in the UK accept certificates from foreign insurers. Therefore, it is important to research and compare different insurance providers to find one that will recognise and accept your no-claims history from overseas. This can be time-consuming, but it can result in significant savings on your car insurance premium. Additionally, if you are a UK resident moving abroad, your no-claims history built up in the UK may be transferable to your new country of residence, and can also be used to negotiate a lower insurance premium.

How can car insurance for non-UK residents be cheaper?

Get a UK Driving Licence: A Solution to Lower Insurance Costs

Getting a UK driving licence is one of the most effective ways to reduce the cost of car insurance in the UK. This can be achieved by either exchanging your foreign driving licence for a UK one or taking a driving test in the country. Having a UK driving licence can help demonstrate your driving ability and experience to insurance providers, leading to lower insurance premiums.

Shop Around for the Best Deal: A Key Factor to Consider

If you have built a substantial no-claims bonus in your home country, it’s important to find an insurance company that recognises and considers this when determining your insurance premium. Do your research and compare different insurance providers to find one that is willing to accept your foreign no-claims bonus.

Consider Different Levels of Cover: Protect Yourself and Save Money

It’s important to choose the right level of car insurance cover that meets your needs. Third-party cover is the minimum level of insurance required by law, but it may not always be the most affordable option. You should compare different levels of cover, including comprehensive cover and third-party, fire, and theft cover, and consider the protection they offer and the associated costs before making a decision.

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