Changing your Canadian Licence for British one

For Canadians living / traveling in the UK

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Ben_FitchNew Member
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Location: Reading, Berkshire

Changing your Canadian Licence for British one

Post Sat Jun 23, 2007 1:50 pm

The exchange of a Canadian licence (or "license" if you prefer the American spelling) for a British one is straight forward. The usual costs apply (£45) and you send your documents off to the DVLA in Swansea. The catch is that they'll give you a licence with 'Code 078' on the back. Or, permission to only drive a car with an automatic transmission.

I've only owned one automatic car in 15 years and I took my test on a standard transmission vehicle. We've bought a standard over here and. really don't want to go through a driving test at this point in our lives (mainly the crazy costs associated with it all, including a lesson or two to figure out what they want to pass).

I really want to avoid taking driving lessons and going through a driving test. I know of one person who has pulled it off by providing a CAA note demonstrating 40 hours of driving lessons on a standard. No such paperwork exists for me. No record exists of me taking the test on a standard. Most Canadians I have spoken with have just ponied up and taken the test. Has anyone gone through this exchange and got their full licence? If so, HOW? I'd really like to know what level of 'proof' they'll accept.

For those who like the little ironies over here: I also have a motorcycle licence, which they'll exchange in full. So, once I exchange the licence as it stands, I can't drive my little 1.4 L Toyota because it is standard, but I can legally jump on a 1.4 L superbike (with its manual transmission) and drive safely and competently in the eyes of the DVLA.
mari-macSenior Member
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Location: U.K.

Post Mon Jun 25, 2007 9:38 am

Sorry - I exchanged for the automatic licence - have never driven a standard (or "manual" in UK terms) in my life.

My friend was similar to you - did her test on standard in Canada, and had always owned a standard car but nothing to prove it. She just gave in and took the test here.

Although it's more money and hassle to take the test, being able to buy or rent manual cars will save you money! Trust me, buying and renting automatic cars is a lot more expensive!
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5tratusNew Member
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Joined: 14 Jan 2009

Re: Changing your Canadian Licence for British one

Post Wed Jan 14, 2009 10:10 am

Well, I'm in this process right now.

I've been living here for over 8 years... last year the time came to renew my Canadian licence, and I wouldn't be back in Canada in time to do it.

I was hiring cars (standard and automatic) and such all the time here with my canadian licence. in fact.. i've only ever owned a standard since I was 16 years old in Canada.

I tried a little ruse.. I took my driver's test when i was 16.. but took another one for Alberta Class 4 (ambulances/taxies and school busses under 24 passengers) )when I was 21 ... so I had my friend in Canada make up a letter saying that he was my driver's examiner 19 years ago and according to his records, I took and passed my test on a 5-speed manual transmission car.

almost.. but not quite.. they didn't accept it. I have yet to meet ANYBODY who managed to sneak one past the DVLA.. the rule sucks! If you can't drive a standard.. you can't drive a standard.. you stall at the first intersection and that's that.. no more driving - but NOOOO..

Anyway.. i'm curious to know how the original poster finally made out. I have my Full British licence now and this year I need to do some driving but it's a HUGE pain trying to always find an automatic gearbox car to do it in.

for instance - there's this great scheme here called "streetcar" where there's loads of cars all over London which can be hired out on an hourly basis for only like £5/hour - there's one almost outside my door.. but it's a standard.. their nearest automatic is like a mile away

I'm considering signing up for driving lessons (1 or 2 just to learn what is expected here for test-passing purposes) .. and then take the damn test. grrrr! i'm 40 years old ! how irritating.

Kind regards,

rainbowhavenCanuckAbroad RegularUser avatar
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Location: London

Re: Changing your Canadian Licence for British one

Post Thu Oct 15, 2009 2:09 am

I've sent in for my British with a copy of ownership papers of my last car in Canada which was a Manual to prove I do drive manual.

The guy at the DVLA said there is only 2 provinces that keep records of what transition the test was taken on BC and one other that I can't remember.

