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									                                                                              Chapter 4 – Driving in the U.K.

                         CHAPTER 4 – DRIVING IN THE U.K.
                                Last Update: 23 MAR 10 (SSG Chen)

Driver’s Licenses

You will need to have a valid driving license issued by a U.S. state or European nation. Ensure your
license is still valid prior to your arrival in the U.K. Some states automatically extend the validity of
licenses for military members stationed overseas, but this does not apply to Family members. Check with
your state’s department of motor vehicles for further information and to renew, if needed, online. You
must also acquire a USAFE permit to drive in the U.K. To obtain this permit and a fuel ration card, you
will need to complete a computer-based test on the British Driving Theory and receive a local conditions
brief. The fuel card is actually printed on the reverse side of the driver license. You can review the content
at,, or

International Driver’s License

An International Driver's License is only required for driving in Austria and Spain. You should obtain an
International Driver’s License in the United States if you anticipate driving in Austria or Spain.
International Driver's Licenses are not valid in the country of issue. (For example, an International Driver's
License issued in Germany is not valid for operating a vehicle in Germany.) For more information go to or

Auto Insurance
You must have motor insurance before you can drive your vehicle in a public place.

Insurance Companies

Both USAA and GEICO can be contacted once in country by utilizing a U.K. 0800 number. Some
stateside companies will also continue to insure you overseas as well. The best advice is to shop around
and compare prices.


There is a no-claims discount for British auto insurance. (This is also known as a "no claim bonus.") To
qualify for a reduction in premium, you must obtain a typed letter from your last insurance company (not
the agents) confirming no claims or accidents. Only the original copy is acceptable.

The letter from the main or regional office of your last insurance company must quote your name and
policy number and specify the dates the policy was in force (commencement date to cancellation date). It
must specifically state no claims or accidents have been reported; if an accident did arise, it must state you
were entirely exonerated from blame.

No discount will be made if:
     the policy was not in force for a minimum of one year (365 days). Short term policies do not
        qualify for any discount.
     a policy is still in force, or if the policy was not in your name.
     your last policy expired over two years ago.

                                                                                Chapter 4 – Driving in the U.K.

If two cars were insured concurrently, the letter must mention this fact to qualify for a discount on more
than one car, and specify the dates each car was insured.

POV Registration
Steps for getting your vehicle ready for the U.K.

Step 1. For vehicles being shipped, complete Customs and Excise Form 941 at Pass & Registration. See
Bring your certificate of registration or title before your vehicle arrives at the port of entry. Visit to find out when your vehicle is ready to be picked up.

Note: All civilian employees must provide Pass & Registration with a letter from their Civilian Personnel
Office verifying they are eligible and have applied for a civilian component stamp if they do not already
have one in their passport.

Step 2.

          For vehicles driven into the U.K. from Germany or the continent, your first step is to go to the
Vehicle Registration office and de-register your vehicle before you depart Germany. Note that if your
existing registration will expire 90 days or less after you de-register, you will be required to pay an
additional $30 registration fee; otherwise de-registration is free. You will be issued shipping plates, valid
for 90 days, which you may use to drive your vehicle to the U.K.

         For vehicles shipped to the U.K. from CONUS or elsewhere, your vehicle will be quarantined
upon arrival. To pick up your vehicle you will need the following: Proof of U.K. insurance (policy letter
or green card does not count) ID card, USAFE driver's permit (see Driver's Licenses, supra), and DD Form
788 (shipping document). Please ensure you receive the original C&E Form 941 from the port.

Step 3. Report to Pass & Registration within 72 hours of picking up the vehicle along with your original
copy of the C&E form 941 (or certificate of de-registration if you drove into the U.K.). You will receive a
30-day base pass. Please remove any previous base installation decal from your vehicle.

Note: If your vehicle does not have any license plates, it can only be driven from the port to home and
from home to a scheduled MOT site. There are no temporary plates and no temporary base pass issued to
your vehicle. It is illegal to drive without plates and you may be fined.

Step 4. Before the 30-day base pass expires, you need to ensure your vehicle is roadworthy and adjust your
lights to conform to U.K. requirements.

                                     Headlights dip to the left
                                     Amber turn signals front, rear and side
                                     White parking lights
                                     Rear fog light

There are generally a number of local shops that perform this type of modification, and recent arrivals who
had conversions done are the best source of information on cost and quality of work. This can cost
anywhere from £200 to £1000 or more depending on the year, make and model of the vehicle.

