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Driving on a UK license in Florida - problems and helpful tips?

Driving on a UK license in Florida - problems and helpful tips?

Old Jan 26th 2022, 10:47 am
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Default Driving on a UK license in Florida - problems and helpful tips?

Hello all,

We are moving from London to Florida in 3-4 months (L1 visa). My company will provide me with the car for the first month. I’ve been told I can on the UK license. Correct?


The traffic system is very different from the UK. So, wondering if folks take driving lessons in the US before driving around by themselves?
  • If it is advisable to take lessons before driving, then would I have to register myself with an authority before I am eligible for any driving lesson?
  • In Florida, for how long can I drive on my UK license?
  • Is it a problem if I don’t have an international driving license?
  • When and how people who move from the US to the US start the process to obtain the driving license (espl. in Florida)? I guess it have to be immediately because there is no public transport available.
Thanks in advance!
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Old Jan 26th 2022, 11:32 am
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Default Re: Driving on a UK license in Florida - problems and helpful tips?

Originally Posted by Itwillrain View Post
Hello all,

We are moving from London to Florida in 3-4 months (L1 visa). My company will provide me with the car for the first month. I’ve been told I can on the UK license. Correct?


The traffic system is very different from the UK. So, wondering if folks take driving lessons in the US before driving around by themselves?
  • If it is advisable to take lessons before driving, then would I have to register myself with an authority before I am eligible for any driving lesson?
  • In Florida, for how long can I drive on my UK license?
  • Is it a problem if I don’t have an international driving license?
  • When and how people who move from the US to the US start the process to obtain the driving license (espl. in Florida)? I guess it have to be immediately because there is no public transport available.
Thanks in advance!
Here is your starting point: https://www.flhsmv.gov/new-resident/
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Old Jan 26th 2022, 11:41 am
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Default Re: Driving on a UK license in Florida - problems and helpful tips?

You have 30 days from taking up residence in FL to get an FL DL.

Honestly, the driving system is not that different. Other side of the road, sure, but other than that practice defensive driving and you'll be fine. There is no need to take lessons IMO if you have been driving in the UK for any length of time. If you passed your UK test, your standard of driving is already WAY higher than the average Floridian.

I haven't looked at the FL website, but it is unlikely you can just exchange your UK license for a Florida one. You will most likely have to sit a written test (including general knowledge about road signs, stopping distances etc) and then take a practical 'test'

The test is a joke everywhere in this country.

I would recommend that you seek an appointment to take the 'theory' test as soon as possible after arriving, since you only have 30 days.
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Old Jan 26th 2022, 1:04 pm
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Default Re: Driving on a UK license in Florida - problems and helpful tips?

When we arrived in Houston, Texas I didn't bother with driving lessons. I arrived on a Saturday and an American colleague came out with me on the Sunday, mainly to show me how to navigate on and off I45, the feeder roads, the very short on ramps and the cloverleaf junctions. (Non is this required to pass a driving test). On the Wednesday I went for for my driving test, passed the written part but wasn't allowed to take the road test because Avis does not allow road tests. I said to the trooper, "So, it's okay for me to be driving around, even with you as a passenger, but not when taking the driving test?". He was extremely nice, and apologised explaining that they had specifically checked with rental car companies like Avis where "no road tests" in the rental agreement includes a driving test. I returned a couple of days later in my boss's company car and passed the test.
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Old Jan 26th 2022, 1:25 pm
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Default Re: Driving on a UK license in Florida - problems and helpful tips?

I went through this in NYC.

There you had to watch videos saying don’t drink drive for 6+ hours, I did that at a driving school who also then provided a car for the practical test to get around all the issues with rental cars etc.

The biggest difference driving here is how badly people drive, many don’t indicate (signal). People tailgate a lot. Depending where you are you can turn right on a red traffic light.

On the upside the roads are much wider and parking spots are bigger so this counters a lot of the above issues.
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Old Jan 26th 2022, 4:24 pm
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Default Re: Driving on a UK license in Florida - problems and helpful tips?

My new colleagues in Houston warned me about running a green light. They even had a recent news story from the Houston Chronicle pinned on the office news board about a driver in court for going through a red light and smashing into someone who hadn’t waited like they should have done for the folks who accelerate to try and beat the red light when it goes to amber. They claimed the other driver had “run” the green light “
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Old Jan 26th 2022, 4:27 pm
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Default Re: Driving on a UK license in Florida - problems and helpful tips?

I am a subscriber to a YT channel that posts dashcam footage from US crashes.

The stupidity behind the wheel is endless.

Here's the link for anyone who wants a chuckle:

https://www.youtube.com/c/DashcamLessons

Oh and public service announcement for anyone that doesn't have one. Get a dash am! The money invested can save you hundreds avoiding a deductible if it isn't your fault and there are no witnesses.

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Old Jan 26th 2022, 4:31 pm
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Default Re: Driving on a UK license in Florida - problems and helpful tips?

I agree with the above advice - no need for lessons unless you are a novice and nervous driver, the standard of driving in the US is terrible, and the road tests are an utter joke, but likely a significant contributing factor to the aforementioned terrible driving.

