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Convert South African Licence to a British Licence: Excellent Assistance from the DVLA
Just after we moved into our new house in the UK I had my handbag stolen. Suddenly I was without a passport, bank cards and my driver’s licence.
I had a South African driver’s licence which I could use in the UK with the condition that it is converted to a UK licence within one year. This straightforward process suddenly turned into a logistic nightmare.
After some research on the Internet I found the RTMC’s website and applied for a certificate of proof of my South African driver’s licence. I was quite impressed with the service as South Africa is not known for efficient service from government departments. The initial certificate had some mistakes so I had to contact them again to correct that. All of this took time and with my South African licence expiring at the end of February 2011 I knew I had to act quickly.
I went to the DVLA’s office in Wimbledon in January 2011 hoping the certificate from South Africa and a copy of my stolen passport would be enough to apply for a British licence. I still didn’t have my new passport which I applied for in October 2010. The DVLA, however, wanted to see my original passport with my visa and not a copy. I was quite distressed and must say the officers were very understanding and helpful. One suggested that I write a letter to explain my situation and submit the application. Even if the head office refused it, I could at least prove that I did start the process. It made me feel a bit better, but I started having visions of redoing my licence in the UK and it wasn’t a pleasant idea.
I eventually got my new passport at the end of January. It was at the South African Embassy in Trafalgar Square from the end of December but they didn’t bother to notify me as they promised to do. Answering telephones is also not high on the Embassy’s priority list.
Now I had the passport but still no visa. I couldn’t go to the UKBA office in Croydon to have the visa replaced because my initial visa was wrong and therefore I had to post the passport with the letter from the Border Agency in South Africa to the UKBA. I called to ask if I can’t come in to the offices to do it, but there was no option, it had to be posted and they couldn’t give me and idea how long it would take.
The end of February was approaching quickly and I got quite desperate. I even called a lawyer to see if there was a way they could speed this up, but again there was nothing they could do.
I decided to call the DVLA to ask if there is any way I can apply for my driver’s licence after the expiry date if I submit proof of the fact that all my documents were stolen. The lovely lady at the DVLA had a far better solution. She said I could apply for my licence with my new passport even if I don’t have the visa yet. At the DVLA they can check the validity of the visa with the UKBA office in circumstances such as this. A load suddenly fell from my shoulders and I went back to the DVLA offices in Wimbledon the next day.
After four months without a licence I could suddenly drive again. It is sometimes just necessary to ask.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the author's and not necessarily those of UKresident.com or any entity associated with UKresident.com. This article is not checked for accuracy by any qualified immigration consultant or solicitor either represented on this site or otherwise. We will not be legally responsible for any statement made in this article. If you're going through the UK immigration process we strongly advise that you appoint a UK immigration consultant or immigration solicitor to deal with your case.
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