Exchanging automatic licence for manual
Listed are tips and advice that should help you when exchanging your automatic driving licence for a manual.
Take some driving driving lessons
If you already have a automatic driving licence, then you know how to drive. The UK driving test can however be a little strict in many areas and bad habits can evolve into a certain test fail if not remedied.
By taking driving lessons with a qualified driving instructor you will quickly gain confidence in using a gear stick (or stick shift) and will rectify any bad habits gained over the years. There is often many weeks waiting times for driving tests so passing first time is certainly beneficial. It is likely you will only need 3 to 5 hours of tuition and will save you time as you will likely pass first time. For a recap on the driving test or if you are new to the UK driving test, the section on How to pass the driving test will provide information on what is expected on the day.
The driving test
If you are in need of a driving licence exchange and need to book a test, bear in mind there are often large waiting times. It varies from test centre and can be from 2 weeks up to 12 weeks depending where you wish to take the test.
Often during the winter season driving tests can be cancelled due to bad weather. This occurs most on early morning test bookings due to fog or ice on the roads. Booking your test later on during the day is less likely to result in a cancellation. The examiner will inform you at the test centre if it is cancelled and the DSA will automatically assign you another test that may be many weeks later and at an inappropriate time.
If you are desperate to take a driving test as soon as possible, you can check the DSA website for cancellations and take that slot. If you are new to the UK, it may be worth checking out the test centre pass rates. Taking a driving test in a different area may gain slight benefit, especially if you are not familiar with the roads in the first place.
Driving manual car with automatic licence
It is illegal to drive a manual car if you are licenced to drive only automatics. If you are involved in an accident or caught by the police, you will technically be driving without a licence. Your car insurance will also be void, which would lead to significant problems if you are involved in an accident.
Exchanging foreign driving licence for UK
The DSA permit certain countries that fall into designated areas to exchange a foreign licence without the need to re-take the UK driving test. Certain countries such as Canada for example can exchange a licence for a UK licence within 5 years of becoming UK resident although unless proof is obtained that you passed the driving test in manual transmission vehicle, then you will be issues an automatic driving licence only.
If you are issued an automatic driving licence, you will need to take the UK driving test in a manual car to qualify for a full UK manual driving licence.
Areas that fall outside of the DSA's designated areas such as Indian driving licence are permitted to drive for up to 12 months on their current licence. Within this 12 months, a provisional driving licence will need to be applied for, take and pass the theory test and when the theory test has been passed, a practical driving test can be booked. For further information on obtaining a provisional driving licence and booking tests, visit the How to start learning to drive section. The Directgov website will provide information for which countries fall into the designated areas and those that don't.