The UK Government has announced that it will change the law on acquiring UK drivers’ licences after it was revealed that there is a prolific illegal trade to acquire the much sought-after documents.
The BBC uncovered the trade in illegal UK drivers’ licences last year. The trade exploits a loophole in the law, allowing foreign drivers to drive with a UK licence.
Now the Government says it will introduce a new legal requirement that all foreign drivers must prove that they have passed a test in a designated country before being allowed to drive on UK roads.
At the moment any motorist can drive on a foreign licence for up to one year in the UK before being required to convert to a UK licence. Drivers from many countries can do this automatically, whilst others, including those from India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Malaysia, the USA, China and Israel must all pass a UK driving test before being allowed to swap their home licence for a UK one.
The BBC’s investigation for its Inside Out progamme revealed a trade in Hong Kong licences, that the UK automatically recognises, allowing the purchaser to then trade their illegally acquired licence for a legitimate UK one.
The new law will apply to any applicant from a country outside the EU.
Roads Minister Stephen Hammond said that the new law would make Britain’s roads safer.
“This change in the law will mean we can be sure that any foreign drivers exchanging their licence here have already passed a test of a similar standard to ours,” he said.
Security experts also welcomed the news, citing the fact that a UK licence is now reliably used for ID purposes as a good reason to tighten up controls on who can have a licence and how they are acquired.
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