British Driving Licences: The most powerful in the world

5th August 2015

The below interactive infographic has been created by Australian insurance comparison website - Captain Compare.

It ranks driving licences in the order of how widely accepted they are globally, as well as displaying the countries where licences can be used, together with the relevant restrictions that apply in each country.


According to recent research, British and French driving licences are the most powerful, which makes it much easier for travellers from these countries to drive abroad.

Related Article: The Call Wiser guide to Holiday Car Hire

British drivers are able to drive in Spain, Italy and Sweden on a permanent basis, without having to complete a test or follow any other regulatory requirements.

The UK licence is valid for 12 months in Finland, Japan, Hong Kong and New Zealand and can exchange it for a local licence without having to perform a test and it is a similar story in Canada and Russia, but the switch must take place after six months instead of twelve.

Related Article: DVLA announces extension to Driving Licence ‘check code’ validity

German licences are not far behind the British and French, closely followed by Sweden, then Belgium, Finland, Spain and Italy.

According to the data collected by Captain Compare, the USA lags 17 points behind the UK and Sweden is the only country that allows American motorists to drive without any restriction.

Although the British driving licence is widely accepted, motorists should be aware of a few local laws. For example, although UK documents are valid;

  • In France - It is a legal requirement to carry a breathalyzer
  • In Spain - If you wear prescription glasses, by law, you must carry a spare pair in your vehicle.
  • In Italy - All vehicles must carry a reflective jacket (red or yellow) and a warning triangle in case of breakdowns.
  • In Sweden - Even in the daytime, you must ensure your headlights are always switched on and set to dipped beam.

The infographic, also contains a number of interesting facts, including:

  • There is only one ‘STOP’ sign in the whole city of Paris
  • Picking up hitchhikers is illegal in Russia
  • In order to reduce reindeer related car accidents, the Finnish Reindeer Herders Association have begun spraying reindeer's antlers in reflective paint to make them more visible.

Do you know any interesting driving laws? Have you had any bizarre experiences driving in a foreign country? Comment below:

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