Temporary car insurance for non-UK residents

Visiting the UK or moving from abroad? Read our need-to-knows if you’re planning to get behind the wheel while you’re here.

Kim Jones
Kim Jones
Updated 13 June 2023  | 3 mins read
Reviewed by Jasmine Hembury

Information on this page was reviewed by our fact-checkers before it was published. Learn more about our fact checking process and our editorial guidelines.

Planning on hitting the road in the UK? Get the right cover to start your journey off right.

Key points

  • It’s against the law for anyone to drive in the UK without at least third party motor insurance - including non-UK residents
  • You need a valid licence to drive in the UK
  • Your current insurance policy may cover you if you bring your own car, otherwise you could take out temporary car insurance cover

Do I need insurance to drive in the UK?

Yes, the law states that you need at least third party insurance to drive on UK roads. That applies to everyone, including non-UK residents.

So, whether you’re visiting friends and family, taking a holiday or making the move to live here for work or study, you need to be appropriately insured to drive in the UK.

What if I’m hiring a car in the UK or borrowing a friend’s vehicle?

If you rent a car in the UK, insurance should be included in the hire car company’s package.

And if you drive a friend or family member’s car in the UK, they either need to add you to their policy as a named driver or you can take out temporary car insurance from a UK provider.

If I’m bringing my car to the UK will I be covered?

If you drive your own car in the UK, your current insurance policy may cover you for at least third party damage. That’s as long as you’re insured in the European Union (EU), Andorra, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Serbia or Switzerland. Or if you’re from a country that’s a member of the green card insurance scheme.

Talk to your insurer to find out if you’re covered, and whether you need to be issued with a green card. Bring it with you to the UK as it acts as proof of insurance.

If your country isn’t a member of the green card system, you’ll need to insure your vehicle in the UK.

Can a non-UK resident get temporary car insurance?

If you’re borrowing a car, sharing the driving around the UK in a car that’s not your own, or driving for business in the UK, you’ll need valid insurance cover for the vehicle you’re driving.

There are some insurance providers that offer temporary cover to non-UK residents. Policies typically last anywhere from one day to 28 days, or even up to three months.

It's a specialist type of cover, so it won’t be cheap. That’s because non-UK drivers are seen as a risk because, in most cases, they won’t be experienced at driving on UK roads.

You can buy one of three types of cover:

  • Third party - The minimum level of insurance required by UK law. It covers damage to other vehicles and property but won’t cover damage to your car if you’re in an accident that was your fault.
  • Third party, fire and theft - Covers you for damage and injury to third parties, plus fire damage or theft of your vehicle.
  • Comprehensive cover - Offers the top level of protection available. You’ll be covered for damage to your vehicle and any injuries caused by an accident that was your fault, as well as third party, fire and theft cover.

Can I drive in the UK with an international driver’s licence?

Yes, you can drive with a valid non-UK licence as a visitor or if you move here to become a resident.

But there are different rules as to how long you can continue to do so, depending on where you passed your test.

For example:

  • If you have an EU or European Economic Community (EEC) driving licence - You can drive in the UK on a full valid driving licence from an EU or EEC country until you’re 70. Then you’ll need to exchange your licence for a British one. You don’t need to retake your test.
  • If you have a driving licence from a ‘designated country’ - You can drive on this licence for up to 12 months. After that, if you want to continue driving, you’ll need to exchange your international licence for a British one. You don’t need to retake your driving test.
    Designated countries are:
    • Andorra
    • Australia
    • Barbados
    • British Virgin Islands
    • Canada
    • Cayman Islands
    • Falkland Islands
    • Faroe Islands
    • Gibraltar
    • Hong Kong
    • Japan
    • Monaco
    • New Zealand
    • Republic of Korea
    • Republic of North Macedonia
    • Singapore
    • South Africa
    • Switzerland
    • Taiwan
    • Ukraine
    • United Arab Emirates
    • Zimbabwe
  • If you have licence that wasn’t issued in an EU, EEC or a designated country - You can drive in the UK for 12 months. Then you need to apply for a provisional UK driving licence and pass a UK theory and driving test to continue to drive in the UK.

You can find out more about the rules for non-UK licences and driving on this gov.uk tool.

What affects the cost of UK car insurance for international drivers?

Providers charge non-UK drivers more for insurance because they’re seen as high risk as they may be unfamiliar with driving here.

Other factors that affect the cost of car insurance include things like your age, where you’ll keep the vehicle overnight and the length of the policy.

Some providers will also take into consideration your current driving record and any no-claims bonus you have, plus whether you’re an expat. Expat drivers are usually seen as less of a risk than someone who’s never lived in the UK before, so you could get cheaper insurance.

How can international drivers save money on UK car insurance?

  • Drive a smaller, cheaper car with a small engine - It'll cost less to insure than something larger and more powerful.
  • Opt for a higher voluntary excess - Paying more towards any claim will help bring premiums down. Just make sure it’s affordable.
  • Don’t necessarily go for third party cover - Even though it offers less protection it can sometimes be more expensive than comprehensive cover. Compare quotes to find the right choice for you.
  • Shop around and compare deals from different providers - If you have several years of no-claims bonus, it might pay to find a provider that’ll take your careful driving into account.
  • Get a UK licence - If you’re moving to the UK permanently, exchanging your current driving licence for a UK one should reduce the cost of your insurance.

Frequently asked questions

Yes. If you’re an expat visiting friends or relatives back in the UK, you have a couple of options if you want to drive their car.

They could add you to their policy as a named driver. This will of course increase their premium.

Or you could look at taking out a temporary expat car insurance policy on the vehicle. It’ll have no impact on their no-claims bonus as it’s a separate policy.

You’ll need to hold a full UK, EU or EEC licence to get cover.

If you have a full valid driving licence from an EU country, you can continue to use it until you’re 70. But drivers from other countries must change their licence after 12 months if they want to continue driving in the UK.

Depending on where you passed your original driving test, you may be able to exchange your foreign licence for a UK one without retaking your driving test. In some cases, though, you’ll need to retake a driving test to get a UK licence. You can find out what the rules are here.

It’s possible. But you need to check with the insurance provider. Many don’t accept a no-claims bonus you’ve earned overseas. But some do. You’ll just need to provide proof of it, usually in an English translation, from your previous insurer.

Compare providers and, if important to you, search for those that will accept your no-claims bonus.