Can I use my extended driving licence to drive abroad?

Hundreds of thousands of UK drivers with an 11-month extension on their driving licence could find they are unable to drive or hire cars in Europe and beyond as Covid-19 travel restrictions are eased for Brits.

Cars driving in Paris France  - but British drivers with extended licences could be barred from foreign roadsUK drivers with extended photocard driving licences could be barred from driving abroad if they don't physically renew the document

The news could leave thousands of Brits open to prosecution, or left standing at international car hire centres unable to rent a vehicle. 
 
The problems could hit anyone who had their driving licence photocard automatically extended by 11 months as the DVLA struggled during the first wave of Covid-19 restrictions. 
 
With Britain fully leaving the EU after the transition period ended on 31 December 2020, an agreement recognising the extended driving licences seems to have expired.
 
Here's all you need to know about ensuring you can drive in Europe from 1 January 2021 if you had your driving licence automatically extended due to Covid-19.
 

Why were driving licences extended

Reacting to the need to keep people working from home during the pandemic, the government announced that anyone with a driving licence photocard expiring between 1 February and 31 December 2020 would see them automatically extended for 11 months.  
 

What it is the problem with extended licences?

Because new licences are not sent out to cover the 11-month extension period, there was an agreement with the EU allowing them to be accepted in Europe.
 
However, since the transition period ended on 31 December 2020, the extended licences are not accepted when driving abroad. 
 

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What does it mean if extended driving licences are not accepted when driving abroad?

This means that anyone driving their own car abroad - in the EU for example - will be in trouble if stopped by local police, or could be uninsured in the event of an accident. 
 

What about hiring a car abroad with an extended licence?

Anyone attempting to pick up a hire car in foreign country is likely to find their booking will not be honoured due to not having a valid licence. 
 

What does the government say?

The YouGov website says: 'You must renew your licence before you can drive abroad if your licence or entitlement to drive in the UK has been automatically extended.'  Read the full advice here
 

How can I make sure I am legal to drive abroad if my driving licence was extended?

If your licence was extended and you want to drive abroad during the extended period, you will need to have your licence renewed as normal so you have a physical driving licence photocard that is up to date. 
 

Where can I update my extended driving licence online?

You can go online to do it on the DVLA website here. You will need a valid passport to renew online. 
 

Will I need to pay to renew my licence if it has been extended?

Yes, you will need to pay the normal driving renewal fee of £14 online or £17 by post. There will be no charge if you're 70 or over.
 

How long will it take to get a licence renewed?

Getting a new licence will take 10-14 working days if renewed online.
 
 
 
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