What car insurance options are there for non-UK residents?
Your options will differ based on the duration of your visit:
If you’re only planning on visiting for a short time, temporary car insurance might be the most suitable option. You can get cover from 1 hour up to 28 days. It’s a flexible solution to cover you and your car during your stay in the UK, ensuring you only pay for the time you need. For many non-UK residents this is usually the easiest option.
If you’re planning to stay for over a year or are moving to the UK, you may need to get annual car insurance instead. If you’re staying for over a year, you also need to apply for a full UK driving licence.
You'll also have different options depending on the car you plan to use:
If you’re planning to borrow a car from someone who lives in the UK, they could add you to their policy as a named driver. This may come with an added charge and requires them contacting the insurer to make the changes to the policy. But if you're likely to be in the UK for a long period of time, it might be more cost effective than temporary cover.
If you’re bringing a car over with you that has an existing policy in place, you may be covered for at least third-party damage in the UK already. You may want to consider increasing this to comprehensive cover to offer you more protection if you’re planning a longer stay.
If your car isn’t already insured, you can get imported car insurance, which is for vehicles that aren’t manufactured or sold in the UK.
Can I drive in the UK with an international driving licence?
Yes - you can drive in the UK with an international driving licence for up to 12 months as long as you have a valid car insurance policy. You have to be over 17 to meet the minimum legal age requirement and after a year you need to apply for a full UK driving licence.
You may find your car insurance costs are higher compared to having a UK licence. This is because some insurers consider international drivers higher risk due to a lack of familiarity with UK driving laws and roads.
If your international licence is from a designated country you can apply to exchange it for a full UK licence as long as it hasn’t expired. You can do this without having to take a UK driving test if it’s within the first 5 years of you becoming a UK resident.
If your licence was issued in a country outside of the EU or not in the designated country list such as the US, you’ll have to apply for a provisional driving licence. You'll need to pass a UK driving test before you’ll be issued a full UK driving licence, regardless of how long you’ve been a UK resident.
What our expert says
Who is Tempcover?
Our trusted partner Tempcover is a leading provider of short-term car insurance and has been helping customers find temporary cover for over a decade. All temporary car insurance policies compared through Confused.com are administered by them.
When you get a quote, we'll use the details you supply to compare a range of insurers who work with Tempcover, and we'll then show you a price based on your requirements. They compare comprehensive insurance policies from a range of insurers to help you find the cover you need.
What do I need to get annual car insurance as a non-UK resident?
To get cover for a longer stay, or a permanent move, you should compare annual car insurance prices to make sure you get the best deal.
To get a quote on Confused.com you’ll need:
- Your personal details - your name, age, where you live and what your occupation is
- Details of your car - the make, model and any modifications made to it
- The type of cover you need - how you use your car, your annual mileage and whether you want comprehensive, third-party only or third party fire & theft cover
There are 3 levels of cover available when applying for cover:
- Third-party is the minimum legal level of cover needed to drive. It covers you for damage to someone else or their property.
- Third-party fire and theft covers everything third party does and also covers you for theft or fire damage.
- Comprehensive is the highest level of cover available. It covers you and your car, plus other people and their property.
Need more help?
Even with the higher risk factor of having an international driving licence, you can still find ways to reduce the cost of your car insurance, including:
- Comparing car insurance prices with us
- Exchanging your foreign licence for a UK driving licence
- Finding an insurer that allows you to keep any no-claims bonus you’ve built up in your home country
- Choosing a higher voluntary excess on your policy, if you can afford it
- Paying for your cover annually - this is often cheaper than making monthly payments
- Giving an accurate mileage during your quote
- Completing a driving course such as Pass Plus or an advanced driving course
Not usually - rental cars tend to have some level of insurance included in the price. Check your rental agreement to make sure you have enough cover for your needs before driving. Make sure you increase your level of protection if you need to.
Although you may not need additional car insurance for a rental car, you may want to consider car hire excess insurance. You can use this to help cover any excess you need to pay if you have an accident in your hire car.
If you have an international driver's licence from you can exchange your licence for a full UK driving licence. That's as long as you do it within 5 years of arriving in the UK. Here are the designated countries:
- British Virgin Islands
- Cayman Islands
- Falkland Islands
- Faroe Islands
- Hong Kong
- New Zealand
- Republic of Korea
- Republic of North Macedonia
- South Africa
- United Arab Emirates
Car insurance guides
The ability to drive other cars on your policy isn’t something that’s always automatically included. In fact, not all providers even offer it.
Making sure you’re insured to drive doesn’t just protect you, it’s also a legal requirement.
If you’re involved in an accident, you might be offered a courtesy or hire car replacement, but the difference could cost you thousands of pounds.
Figuring out which level of cover suits you can be a headache. Here’s a quick rundown of the most common policy types and what they do.
Types of car insurance
is a legal requirement if you're driving in the UK. Find out more about choosing the right cover at the right price.
offers short-term comprehensive cover from one hour to 28 days.
includes instant cover with no long-term contract.
lets you insure one or more cars on the same policy.
lets you prove you’re a safe driver, and save money on your policy, even if you’re inexperienced or seen as high risk.