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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all! Made it to the UK a few weeks ago on my ancestry visa and couldn't be happier :)

So I started looking into exchanging my South African drivers for a GB licence and got the D1 forms today. I wanted to get clarification on a few things from folks with experience in the matter:

Do South Africans have to send their passports in with the application? Or does the South African drivers licence card count as ID? I know the Royal Mail is a damn sight better than the South African post office but wow would I be hesitant to post my passport!

Do we need to have stayed in the UK for 185 days? And do we need anything to prove that fact? I don't mind waiting 6 months to exchange it though, I just want to be sure. Earlier is always better!

There's a lot of conflicting information out there, some people say you have to exchange it in 3 months, some a year and gov.uk says 5 years as long as the licence is valid - which I presume is the most up to date and correct answer.

For anyone who's done the exchange does the GB licence reflect the South African licence's "First issue" date? For insurance purposes it would be nice to show you've been driving for 5+ years rather than a GB licence saying you got your first licence a month ago!

And one last question, with the DVLA local offices being shut down over the next few months is it worth still visiting them? I'd imagine some of the staff wouldn't be too motivated knowing they're about the lose their jobs and all :\

Thanks for any information!
 

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I would hesitate to answer all of your questions but when I moved from Zimbabwe to UK n 2001 I swapped my license and they gave me the date which I had on my Zim license which is usefull as you say. I also had a letter from my insurance company stating I had 60% no claim bonus which not all companies will use but I found one that did so hope this helps...
 

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The procedure is a) You have to be a UK resident, which means having lived here for at least 185 days; 2) Order form D1 from DVLA; 3) Send supporting documents including your passport (this is an absolute requirement, and you can't take the passport in person anywhere, nor can you send your driving licence as ID); 4) A fee of £50. You have 5 years from first entering UK to exchange your licence. You can drive on your SA licence for up to a year. Your new UK licence will carry the date of issue. For no claims discount, get a letter from your last SA insurer attesting to your claim-free record.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the answers guys! Really relieved about the date of first issue. Dismayed about the passport though D: I'd really not feel very secure with sending such a valuable document in the post. Is it not possible to get a police certified copy or take it to DVLA Swansea?

I'm a bit surprised they expect you to send passports in the post, I suppose it's ok if you're British and can get a replacement but if you're a foreigner and you lose your passport that'd be a world of hurt!
 

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Post it using Special Delivery - very safe, trackable and reliable. You cannot take it in person anywhere, not even to Swansea, and no copy of any kind is accepted. They used to do it at local DVLA office, but there were some scams so discontinued it and only use the trained staff at Swansea.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks Joppa! Knowledgeable as always although of course not the answer I was hoping for!

Out of morbid interest what would happen if someone were to lose their passport? Especially with an ancestry visa that couldn't be re-applied for in the UK.
 

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I was hesitant to send my Passport as well but as Joppa said use special delivery. Also buy a returning special delivery post and add it inside so that the DVLA can return your passport with special delivery.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Definitely looks like that's the way to do it. I'm sure it's very seldom that anything goes wrong but it's still obviously a lot to worry about.
 

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FreshFromTheGrave said:
Definitely looks like that's the way to do it. I'm sure it's very seldom that anything goes wrong but it's still obviously a lot to worry about.
Yeah I agree. I really didn't want to send in my original documents (passport, marriage certificate) as I'm always afraid the post will lose it. But they reassured me with special delivery it's delivered like within the next day and you can get signed delivery so that you know it was actually delivered and signed for. They only had my documents for roughly 2 weeks and sent them back just the way I had them.
 

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Lesson one on moving from SA to UK....

Incompetence, corruption and crime are only a fraction of what they are in SA :nono:

Your passport will be fine in the post - this is how UKBA send out new passports all year round :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
That's very true but there are still enough reports online about lost passports to make one worry! Suppose you could always stick a label on the back with your address :p I do however keep finding reference to this:

[ARCHIVED CONTENT] Premium checking service : Directgov - Motoring

A premium checking service but not the same one offered at the Post Office branches and all DVLA branches. It's one specifically for those from designated countries (South Africa being one of them) that is only offered at Wimbledon, Nottingham, Glasgow and the main reception at Swansea. It seems to suggest from what I've read in other discussions that you wouldn't need to hand over your passport although I could be wrong.
 

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This service was withdrawn because there were some scams (i.e. people presenting forged documents), as I have said. You have no choice but to post your passport to Swansea (they have no facility for in-person service).
 

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Just use overnight postage if you that worried! I exchanged my SA drivers using overnight and although it was a bit more expensive I could rest assured that I was able to track my passport. Btw I had it back within 10 days and my British drivers license was received 3 days prior. They sent my passport Back in the self payed envelope I sent. Please keep in mind that you will loose your SA drivers license as they send it back to the country of origin.
 

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Please keep in mind that you will loose your SA drivers license as they send it back to the country of origin.
Yes, they do that to stop people using their foreign licence to take penalty points etc, though they usually check whether you have UK licence first before endorsing your foreign licence.
 

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We used Royal Mail special delivery overnight by 1pm the next day with tracking for both sending and return envelope which includes up to £500 insurance. It cost almost £13 total for both envelopes. Be sure to write the tracking number down on the return envelope before sealing it in the other envelope because they only print the last tracking number for the outer envelope on the receipt.

We did not do a licence exchange but had to apply for provisional licence. It took about 2 weeks total to get our passports back in the mail. Our provisional license took another day or so in the mail as they sent it regular mail in a separate envelope. We decided to do one at a time so both of us would not be stuck in country in case our kids had an emergency in the states. I was going crazy the whole time my passport was gone knowing I was stuck in the uk and could not travel anywhere. I survived it in the end in spite of my anxiety. :)
 

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When I traded in my Canadian license, I sent in my B R P instead of my passport and I sent it special delivery recorded and enclosed a self addressed stamped envelope (with special delivery recorded postage on it) for them to return my BRP... I figured that the BRP would be way easier to replace than my passport (it takes 4 weeks for the Canadian high commission to replace it) so if it got lost, I could still leave the country.

I got everything back (new UK license AND my BRP) in 10 calendar days after I applied.
 
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