Non-EU drivers must prove they are up to UK standardsPA

Drivers from outside the European Union can no longer simply swap their licenses for UK versions thanks to the government clamping down on regulation loopholes.

Previously, non-EU drivers could simply exchange their license at a DVLA office without proving their driving abilities on UK roads. Currently, EU driving licence holders do not require a British driving licence, but those rules do not apply to drivers outside of Europe.

However, arrangements are in place with 15 countries, including Australia, Canada and South Africa, which allow drivers to exchange their licences for a British one.

Any driver in the world could then theoretically exchange a licence with one of the "approved" countries, and then exchange that licence for a British one.

The problem occurs, therefore, when the British Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency cannot be sure that a driver has met the appropriate driving standards before exchanging their licence.

"While the government believes certain countries are comparable with the UK, many are not," said Paul Watters of the AA. "Some countries will have very different standards of driving behaviour and traffic levels, as well as driver ability. Some drivers may need extra training to be able to cope with British motorways, for example."

There are certain countries where the testing standards are comparable with those in Britain, and the change in law now means that non-EU drivers must prove they have passed a driving test in such a country, before a request to exchange driving licences will be processed.