Step 5. After these adjustments you will need one of the following safety inspections which can be
completed by a local garage. If your vehicle is less than three years old, a personal import, a left-hand
drive vehicle, or other vehicle not type-approved for use in the U.K, it must undergo a Single Vehicle
Approval (SVA) inspection; otherwise it will require a Ministry of Transport (MOT) inspection.

                                                                               Chapter 4 – Driving in the U.K.

Note: If your vehicle fails its inspection or you do not get it inspected after the 30-day period, it must be
stored or parked off-road until it passes the required inspection. Driving is only permitted to and from a
pre-arranged inspection.

Step 6. Scan and email the following documents to Pass & Registration for U.K. registration:

         C&E Form 941 (pink form) or de-registration from Germany
         U.K. Certificate of Insurance (not green card or policy paperwork)
         Inspection Certificate (MOT or SVA) (ensure VIN is accurate)
         Certificate of Registration or Title (Marriage certificate required if not in the sponsor's name)

Step 7. After completing step six, you will receive your road tax disc through the mail. Your U.K. plate
number is annotated on both your road tax disc and on top of the MOT/SVA. It is then your responsibility
to have the plates made for you at a local garage or other shop that makes vehicle tags, and put on the
vehicle as soon as possible. You will need to have your documents from DVLA to order the plates.

After you receive the road tax disc paperwork, you will then receive the V-5 Registration document (four-
page blue document) about a week to ten days later.

Step 8. Finally, return to Pass & Registration with your U.K. plate number, V-5 registration form, proof of
insurance, ID card, USAFE driver's permit, and MOT/SVA Certification to obtain your permanent base

Road Tax
First year of road tax is free if the vehicle is imported to the U.K. (such as by shipping a vehicle from the
United States). For subsequent years, road tax is based on vehicle emissions according to the charts below.
Note that military members receive road tax reimbursement for one vehicle; you may register more but
only one is tax free. To find your vehicle's emissions, please visit:,
but: see for
changes to vehicle tax from April 2010

Cars first registered on or after 01 March 2001 (based on fuel type and CO2 emissions)
               Band                 CO2 (g/km)              12 months rate            6 months rate
        A                       Up to 100                 Not applicable           Not applicable
        B                       101-110                   £35.00                   Not applicable
        C                       111-120                   £35.00                   Not applicable
        D                       121-130                   £120.00                  £66.00
        E                       131-140                   £120.00                  £66.00
        F                       141-150                   £125.00                  £68.75
        G                       151-165                   £150.00                  £82.50
        H                       166-175                   £175.00                  £96.25
        I                       176-185                   £175.00                  £96.25
        J                       186-200                   £215.00                  £118.25
        K*                      201-225                   £215.00                  £118.25
        L                       226-255                   £405.00                  £222.75
        M                       Over 255                  £405.00                  £222.75

        * Band K includes cars that have a CO2 figure over 225g/km but were registered
          before 23 March 2006

                                                                               Chapter 4 – Driving in the U.K.

Cars registered before 01 March 2001 (based on engine size)

      Engine size (cc)                  12 months rate                    6 months rate
      Not over 1549                     £ 125.00                          £ 68.75
      Over 1549                         £ 190.00                          £ 104.50

The second year's road tax must be done through Pass & Registration. Bring your V-10, proof of
insurance, V-713, MOT, and V-5 documentation.

Tax-Free Fuel
Tax-free gasoline is rationed in the U.K., although most people never exceed their authorized amounts.
Prices fluctuate with the dollar and pound rates so beware if your car is a “gas guzzler.” You will receive
400 liters of fuel per month per authorized vehicle (one for the sponsor and one for the spouse). Prior to
receiving your fuel card, you must have a Military STAR Card. Consider applying for the STAR Card
prior to departure from the U.S. to speed processing time for the Texaco Fuel Card; fuel prices on the
economy are considerably higher than the tax-free rates.

The U.K. government considers your tax-free fuel entitlement to be for professional use in connection with
travel to and from your residence to your place of duty and other necessary travel. You should not attempt
to use your fuel card for recreational travel, and you may have your tax free fuel privileges revoked if you
use your card to refuel far from any professional destination, such as while on vacation.

Auto Clubs
Automobile associations in the U.K. include The Automobile Association (AA), Green Flag, and RAC.

Child Safety Seats
It is the driver's responsibility to ensure that children under the age of 14 years are restrained correctly in
accordance with the law. All children travelling in cars must use the correct child restraint until they are
either 135 cm (4' 5") in height or the age of 12 (whichever they reach first). Afterwards, they must use an
adult seat belt. There are very few exceptions, and the main ones are set out below.

