If you are from an EU or EEA* country, you can drive in the UK with your home country licence. From most other countries, provided your full licence remains valid, you can drive for up to 12 months. To carry on driving after 12 months, you must have obtained a provisional British licence and passed a driving test before the 12 months elapses. For more information visit
Before you drive in the UK for the first time, it is vital to be sure that your host family has arranged insurance cover for you with their motor insurer, so that you are legally covered when you drive their car. BAPAA recommends that you ask to see evidence that your name has been included on the family's motor insurance policy. As an adult, UK law considers you to be a responsible person and you should only agree to drive if you are satisfied that you are insured!
BAPAA recommends that all au pairs who are required to drive as part of their routine are given a course of driving lessons by a qualified British driving instructor. The instructor will report to the family when he/she feels that you have reached the correct degree of confidence required.
1. The controls in Uk cars are on the opposite side
2. The roads are very different
3. The UK has more roundabouts and you have to drive clockwise around them. Traffic coming from the right has priority
4. In the UK, we drive on the left hand side
5. The speeds are given in miles per hour (not kilometres per hour)
6. In built-up areas, the speed limit is 30mph and, in some areas, 20 miles per hour
7. On B roads, the speed limit is 60 mph and will soon be reduced to 50 mph
8. On A roads, the speed limit is 70 mph where there are dual carriageways
9. There are many speed cameras in use in the UK, and speed limits are enforced very strictly. If you exceed a speed limit, you are likely to be traced by the Police and could easily be disqualified from driving or heavily fined
10. Double yellow lines mean no parking at any time. In some areas, your car may be clamped or towed away if illegally parked.
11. If you drive in Central London, you have to pay a congestion charge, currently £11.50 per day. You can pay this on the internet, by phone, or at certain shops and petrol stations and at central car parks within the zone.
For more information on where the congestion charge starts, and how to pay, go to
Make sure you understand the rules of the road. These are contained in the Highway Code and, if you don't have a copy, can be found at https://www.gov.uk/browse/driving/highway-code
Petrol used in connection with work is paid for by the family but you will usually have to pay for petrol for your personal use. This needs to be discussed with the family at the beginning of your stay.
You can get directions of how to get from one place to another at the AA website www.theaa.com/route-planner/index.jsp
*Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Irish Republic, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and United Kingdom. (Iceland, Liechenstein and Norway are not members of the European Union (EU), but citizens of these countries have the same rights to enter, live in and work in the United Kingdom as EU citizens. Switzerland is not in the EEA but an international treaty means that from 1 June 2002 Swiss nationals have similar rights.)