Can I Drive In The USA With UK License? – Expert’s Guide

“Yeah, it’s possible to drive in the USA with UK License considering the license you have is at least one year old with the minimum age requirement of 21 years.”

Many people from the United Kingdom who often visit the United States either for short business trips or for leisure time via ESTA have this question in mind, “Can I drive in USA with UK License?”

Good news about the question is that yes it’s possible to drive in the USA with a UK license.

Considering your driving license is in English format, you can easily use it to drive in America.

However, certain limitations are there that need to be addressed and we are here to talk about them in this guide today.

Have a look, without any further ado:

Can I Drive In The USA With UK License? – (A Guide)

It is legally possible to drive using a foreign license considering it’s in English. Given the fact that a UK license is already in English, you can utilize it to drive across the States for 3 months without any hassle.

What about the licenses that aren’t in English or you intend to stay more than 3 months then:

Well, there are two options available in that case. One is to obtain an IDP (International Driving Permit) from the country where you got your driving license.

Second is to get your driving license translated into English. You can use the services of the US Consulate for that purpose.

Even if you have a UK driver’s license, the official US government still recommends getting an IDP.


Because of the availability of a plethora of states in America (50), you can face multiple restrictions while driving from one state to another.

To keep yourself away from all this hassle, it’s better to obtain an IDP from your own country so that you can drive in different states of the US without facing any problems.

Can I Rent a Car in US with UK License?

Although the government of America suggests getting an IDP for car rental services, it’s not considered mandatory.

In fact, you can rent a car in the United States of America with your UK driver’s license.

Some companies will let you rent a car when you are 21. However, many companies will rent you a car with a minimum age requirement of 25 years.

What Problems Could UK Drivers Face While Driving in the USA?

A UK driver’s license does not replace a full-fledged US driver’s license. Therefore drivers may face problems while driving especially when they have only UK driver’s license.

For such drivers, it is recommended to apply for a US license if they want to spend more than 3 months in America. For that purpose, drivers should get ready for a formal application followed by theoretical and practical driving tests.

Ensure that you have a US visa to be eligible for a driving license in the United States.

In case you are only here for a short stay, then you can rely on the UK driving license to drive around different states.

If the license is in any other language than English, make sure that you obtain an IDP before visiting the US because America does not issue IDPs to foreign citizens.

Rules and Regulations to Follow in the United States

Laws for driving may change from state to state but there are some general rules and regulations that you should follow while driving in America.

For instance:

  • Contrary to left-hand driving in the UK, the US uses right-hand driving. That is, people drive cars on the right side of the road and their cars are configured accordingly.
  • Overtaking in the States is possible on the left side.
  • Wearing seatbelts is a must in all states of America. You will be charged a violation fee if you do not abide by this rule.
  • It is permissible to turn right on a red light until and unless other instructions are mentioned. Other than that, Red light means STOP!
  • Use of mobile phones is strictly prohibited in the United States. You can talk on the phone via earphones or AirPods as per your will and wish.
  • Use turn signals if you have to turn on either side of the road. You can also use turn signals to switch lanes while driving on a Highway.
  • In United States, it’s mandatory to give way to emergency vehicles including ambulances, firetrucks, and the police.
  • Always carry the vehicle documents along with your driver’s license and insurance papers to enjoy a hassle-free driving experience in America.
  • Pull over safely to one side of the road if you hear a Police siren just behind you. Do not exit the vehicle just roll down the window mirror and wait for the officer to approach you.

Things to Consider While Driving with UK License in America

First things first, even if you are on a short stay, insure your car and keep health insurance to avoid hefty fees and expenses in case of an accident.

Secondly, it’s recommended to carry a valid driver’s license no matter if it’s an IDP or a UK license. If your license is expired, get it renewed as soon as possible before flying to America.

Apart from that, you should also carry all valid documents in your car including proof of residence, visa details, and travel insurance documents.

In case you want to ship your car from UK to the United States, keep a check on all the restrictions and stoppages that you’ll have to bear on the way. The Customs and Border Protection standards should be met along with some other bureaucratic requirements.

UK License and Car Hire Companies

Many car hiring companies may or may not let you hire their cars depending upon the rules and regulations of the state you have just landed in.

So, even though you can travel in America with a UK driver’s license, it’s suggested that you obtain an IDP to avoid all such hurdles and limitations.

An IDP application costs no more than 5.50 pounds and you can apply for it from UK post offices.

After it gets approved, simply drive anywhere you want in the United States of America without facing any issue or rift from the police.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Can you drive with a UK license in the US?

Considering you have no emergency medical condition and you are above 21, you can drive in America with a UK driver’s license. You won’t even need IDP if your stay in the States is no more than 3 months.

2. How long can you drive in the United States with a UK License?

You can drive for 3 months without any need for an IDP or a US driver’s license. If you intend to stay more than 3 months, better get an IDP or apply for a US license if you are shifting from your native country to America.

3. Can illegal immigrants drive in the United States?

Illegal immigrants are mostly not allowed to drive in America but some states do allow issuing driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants. Some major states in this regard include Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Illinois, Hawaii, Oregon, Vermont, etc.

Final Takeaways:

Driving in the United States with a UK driving license is possible if you do not intend to stay more than 3 months.

However, you will surely need an IDP in case your stay exceeds the said time period.

Moreover, if you want to permanently move to America, better apply for a US driver’s license to drive freely and without any restrictions in any state you want.

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