Children up to 3 years old

         In the Front Seat

                  The child MUST use the correct child restraint. It is illegal to carry a child in a rear-
                  facing child seat in a front seat that is protected by an active frontal airbag.

         In the Rear Seat

                  The child MUST use the correct child restraint. In a licensed taxi or licensed hire car, if
                  a child restraint is not available, then the child may travel unrestrained in the rear. This is
                  the only exception for children under 3, and has been introduced for practical rather than
                  safety reasons. You should always think about ways to make sure that a child seat is

Children aged 3 and above, until they reach either their 12th birthday or 135 cm in height

         In the Front Seat

                                                                               Chapter 4 – Driving in the U.K.

                  The child MUST use the correct child restraint.

         In the Rear Seat

                  The child MUST use the correct restraint, where seat belts are fitted.

                  There are three exceptions where there is not a child seat available. In
                  each case the child MUST use the adult belt instead. They are:

                            In a licensed taxi or private hire vehicle
                            If the child is travelling on a short distance for reason of
                             unexpected necessity
                            If there are two occupied child restraints in the rear which
                             prevent the fitment of a third

Children over 1.35 meters in height or who are at least 12 years old

         In the Front Seat

                  The adult seat belt MUST be worn if available.

         In the Rear Seat

                  The adult seat belt MUST be worn if available.

Passengers over 14 years old

Adult seat belts must be used. It is the responsibility of the individual passenger to wear a seat belt if one is

Driving on the Left

Keep left. Look right.

Whether walking or operating a vehicle, the first habit you'll have to change is to remember that the traffic
closest to you is now coming from your RIGHT!

LOOK RIGHT FIRST! Then left, then right AGAIN!

Get familiar with the car's controls

Before you even hit the road, try to get a feeling for the mirror-image layout. Your left hand will operate
the gearstick, your right hand the turn signal. Remember that the more important side mirror is on your
right, the central rear view mirror on your left.

Stay on the left side of the road

This may be obvious when everybody else does, but tends to be forgotten especially after breaks, on lonely
roads and in the morning. Pass traffic islands to the left. Only use a roundabout clockwise. Take a left
turn when accessing a motorway and remember to join traffic on your right side. It actually helps to have a
small post-it note saying "stay left" on the dashboard.


                                                                            Chapter 4 – Driving in the U.K.

Roundabouts are basically intersections, but keep the flow of
traffic moving at a constant pace. Some places in the United
States have these, but they are referred to as "traffic circles."
When you are approaching a roundabout, you'll see a large green
sign. The signs have white lettering, have a diagram of the
upcoming roundabout, complete with details about the roads that
travel out from the roundabout. This sign will show you the
direction that the different roads will take you, the name of the
road (e.g., M1, A917, B2805), and you'll be able to tell which
"exit" to take by counting them. Know BEFORE you get to the
roundabout, which "exit" you need to take.

Roundabouts' secondary signs (those on the actual road you want
to take) are sometimes missing. It is handy to have a navigator to
help you count to the exit you need to take. When approaching a roundabout, you'll need to slow your
speed, and you may have to stop before entering. Yield to oncoming traffic approaching from your right.
As tempting as it may be, even if your turn would be easy to make, do NOT turn to the right on a
roundabout. They are all one way: Clockwise. If your turn is the exit closest to your right as you approach
the roundabout, you must travel clockwise all the way around the circle to that exit.

Motorcycle Requirements

If you are a motorcyclist or think you might be interested in motorcycling while stationed in Europe, there
are a few things you should know first before making any riding plans or financial obligations. You must
complete a Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) approved safety course in order to get the required
motorcycle endorsement on your USAFE driver's permit before you can ride your motorcycle in Europe.
The frequency and availability of student slots are limited. You are highly encouraged to attend one of
these safety courses the MSF offers at your stateside location prior to PCSing here to avoid any
unnecessary delays in licensing. See your base safety office for details. Motorcycle refresher training is
required every three years.

Additionally, it is recommended that you obtain the following Personnel Protective Equipment for use
within the U.K.:
     Brightly colored reflective vest which is clearly visible, examples include fluorescent green,
         yellow, or orange. Use of reflective belts does not qualify as a vest.
     DOT approved helmet (or host nation equivalent).
     Impact resistance goggles / full face shield.
     Long sleeve shirt / jacket, full-fingered gloves or mittens and long pants.
     Sturdy footwear, leather or over the ankle shoes are encouraged.


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