Apart from the "right on red" maneuver mentioned above, the one difference I would like to bring to your attention is how pedestrian lights work at crossroad junctions. You aren't likely to come across many pedestrians unless driving in a city center, but you need to be aware that the pedestrian lights give them a "walk"/ green light to cross the side roads at the same time as vehicles having a green light to go straight forwards. In other words at a crossroad junction, when vehicles have a green light, they still need to yield to pedestrians if turning left or right into the road at 90 degrees.

I took my test in New York, so also suffered the hours of mandatory "training", and yes, the road test was a joke - IIRC about 8 minutes, spent driving around a small grid-pattern housing estate, and the only tip I would give is that when you reach a STOP sign during your test (I believe you will certainly encounter at least one during your test) make sure to come to a complete stop at the white line on the road, even if you then need to roll forward to get a good view left and right before driving away. Otherwise I am certain you be fine in your test so long as you don't actually kill someone during the test!
Originally Posted by durham_lad View Post
.... someone who hadn’t waited like they should have done for the folks who accelerate to try and beat the red light when it goes to amber. They claimed the other driver had “run” the green light “
Green light = "go", Yellow light = "go faster", Red light = "three more cars allowed".

I have been rear-ended twice, once rather firmly* when slowing and stopping as the lights turned yellow and red, and had to take unusual evasive action to avoid another occasion when a builder's fully loaded, beat-up white van (I had just passed it, so knew what it looked like) was driving too close behind me, and too fast for comfort. I braked firmly, then rolled a little, and actually stopped entirely beyond the white line (there was plenty of room, it was a large junction), but I would have been wrecked if I had stopped at the line. So another tip: using your mirrors is even more important in the US than in the UK.

* Someone slammed their Hyundai saloon car into the back of my large pickup. I felt a firm bump, and got out to find that he had impaled his car's bumper on the square hitch receiver at the back of my truck. If he had done any damage to my truck it was no more than light scratching to the hitch receiver. His car had a neat square hole punched through the plastic bumper cover.

Last edited by Pulaski; Jan 26th 2022 at 5:40 pm.
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Old Jan 26th 2022, 5:02 pm
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Default Re: Driving on a UK license in Florida - problems and helpful tips?

Pavement = Road - this came up a few times in the written test so was worth knowing ahead of time. Was very confusing trying to understand why someone would rejoin the Pavement in their car.
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Old Jan 26th 2022, 5:45 pm
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Default Re: Driving on a UK license in Florida - problems and helpful tips?

One other thing - school buses are worshiped in the US, so never ever pass a school bus if it is stopped with its red lights flashing, even (especially) if you are driving in the opposite direction. So a single school bus stopped outside an apartment building (flats) picking up a couple of dozen kids can bring a four lane road to a standstill for 2-3 minutes while they all board or alight from the bus even if all the kids are just walking across the sidewalk and into the apartments, so nowhere near the traffic, much less actually crossing the road.

Generally you can pass a stopped school bus going the opposite way if there is a median (central reservation), between you and the bus but you need to check the precise rules for Florida as they vary slightly from state to state. For example in NC, a five lane road (two lanes each way plus a centre turn lane) is treated as a road with a median, but this isn't true in all states.

Last edited by Pulaski; Jan 26th 2022 at 5:52 pm.
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Old Jan 26th 2022, 9:42 pm
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Default Re: Driving on a UK license in Florida - problems and helpful tips?

Get any exam you choose to take booked quickly on arrival. There was a 6 week wait for appts at the local DMV here in SE FL last year.
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Old Jan 26th 2022, 11:00 pm
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Default Re: Driving on a UK license in Florida - problems and helpful tips?

Originally Posted by anotherlimey View Post
Get any exam you choose to take booked quickly on arrival. There was a 6 week wait for appts at the local DMV here in SE FL last year.
Historically driving out into the boonies to take your road test has been good advice in most states - I myself avoided a 10 week wait for a local test and took one the very next week by driving from the suburbs of NYC into the wilds of upstate New York, but I hear that may not be as true under pandemic conditions. .... Though I am not sure if the pandemic was ever officially acknowledged in Florida.
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Old Feb 1st 2022, 1:12 am
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Default Re: Driving on a UK license in Florida - problems and helpful tips?

Originally Posted by robtuck View Post
Pavement = Road - this came up a few times in the written test so was worth knowing ahead of time. Was very confusing trying to understand why someone would rejoin the Pavement in their car.
failed the written test because of that confusion. Had to come back the next day and try again….
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Old Feb 2nd 2022, 6:52 pm
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Default Re: Driving on a UK license in Florida - problems and helpful tips?

Originally Posted by Pulaski View Post
Someone slammed their Hyundai saloon car into the back of my large pickup. I felt a firm bump, and got out to find that he had impaled his car's bumper on the square hitch receiver at the back of my truck. If he had done any damage to my truck it was no more than light scratching to the hitch receiver. His car had a neat square hole punched through the plastic bumper cover.
Precisely why I have a prominent tow hitch on my F150. Makes people think twice before tailgating too closely.
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Old Feb 2nd 2022, 6:55 pm
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Default Re: Driving on a UK license in Florida - problems and helpful tips?

Originally Posted by LegalEagleTX View Post
Precisely why I have a prominent tow hitch on my F150. Makes people think twice before tailgating too closely.
Yeah that's a bad idea. The locks have a tendency to rust and they then snap and allow the hooks to fly off. I have seen multiple cases of this shattering the windshields of divers behind you. I remove mine when not in use.
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