Before Arrival - Driving in the U.K

Driving in the U.K., as you can imagine, is different in many respects to what you may be accustomed. For starters, driving is conducted on the left side of the road. Operating a vehicle on the left side of the road will take time to adjust to, but you will adapt over the course of the first few weeks that you are here.

Another difference relating to U.K. driving is the roundabout. You may or may not be familiar with roundabouts, but once you begin driving here you will quickly discover how they work. Just remember that you always go around the roundabout to the left and that the vehicles coming from the right have the right of way.

If you decide to bring your U.S. spec vehicle (left-hand drive), you will find that driving on the "other side" of the road can pose some challenges, such as your ability to see around the cars in front of you. Additionally some vehicles will have to have the fog lights installed and headlights realigned to U.K. specifications.

U.K. spec vehicles are right-hand drive, are designed for operating on the left-side of the road, and are easily obtainable, plus they have the benefit of typically being very economical -- something that can help keep your cost of living lower. U.K. spec vehicles are typically equipped with manual transmissions; automatics are far less common in the U.K. than in the U.S., but they can be found.

Whether you drive a left-hand or right-hand drive vehicle in the U.K. doesn't matter; it's personal preference. You may find that driving here can be challenging, especially for the first few weeks while you acquaint yourself with the customs of the road and the narrow lanes. Once you have become accustom to driving here, however, it will most likely become second nature.

Requirements to drive

Drivers MUST have a 3rdAir Force driver's license to operate a vehicle on base and to obtain fuel from the base service station, as well as the service stations at other USAF bases in the U.K.

Driving in the U.K. is a privilege, not a right. All personnel assigned to RAF Lakenheath who require driving privileges:

■ Must take the 3rd Air Force Driver's Training class within 30 days of arrival and pass the written exam
■ Must have a valid U.S. driver's license (not provisional or restricted)
■ Must possess the 3rd Air Force driver's license to operate a vehicle on base
■ Must be 17 years old or older

You and your dependants (if applicable) will attend the driver's briefing during in-processing with the Airmen and Family Readiness Center. The exam will be administered during that time.

Where do I go for information?

■ Visit the Highway Code website at the following link to prepare in advance for the written exam:
■ Visit the Military Installations website at the following link to obtain further information about driving in the U.K., as well as shipping your personally owned vehicle and registering it on base:,P4_CONTENT_TITLE,P4_CONTENT_EKMT_ID,P4_CONTENT_DIRECTORY:4690,Motor Vehicles,,34.