Temporary car insurance for non-UK residents

If you live abroad and you’re planning to hit the road in the UK in a borrowed car, temporary car insurance might be the right route for you.

If you’re coming to the UK from abroad, either as a visitor or an expat, and you’re planning to drive while you’re here, you can use this guide to work out what’s involved in getting temporary car insurance for non-UK residents and how to choose the best policy.

Do I need temporary car insurance as a non-UK resident?

You might need temporary car insurance in the following situations if you are planning a trip to the UK:

  • You’re borrowing someone else’s car. Adding a named driver to an existing policy is typically not cheap. If you are planning to borrow a family member’s or a friend’s car for your visit, temporary cover is a better option, with the additional advantage of preserving their no-claim bonus.
  • You put your vehicle in storage in the UK but want to use it some of the time. The storage facility may provide its own insurance while the car is stored (although make sure you check this), but if you then want to use the car for a short time, you’ll need temporary car insurance.

You’re unlikely to need temporary car insurance in the following situations:

    • You hire a car. Your car rental company will usually provide insurance. A basic cover option should normally be included in the initial price, and you can choose to pay more to reduce the excess or increase the cover level.
    • You’re bringing a vehicle with you from abroad and you’ve insured it in the EU, Andorra, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Serbia, Switzerland or any of the countries on this list. In that case, you’ll just need to bring proof of your existing insurance and your insurance “green card”.

Can visitors to the UK get temporary car insurance?

Not all companies offer short-term car insurance for non-UK residents: some will only accept people who have lived in the UK for at least 3 years. Nevertheless, it is absolutely possible to find companies that offer temporary cover to UK expats and foreign visitors looking to drive in the UK for a short time, including some specialist insurers that have dedicated options for these kinds of circumstances.

However, just because an insurance policy is marketed as “expatriate insurance”, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right policy for you: other providers may be able to provide you with the same cover for a cheaper price.

It’s important to compare prices and do some careful research because different insurance providers will have different eligibility criteria:

      • You’ll need to hold a driving licence issued in one of the accepted countries. Insurance companies typically accept EU licences and those issued in the EEA, South Africa, Switzerland, Australia and New Zealand. However, some providers only accept UK driving licences and won’t cover you if you have a foreign licence.
      • Some companies might only provide temporary insurance to current or former UK residents, while others will also accept visitors and tourists who have never lived in the country.
      • Insurers will usually require you to have held your licence for at least 3 months.
      • Some companies will only insure drivers within certain age limits.
      • Many insurers require that you haven’t recently committed any motor offences.
      • The vehicle you are planning to drive will normally need to be registered in the UK.

What can I use temporary car insurance for?

You can use it to drive someone else’s car during a personal and/or business trip for a set time. Most short-term temporary insurance policies go by the hour (in some cases by the minute) and can last up to a month.

Your trip will usually need to start and finish in the UK, but in some cases, you might also be able to purchase cover for trips within the European Union.

What does temporary car insurance cover as a non-UK resident?

Just like most types of car insurance, it depends on the insurer. Some features will be optional; others will be included in the basic cover along with standard third-party insurance. Think about whether you want to pay extra for the peace of mind that comes with breakdown cover or added protection in case of loss and theft.

The following are the general rules for buying any kind of insurance:

      • Always get more than 1 quote.
      • Make sure you understand what your policy covers and what it doesn’t.
      • Be clear on what happens if you need to make a claim.

How much does temporary car insurance cost for non-UK residents?

As with any kind of insurance, the cost will depend on a number of factors relating to you, your driving record, the vehicle, the kind of policy you take out and even where you park. Find out more in our guide on the cost of car insurance.

Be aware that temporary car insurance is likely to cost more per day than the equivalent cost of an annual policy (although it’s almost certainly less expensive than paying for a whole year of insurance when you only need one month) and be prepared to pay more than you would as a UK driver. This is largely because insurance providers expect drivers from abroad to be less experienced at driving on UK roads and, therefore, at more risk of getting into an accident.

How can I save on my car insurance as a foreign driver?

Read the guide we linked to above, do as much research as you can and answer the following questions:

      • Is temporary car insurance going to work out cheaper than getting an annual policy and cancelling it when you don’t need it anymore?
      • Will the insurance provider you’re looking at take into account a no-claims bonus you’ve earned elsewhere?
      • What level of cover do you really need?

The more you know, the better equipped you’ll be to find ways to save.

Should I change my licence to a UK one?

That depends on how long you’re staying in the UK. If you’re not a UK resident, you won’t be able to exchange your licence for a UK one, but you may be able to drive in the UK for up to 12 months on your foreign licence or longer if it’s a licence from the EU.

If you become a resident in the UK, you can exchange your licence. You may not need to, depending on where your licence was issued, but you’re likely to get cheaper car insurance if you do. Find out more about driving on a non-UK licence on gov.uk.

Can I get mid-term car insurance if I’m here for more than 3 months?

There are a few companies offering mid-term car insurance, but it’s not very common. The majority of short-term insurers limit it to about a month.

This means that if you want to get cover for a longer period, you will need to take out several different monthly policies. It’s still an option, but the longer you need it for, the more expensive it will get.

At that point, you’ll want to look at the alternatives: you can take out a standard yearly policy, or get yourself added to the vehicle’s owner’s policy (if you are borrowing the car).

What are my insurance options if I plan to move to the UK permanently?

You can use temporary car insurance for the first few weeks while you are getting settled. Since temporary insurance isn’t very cost effective if you need to drive a car for longer than that, you’ll need either a new insurance policy if you’re buying your own car or to be added to someone else’s existing policy if you’re going to be sharing a car.

What if I want to insure a car in the UK while I’m living abroad?

You’re required to insure your car, even if you don’t drive it, unless you register it as off the road through a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN) with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). You’ll need standard long-term cover – look for insurers who accept non-UK residents as customers.

Would you recommend temporary car insurance for non-UK residents?

Danny Butler

Finder insurance expert Danny Butler answers

It depends on your circumstances, including how long you plan to spend in the UK and what other options are open to you.

Temporary car insurance can make a really good deal if you only need to drive occasionally. The best part is that if you are planning to spend, say, a month in the UK, but only use the car a few times, you don’t have to be insured for the whole month. You can just take out a new policy every time you need it, even if that’s just for 2 hours a week.

However, since your options for getting insurance may already be more restricted than they would be as a UK licence holder, it’s worth checking out the alternatives.

Would it be cheaper to take out an annual policy, cancel it when you don’t need it anymore, and pay the cancellation fee? If you’re visiting someone, how much would it cost for them to add you to their insurance policy (if they’re comfortable with that, bearing in mind that they could lose their no-claims bonus if you need to make a claim)?

If you have the time before your trip, it’s worth doing the research. After all, whatever you’re coming to the UK to do, whether it’s shopping, visiting tourist attractions or just going to the pub, I’m sure you can think of better uses for your money than paying too much to insure your car.

Bottom line

If you’re planning to drive anything other than a rental car while you’re visiting the UK, temporary car insurance is almost certainly what you need.

Temporary car insurance for non-UK residents is likely to be harder to come by than it would be for a UK licence holder, but that doesn’t mean you have to settle for the first provider you find. Because it’s likely to be more expensive per day than you’d typically expect to pay for car insurance, it’s important to compare premiums against your other options and to shop around for the best price.

Frequently asked questions

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