What Britons in Austria need to know about exchanging UK driving licences

One of the many knock on effects of Brexit is that Britons who are resident around Europe will have to exchange their UK driving licences and it's the same in Austria.

What Britons in Austria need to know about exchanging UK driving licences

As well as having to apply for a new post-Brexit residency permit, Britons in Austria are also required to exchange their UK driving licence for one issued in Austria.

This requirement is the same for Brits living around the EU although the process is obviously different and the deadlines vary depending on which EU country they are in. 

June 2021?

The first thing to note is that you should have time to make the exchange.

Initially the deadline set for exchanging licences was December 31st 2020 to coincide with the end of the Brexit transition period.

But a draft law being pushed through by the Austrian government, which should come into effect in mid-December, will extend the deadline for applications to June 30th 2021.

In a recent Facebook Q&A the British embassy in Austria confirmed: “If you are resident in Austria, according to a draft update to Austrian law, you will have 6 months from 1st January to swap your driving licence.”

After this date the embassy warns the UK licences “will cease to be valid”. For anyone wishing to get an Austrian licence after this date, things get more complicated and they may have to take a driving test as is the case for some third-country nationals who fail to exchange their licence within 6 months.

But do I really need to exchange it?

This is a question mainly being asked by Brits who are not full time residents in Austria. Many spend part of the year in the country and the rest of the time in the UK.

Brexit is now forcing them to make a choice where they wish to be resident. From January onwards Brits will be treated like third-country nationals in EU states which mean they are subject to the 90-day rule. That means they can only spend 90 days out of every 180 in the Schengen zone.

So second home owners or those who usually spend a long period of time in Austria will have to decide whether or not to become resident and this has an impact on whether they need to exchange their UK driving licence for an Austrian one.

The British embassy says: “If you are legally resident in Austria it is important that you swap your UK licence for an Austrian one, or, according to a draft update to Austria's law, it will cease to be valid from 30th June 2021. Please be aware that if you spend more than six months in the year outside of Austria, this may affect your right to residence.”

In a response to a similar question the embassy said: “We recommend that, if you live in Austria you should swap your UK license for an Austrian one. Based on a draft update to Austrian law: if you live in Austria, your UK license will cease to be valid here from 30th June 2021 and you would have issues exchanging it after that point.”

And if you have another EU licence?

For those who have already exchanged their British licence for one from another EU country such as Germany the British embassy says: “If you have an licence from another EU country, you are not required to exchange your licence when you move within the EU. However, if you are, or intend to be, a long-term resident, it may be advisable to exchange your licence for an Austrian one.”

What about for those moving after December 31st?

The rules for Britons moving to Austria in the future, who won't be covered by the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, have not been laid out.

But the Austrian government's rules for other non-EU nationals demand that anyone who has become a resident in Austria has six months from the moment they become resident in which to exchange their licence.

What do we know about the process?

Well it's likely the process is slightly different depending on the local authority you apply to (see below).

But according to the government these are documents you will need:

The Austrian government says that most driving licence authorities require the original documents plus copies.

If you are converting your British licence you'll need the following documents, but also be aware the local authority may also ask you to provide more.

  • Your passport
  • UK driving licence
  • Passport size photo (35 mm x 45 mm) of the owner 
  • Possibly a translation of driving licence 
  • Possibly Residence Registration Form [Bestätigung der Meldung] 

Who do you apply to?

The government says you must apply to your local driving licence authority.

That means:

  • In cities with Federal Police Headquarters it's the Federal Police Headquarters [Landespolizeidirektion]. 
  • In Vienna you should apply to the Motor Vehicle Department [Verkehrsamt].
  • In cities without Federal Police Headquarters or in Municipalities it's the district administrative authority [Bezirkshauptmannschaft]
  • In the statutory cities of Krems and Waidhofen/Ybbs: the Municipal Authority [Magistrat]
  • For the statutory city of Rust: the Federal Police Headquarters Burgenland[Landespolizeidirektion Burgenland]

The Austrian government says: “No matter what the reason for the conversion of an EEA or a European Union driving licence is, the authority must always send a request to the state which issued the driving licence in order to ensure that there are no reasons against the issuance of an Austrian driving licence. This request can take several weeks.”

How much does it cost?

According to the government the fee for exchanging the licence is €60.50 and for an “express production” you will pay an additional €18,94.

For more information on driving licence exchanges and other Brexit related questions you can visit the British in Austria website.

And for more details on the process you can visit the Austrian government's website.

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