Legal Requirements

If you have your own car or motorbike you must have a driving licence, road tax and vehicle insurance.

You must also have your car or motorbike checked every year by a mechanic to make sure it is safe to drive – this is called an M.O.T.

Find out about the legal requirements for using a car or motorbike on the road on the GOV.UK website.

Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA)

Check if your driving licence is valid for the UK

If you moved to the UK from an EU country

You can drive in Great Britain on a full, valid driving licence from any EU country. If you were younger than 67 when you became a resident in the UK, you can drive on your EU licence until you’re 70. If you were 67 or older when you became a resident, you can drive on your EU licence for 3 years after that point.

You can exchange your EU licence for a British licence when you can’t drive on it anymore. Find out more:

Exchange Foreign Driving Licence

If you moved to the UK from outside the EU

You can drive in Great Britain on a full, valid driving licence for 12 months from when you became resident. After 12 months you’ll need to apply for a provisional licence and pass the theory and practical driving tests to drive in Great Britain. Find out more

Passing a UK Driving Test

Traffic police

The police can stop a vehicle for any reason. If they ask you to stop, you should always pull over when it is safe to do so. You are breaking the law if you don’t.

If the police stop you, they can ask to see your:

  • driving licence
  • insurance certificate
  • MOT certificate

If you don’t have these documents with you, you must take the requested documents to a police station within 7 days.

Route planning

Some roads in Leeds can become very busy, especially during ‘rush hour’ when people are travelling to and from school or work. You could use an online route planner such as Google Maps or AA Route Planner to find the best routes.

Google Maps
The AA Route Planner

AA Route Planner also has a calculator to help you work out your approximate petrol costs

AA Mileage Calculator

Using bus lanes

There are many bus lanes in Leeds, particularly near the city centre. Be careful not to use these during certain hours as they are for buses and emergency vehicles only and you could be fined. Look out for road signs which show if there is a bus lane or bus gate (a road or section of road along which only buses may pass) and the hours you must not drive in them.

Driving rules

It is well known that the UK is one of the only countries to drive on the left hand side. But there are lots of other rules and advice you need to follow to drive safely and legally in Leeds or anywhere in the UK. These may be different from the country you previously lived in.

To find out more about driving in the UK you should read the Highway Code. The Highway Code is the national set of rules and advice for all road users which is available on the GOV.UK website:

The Highway Code

It is also a good idea to find out what common road signs and markings mean:

Know Your Traffic Signs


It is against the law to drive with more than the legal BAC (blood alcohol content) limit of 80 micrograms per 100 millilitres of breath. This may be different from the country you previously lived in. You can compare drink-drive limits from around the world on Driving Instructors Association (DIA):

Drunk Driving Law by Country

Drink-driving is extremely dangerous. It is difficult to know how much alcohol can affect your driving so the only way to stay 100% safe is to never drink any alcohol and drive. You could even be affected if you drive the morning after you have been drinking. The fine for being caught over the limit can be thousands of pounds and you may also lose your driving licence.


It is against the law to drive if you have taken over a certain amount of drugs. It is also against the law to drive if you have taken either illegal or legal drugs (including prescription medicine) and this has affected your driving.

If you are caught, you could be banned from driving for over a year, you could get up to 6 months in prison, or be fined up to any amount of money.

Using a mobile phone

It is against the law to use a mobile phone while driving in the UK. It is also very dangerous because it can cause you to be distracted. You can get 6 penalty points and a £2000 fine if you hold and use a phone, sat nav, tablet, or any other device that can send and receive data while driving or riding a motorcycle. You will also lose your driving licence if you passed your test within the last two years. You are allowed to use a phone if you are safely parked or in an emergency (if you need to call 999). Hands-free phones can be used but you can still be stopped by the police if they think you are distracted.


You and your passengers must wear a seatbelt if your vehicle has them fitted. You can get fined up to £500 if you don’t. Wearing your seatbelt can save your life, and the lives of other people in the car too. You must make sure that children are in the correct car seat for their height or weight until they reach 135 centimetres tall or their 12th birthday, whichever is first.


You will need to take notice of speed limits when you are driving as these can change frequently and may be different from the country you previously lived in. Also, remember that speed limit signs in the UK are in miles per hour (not km per hour).

Drivers who speed can be caught by police officers or speed cameras at the side of the road. Roads with speed cameras on them will have signs to warn you the camera is there.

If police catch you speeding, you risk:

  • Receiving a verbal warning
  • Being sent on a speed awareness course (which you also have to pay for)
  • Getting a speeding ticket (known as a Fixed Penalty Notice) plus a £100 fine and receiving 3 points on your driving licence
  • Being prosecuted, which means you go to court and could face a fine of up to £1,000 (£2,500 if you were speeding on the motorway) and a possible driving disqualification
  • You could be disqualified from driving if you build up 12 or more penalty points within a period of 3 years

Visit Britain is the website for the British Tourist Board. You can find a helpful list of tips for driving in the UK on the Visit Britain website:

Guide to Driving in the UK

Think! is the UK road safety campaign. You can find out more about safe driving and the law on the Think! website:



In Leeds city centre, you usually have two options for parking: pay and display parking on the street OR car parks. Make sure you buy the correct ticket for the length of time you need to park, and display your ticket clearly inside your vehicle otherwise you risk getting a parking ticket (fine).

You can find out more about parking locations and ticket costs on the Leeds City Council website

Parking in Leeds

Outside of the city centre, you can park on most streets unless they have yellow lines.

  • Double yellow lines mean you cannot park there anytime.
  • Single yellow lines mean you are not always allowed to park there so be careful. You need to look for a sign nearby which will tell you when you are not allowed to park there:
    Parking in Leeds

Last Updated: 28 May 2024

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