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Driving Licence Checks for Non-UK Drivers

Apply for a DBS Check

Guaranteeing that overseas employees can legally drive company vehicles may present a complex challenge. Conducting licence checks can reveal whether an employee is subject to a driving ban, whether they have penalty points, and whether they are permitted by law to drive the specific type of vehicle required for their job. In the UK, this task is relatively straightforward, especially for employees from European Economic Area (EEA) countries. However, the process becomes considerably more awkward when dealing with those from other parts of the world. Given that there are approximately 2.29 million EU nationals and 1.25 million non-EU nationals employed in the UK, this is a problem most fleet managers are going to come across.


Recent Changes in UK Licence Checking

Previously, the UK driving licence consisted of a photocard and a paper counterpart detailing driving entitlements and endorsements. The paper counterpart was removed in the summer of 2015 when the system went digital. Employers with permission from their worker could gain instant online access to the DVLA's up-to-date Share Your Driving Licence system. This allowed employers to view penalty points and vehicle-related details using a generated code from the driver's licence and National Insurance numbers.


Addressing Foreign Licence Challenges

There is no central organisation holding global records about foreign employees' licences and driving histories. Employers therefore must come up with another system for checking details on licences issued overseas or use a third-party to do this for them. Licence checking is further complicated by the variety of licence types worldwide and driving permissions. Ordinary licences usually cover cars, light vans, and motorcycles, while more advanced licences are needed for transporting goods and passengers in larger vehicles. Some holders of ordinary licences might also be entitled to drive larger vehicles, particularly if they have held their licences for many years.

Failing to conduct thorough checks can have severe consequences in the event of a crash involving an overseas driver. At the very least, the employers’ insurance coverage could be void. If the police and Health and Safety Executive decide to investigate additional offences might be uncovered.


Challenges in Validating and Checking Foreign Driving Licences

Validating non-UK licences involves verifying the document is genuine, looking at the driver’s entitlement, and checking the document’s security features. Just as in the UK, documents often have security measures to thwart forgery, including visible and hidden elements like raised lettering or holographic images. Checking these features requires expertise and access to online information about what to look for. For EEA licences, information about security features is easily found online, but there are still multiple licence formats to check. Confirming entitlement is the next challenge, particularly for non-UK drivers. The UK provides online access to this information, but many countries restrict access to law enforcement and government agencies. Some solutions involve official translations or assistance from embassies or translators.


Getting Round the Issues of Foreign Licences

Many large employers choose not to bother with checking foreign licences, and instead insist that anyone wishing to work with them has a full UK driving licence.