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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. Depending on how long you’re planning to stay in the UK, you have a few options to choose from. 

As most standard annual car insurance policies need you to have a UK address, we aren’t able to compare annual policies for you if you don’t have one. We can still help you understand what your options are, and our temporary insurance provider Tempcover can help you get short-term cover while you’re in the UK.

Read on to learn more about arranging car insurance as a non-UK resident. If you're ready to get a temporary car insurance quote, use the 'Get a quote' button.

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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. 

The process may be different in Northern Ireland. You can find out more about how it works and exchange your international driving licence on GOV.UK

When should I get temporary car insurance in the UK?

If you’re only in the UK for a short time and need to use a car, temporary car insurance is a great way to only pay for the cover you need. It can be cheaper and less effort than being added to someone else’s car insurance policy, especially if you won’t be in the UK for a long time. 

Temporary car insurance 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 temporary business use
  • Driving to and from airports

You have the option of starting your cover immediately or delaying it by up to a month, and can choose the length of time you’re covered for.

What our expert says

"There can be a lot of choice when it comes to car insurance for non-UK residents, but temporary insurance is usually a good place to start. It's often the easiest option if you're only here for a little while. But even if you're at the start of a longer stay, it can cover you while you settle in and gives you the time and freedom to work out the best long-term solution. And if you need to, it only takes a few minutes to renew and continue your policy after the first cover period has expired."
Marc Pell, Managing Director at Tempcover
Managing Director | Tempcover

What do I need to get temporary car insurance as a non-UK resident?

To get a temporary car insurance quote from Tempcover to cover you while you’re in the UK, you’ll need:

Personal details:

  • Your name and date of birth
  • The address you’re using in the UK
  • The type of driving licence you have (Full EU, Full International, NI)

Car details:

  • Details of the car you'd like to insure
  • When you'd like the cover to start
  • How much the car is worth - Tempcover doesn't cover cars worth less than £1500

Tempcover will compare temporary car insurance policies from their panel of insurers and show you the quote that best suits your needs.

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.

Tempcover logo

Can I add a non-UK resident to my UK car insurance policy?

Yes - if you have an annual car insurance policy, you could add someone visiting from outside of the UK to your policy. But there are some things to be aware of

If you're adding someone to an existing policy, there may be a cost for mid-term changes. You could also see your insurance costs increase because non-UK residents are often seen by insurers as a greater risk.

If you've built up a no-claims bonus (NCB) on your policy, it may be affected if the named driver is in an accident and needs to make a claim. This is because the insurer will still have to pay out even though you weren't the one driving.

For a short term stay, it's worth weighing up whether temporary insurance might be a better option.

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. 

What do I need to do to use my existing car and cover in the UK?

If you're bringing a car to the UK that's already insured, you'll be able to drive it for up to 6 months with your existing cover. This limit applies to both a 6-month stay or shorter trips that add up to 6 months over a 12-month period. 

You should speak to your insurer to check what level of cover your policy includes. Typically insurers only provide third-party cover for driving in other countries as standard.

Third-party car insurance is the minimum you need to be legally allowed to drive on UK roads. But you might want to upgrade it to a comprehensive policy for more protection if you’ll be in the country for a longer period. 

You should also check with your insurer whether you’ll need a ‘green card’ to prove you have the necessary level of cover should you get into an accident. 

Once your 6 months have expired, you'll need to register your car in the UK and pay car tax. Once it's registered you need to switch to a UK car insurance policy. You can find more guidance on registering a non-UK car on GOV.UK.

Need more help?

Can I get cheap car insurance with an international driving licence?

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

Do I need car insurance if I’m renting a car?

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.

Which countries are on the ‘designated countries’ list?

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:

  • Andorra
  • Australia
  • Barbados
  • British Virgin Islands
  • Canada
  • Cayman Islands
  • Falkland Islands
  • Faroe Islands
  • Hong Kong
  • Japan
  • Monaco
  • New Zealand
  • Republic of Korea
  • Republic of North Macedonia
  • Singapore
  • South Africa
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan
  • Ukraine
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Zimbabwe
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Confused.com's temporary cover solution is provided by Tempcover LTD. Tempcover LTD are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority under firm reference number 746985. Tempcover LTD is registered in England No. 9923259 at office: 2nd floor, Admiral House, Harington Way, Fleet, Hampshire, GU51 4BB. Confused.com is an intermediary and receives a percentage of commission received by Tempcover LTD.