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Hiring or insuring a car in the UK

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by Swarles, Jul 2, 2017.

  1. Swarles

    Swarles New commenter

    Hi all,

    Hoping the more experienced overseas teachers among you may be able to offer me some advice...

    Having returned to the UK after a wonderful first year teaching in Asia, I had planned to hire a car or buy a banger for part of this summer so I could visit friends and family around the UK. It didn't occur to me that this would be an issue - people hire cars all the time - so I didn't think about doing any research into this prior to flying back (busy end of term and all that!). However, a little googling into the logistics of hiring a car seems to suggest that this may be a bit of an issue - or even a total impossibility. UK licences have to have a valid address at which you reside on them (most other countries do not put addresses on licences, incidentally) and my licence technically doesn't have the correct address as I no longer reside there because I moved abroad. However, as you can't put a foreign address on a UK driving licence, I can't update my licence to my correct address. Therefore I think it's the case that I can't get insurance because I would be driving with a licence that has the wrong address on it, which isn't legal.

    Do any of you hire or insure a car when you're back in the UK? Has anybody else had this situation? Is there any solution beyond getting trains and taxis?! It's really rather scuppered my plans for summer!

    I realise plenty of people probably just use their licence as is and say it's their residential address, but I wouldn't be happy doing that (plus it wouldn't take much scratching of the surface to discover I'm an overseas resident). I don't currently have a driving licence for my new country of residence either as I don't drive there, so using that instead isn't an option.

    It just seems a ridiculous situation whereby a UK citizen who passed their test in the UK and has driven there for 10 years can't hire/insure a car but someone from another country with a licence for there can!

    Any advice or clarification gratefully received!

    Thanks :)
  2. 576

    576 Established commenter

    How odd, I'm insured on my parents' car.
    Can't you use the license from wherever you live? As a foreign tourist would?
  3. Swarles

    Swarles New commenter

    Hi 576,

    I don't have a licence for my new country of residence as I don't drive there. I might get one when I go back so I don't have this issue in future, but it's too late for this time :(

    From what I've researched, I'd be careful about driving your parents' car if it's based on your UK licence as I'm not sure you'd technically be insured legally - my understanding is that for a UK licence to be valid it has to have your current, correct address on it. On the DVLA website it states that you must inform the DVLA of any change of address (which - catch 22 - you actually can't do if you move abroad because they can't put on foreign addresses). Therefore when you drive your parents' car you would be driving on an invalid licence which would invalidate the insurance and technically you would be driving uninsured. Like I say, I might be wrong but that seems to be what I'm finding when I try looking it up - it's a whole minefield I was unprepared for!
  4. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    I came home once to find out my licence was out of date, i actually didnt realise until i turned up at the car hire place. They just put my address abroad down on the rental agreement and took my british licence as proof i could actually drive. This was with Europcar at Heathrow airport.

    I suggest you just contact some rental companies.
  5. Swarles

    Swarles New commenter

    Thanks dumbbells66!
  6. frangipani123

    frangipani123 Lead commenter

    Can't you put your parents' address on your licence? It's very easy to do online.
  7. Swarles

    Swarles New commenter

    I thought that but it says on the DVLA website that to change the address on your licence you have to be a resident of Great Britain, which I'm not (a fact which I've informed other government agencies of...). You also have to put your addresses for the last 3 years and technically I've lived in Asia for the last 10 months.
  8. 576

    576 Established commenter

    Some googling led me to an ex-pat forum where a Feb 2016 post on this subject reads

    Against my better judgement I rang the DVLA and was told that it's
    "absolutely fine" to give them an address (eg, of a parent) which is no
    longer the licence holder's home address but where post will be dealt with.
    Further, although they can't put an overseas address on the licence, they
    will register an overseas address for contact purposes. The licence remains
    valid when someone moves overseas.
  9. Swarles

    Swarles New commenter

    Brilliant, thanks 576! I came across people on forums saying licence was invalid and should be returned - wish I'd found that DVLA one!
  10. Bytor

    Bytor Occasional commenter

    Just got back to UK.

    Used rental cars.com from abroad to book car.
    Used UK credit card.
    Although selected local, then £, charged in USD.
    Although naughty, mo big problem this time as used 0% fee card.
    They used Budget for car firm
    Picked up at terminal.
    Used UK driving licence (but do have UK residence), and passcode from dvla (get it online).
    I also have a separate insurance to cover insurance excess.
  11. Swarles

    Swarles New commenter

    Thanks, Bytor. Think I might have been overthinking this! Where did you get your separate insurance as that seems to be the part where the address is an issue?
  12. Bytor

    Bytor Occasional commenter

  13. zrcadlo

    zrcadlo New commenter


    On our holiday from China (where we were living) to UK a couple of years ago we hired a car. I had exactly the same problem, and thought process, as you - it's technically I think fraud to put/have an address on your UK driving licence which isn't your address. Because of that, none of the big hire car companies would have accepted it - they all said they would want 2 forms of proof of address (eg utility bill) at time of car pick-up which clearly we did not have since I was not living at the address on my driving licence (my parents).

    Friends with more experience of car-hiring than me said that despite it saying that in the small-print, none of them had ever been asked to provide these proofs of address when picking up the car. I didn't want to risk it.

    Anyway, what we did was went to a small local franchise of a car hire called Practical which was near my parents place, explained the situation and said we don't have any other proof of address and we don't actually live here but it's where we're staying during the time of the hire. They said Ok and let me hire, but I did not feel happy about the fact that, if stopped, I'd have to pretend to whoever might want to know (police, insurers, etc) that I lived at the address on my driving licence when I have never actually lived there.

    These days my husband has a licence in our country of residence, and I will exchange my UK one for a licence here when it runs out - or possibly even before. That way, all above board.

    To sum up, you can probably hire a car BUT it does involve an element of pretending you live there when really you don't. Try the smaller firms local to where you live, is my advice, and explain the situation when you hire.

    Good luck!
  14. zrcadlo

    zrcadlo New commenter

    Also, this from UK government's DVLA website:


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