Confused, do I need to exchange my UK drivers license?

Hi all,

So I moved to the France in November 2020 (A rush job to get in before the transition deadline :sweat_smile:). I don’t own a car currently but I do rent from time to time.

I passed my drivers test in the UK in 2011, and at the time of moving to France, my physical drivers license was valid until November 2020. I didn’t notice that it had expired until after I moved, and because there was no clear decision made about how to exchange licenses, I took advantage of still having my address in the UK and renewed my UK license in February 2021.

This leaves me in the current state:

  1. Passed my test in May 2011 in the UK
  2. Current photo card license is valid from Feb 2021 and expires in Feb 2031
  3. My residence card in France is dated from March 2021

I’m reading the advice on the UK government website, but i’m confused - Living in France - GOV.UK

What you have to do depends on if my “driving licence was first issued before 1 January 2021”. Does “first issued” refer to the date that I passed my driving test (May 2011, the ‘valid from’ on the photo card) or does it refer to the date that my current photo card was issued (Feb 2021, the ‘date of issue’ on the photo card)?

If it’s the former, my understanding would be that I don’t need to exchange my current UK license until the photo card is due to expire in February 2031. But if it’s the latter, I should have exchanged it within my first year of residency (before March 2022) and given that I didn’t I have no clue what I’d have to do?

I found this article: Getting a French driving licence (permis de conduire) with your non-French licence. It suggests that i’m safe and it’s the former:

NB: The ‘issue date’ of your licence is not the renewal date of an existing licence, but the date you passed your driving test.

But I have found no other evidence to back this up. I’m wondering if anybody else can help me to verify this?

I want to rent a car next weekend but now i’m worried that I can’t. Any help would be appreciated, thanks!

You’ll be fine for hiring a car.

Strictly speaking unless you were living at the UK address then you shouldn’t have used it for renewing your licence in 2021. But I’m absolutely sure you’re not the only person to have done so.

Your UK licence can be exchanged for a French one 6 months before it expires in 2031. Until then you’ll be able to use the existing UK-issued one as they’re now recognised in France.

There’s a whole thread on this subject if you search the forum. Otherwise Kim is a fountain of knowledge as I believe she was involved (or in contact with those who were involved) with dealing with the reciprocity issue post-Brexit.


Put a note in you diary to start worrying about it in February 2030 Steve. In the meantime, bonne route :slightly_smiling_face:

1 Like