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Temporary car insurance for non-UK residents

You need car insurance to drive in the UK, even if you live abroad. Temporary car insurance gives you the cover you need while also providing additional flexibility.

You can get temporary car insurance for as little as 1 hour to as long as 28 days. This means you can tailor your policy to your visit to the UK.

Here’s everything you need to know about arranging annual and temporary car insurance for non-UK residents.

Car keys next to EU licence plates

Can I drive in the UK with an international driving licence?

Yes, you can drive in the UK with an international driving licence

But after 12 months, you need to apply for a full UK driving licence. If you decide to become a UK citizen, you must also register your car with the DVLA and pay vehicle excise duty - also known as car tax

If you’re visiting the UK for less than 12 months, you can arrange temporary car insurance alongside your international driving licence. This ensures you’re driving legally but only paying for cover during your visit.  

If you plan to become a UK resident, you may need to get a full UK driving licence and annual car insurance instead.

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

You can drive with an international driving licence for up to 12 months from when you last entered the UK. After this time, you need to get a valid UK licence.

If you have a European or exchangeable international licence, you may be able to exchange it for a UK driving licence. You must exchange your international licence once you’ve been a resident for 6 months.

The process of exchanging your licence costs £43. To do this, you can follow the steps outlined in the tool provided by GOV.UK. But the process may be different in Northern Ireland.

If you don’t have an exchangeable licence, you may be expected to take a full UK driving test before getting your new licence. You need to apply for a provisional licence first, then you can take the test after being a resident for 6 months.

If you’re still unsure, you can use the tool provided by GOV.UK to work out how long you can drive in the UK.

Annual car insurance for non-UK residents

If you’re visiting or moving to the UK, you need car insurance if you want to drive. One option is annual car insurance for non-UK residents.

There are 3 main levels of cover available when applying for car insurance in the UK:

  • Third-party only: This is the minimum level of cover accepted in the UK. It only covers you if you damage someone else’s property or injure them while driving. It also covers your passengers but not damage done to your car.
  • Third-party fire and theft: This type of car insurance offers third-party cover and covers your car for repair or replacement costs if it's stolen or damaged by fire.
  • Comprehensive cover: Also known as ‘fully comp’, it's the highest level of cover available. It covers you and your car against accidental damage as well as other people and their property.

To arrange car insurance as a non-UK resident, you need to provide:

  • Your name and personal details
  • Vehicle information - for example, the make, model and any modifications made
  • Proof of car tax
  • Proof of a valid MOT if your car is more than 3 years old

It's important to note that Confused.com doesn't compare car insurance for non-UK residents. But you may be able to get specialist cover elsewhere.

Temporary car insurance for non-UK residents

When driving in the UK as a non-resident, you also have the opportunity to arrange temporary car insurance during your stay.

This type of cover is most beneficial to non-UK residents who are:

  • Holidaying in the UK
  • Borrowing a friend or family member’s car
  • Borrowing a vehicle for business use
  • Driving to and from airports

Getting annual car insurance for international drivers can be difficult and adding a new driver to an existing policy is often expensive.

Temporary car insurance gives you short-term cover from 1 hour up to 28 days. It’s a flexible solution to cover you and your vehicle during your stay in the UK, ensuring you only pay for the time you’re visiting.

You can choose the length of time you’re covered for and select the level of cover that best suits you. You also have the option of starting your cover immediately or delaying it by up to a month. This can help you settle in during your trip first.

To get temporary car insurance for non-UK residents, you need to provide:

  • Your name and personal details
  • Details of your licence and driving history
  • Details of the car you'd like to insure
  • The date you'd like the cover to start
  • Proof of a driving licence issued - Most insurers accept EU licences and those issued in the EEA, South Africa, Switzerland, Australia and New Zealand

Make sure you shop around before choosing as some insurers only accept current or former UK residents. Others also accept visitors and tourists.

At Confused.com we can help you compare temporary car insurance as a non-UK resident. To compare quotes, we require:

  • The registration of your vehicle
  • Your personal details - including your name and date of birth
  • A UK address
  • The type of driving licence you have - for example Full EU, Full International

Compare temporary car insurance quotes

Can I drive my car in the UK with my existing cover?

Yes, you usually can drive in the UK with your existing cover but it depends on your specific policy.

If you have an existing car insurance policy, you may be covered for at least third-party damage in the UK. But, you may want to increase this to fully comprehensive cover depending on the length of your stay.

There’s also the option of choosing imported car insurance, which is specifically designed for vehicles that aren't manufactured or sold in the UK.

Before buying additional cover, speak to your insurer and discuss how your current policy covers you. Know that you’re required by law to have at least third-party car insurance in the UK, even if you’re only visiting.

You should also ask your insurer for a ‘green card’ to prove you have the necessary insurance should you get into an accident.

If you’re instead looking to buy a car in the UK, you need a UK car insurance policy.

How can I save on car insurance as an international driver?

You may encounter higher car insurance costs when using an international driving licence compared to a UK licence. Some insurers may consider international drivers as higher risk due to a lack of familiarity with UK driving laws and roads.

To save money on your car insurance as an international driver, you can:

  • Compare car insurance quotes
  • Compare the levels of cover available
  • Exchange your foreign licence for a UK driving licence
  • Find an insurer that allows you to keep the no-claims bonus you’ve built up in your home country
  • Choose a higher voluntary excess on your policy, if you can afford it