I'll let you know what happens... should find out in about 1 week. Fingers crossed.
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gregwtravelsNew MemberUser avatar
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Joined: 3 Jun 2008
Location: London

Re: Changing your Canadian Licence for British one

Post Mon Nov 16, 2009 7:04 am

Damn. I just posted a reply and question with a link to the DVLA site, and the board wouldn't accept it because I "have not posted enough to include links." I understand the need to protect against spammers, but it would have been nice if they could have provided an option to go back and edit the post, instead of just deleting it and making me type everything again.... :x

Anyway, here it goes again.

I have exchanged my Ontario licence for a UK one. Just got the new licence today. As I expected, it is automatic only. There are codes on the back beside the B designation (for cars) indicating an exchanged licence from Canada and automatic only (78,70CDN for those interested).

I can drive a manual, so I would like to proceed to take the test to get my automatic only licence upgraded to allow driving manual cars. I would appreciate some help from those who have done this, as I am confused on the process.

Can I just book a test, or do I need to do anything first (i.e. apply for a provisional licence for manual transmission)? Based on the DVLA website, I think I just need to do the practical test. It says, "If you want to upgrade within a vehicle category you will not normally need to take a theory test, for example, if you have a full automatic car licence and you want a manual car licence you will not have to take a theory test." Is this correct, or do I need to take a theory test?

If one is a good driver trained in Canada, is the test easy enough to just take, or are there lots of questions about specific rules of the road that are UK specific?

Thanks for any help you can provide.

For those wondering about my experience of the process so far, it has been quite easy. I have been in the UK for about 1.5 years. You can only drive on the Canadian licence for 1 year, but you have 3 years to make the conversion. I live in London, so don't drive often.

I went to the DVLA office in Wimbledon instead of mailing the application in to get the Premium Checking Service. I didn't want to give up my passport, and was a little sceptical of Royal Mail getting things delivered given the recent trouble. The Premium Checking Service was very easy. I took in my completed application (downloaded from the DVLA website), Ontario licence, Passport and a photo. They checked my passport and returned it to me, and kept the rest. It was £55, which is £10 more than usual, I believe.

I got my new licence in a little over 2 weeks. I was surprised it was that quick.

kolkolNew Member
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Joined: 21 Jun 2006
Location: Vancouver

Re: Changing your Canadian Licence for British one

Post Fri Nov 27, 2009 8:15 am

Here's a question,

I have my BC Learners (Class 7L) licence, and if I wanted to exchange it for a British one (I'm living in the UK atm) would they do it? There's a few restrictions on it, such as not driving between 0000-0500, only one passenger, need to have someone 25+ in it at all times, etc. Or would I just get a full UK, Auto-Only licence??
nicolebwhalenNew Member
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Joined: 2 Apr 2010

Re: Changing your Canadian Licence for British one

Post Sat Apr 03, 2010 7:55 am

I've posted this question already in another stream but this one seems to be pretty decent.
I'm going to need t change over my licence and am wondering about the whole process. I understand that I need to get a provisional licence, and then i can take the practical. Do i need to take the theory test? If I take my practical on a manual transmission, will I get the manual licence?
What will happen to my Canadian licence when i've changed over? does it become obsolete?
thanks for any help!
BuddhaDimpleNew Member
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Joined: 23 Mar 2009

Re: Changing your Canadian Licence for British one

Post Sun Apr 04, 2010 6:49 am

Last edited by BuddhaDimple on Mon Feb 16, 2015 7:00 am, edited 1 time in total.
gregwtravelsNew MemberUser avatar
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Joined: 3 Jun 2008
Location: London

Re: Changing your Canadian Licence for British one

Post Mon Apr 05, 2010 3:30 am

You won't get a provisional license - you'll get a full license, though probably an automatic only license. You won't have to take any test. The UK will take your Canadian license and return it to your home province. It will no longer be valid (and you won't have it).

You'll only need to take a test if you get an automatic only licence and want to upgrade to a full manual license. At that point, your automatic only license acts as a provisional license for driving a manual. You'll have to put on a big red L decal when driving a manual. You can just book the practical test - no written theory test required.

Hope that helps!
nicolebwhalenNew Member
Posts: 9
Joined: 2 Apr 2010

Re: Changing your Canadian Licence for British one

Post Mon Apr 05, 2010 9:58 pm

really? just like that i get a full UK licence? crazy. awesome but crazy.. so i just go into a post office and do that? or where can i go? and i only have to take a manual practical if i want a manual licence? cool. thanks

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