Last year AFF’s overseas team dealt with a small number of enquiries where families overseas needed advice on issues related to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).

As a result of this AFF has established a point of contact within the DVLA who has successfully helped several army families assigned overseas who were facing fines, legal action and, in one case, court proceedings due to a lack of understanding of DVLA admin.

While the DVLA has a specific email address that can be used to ask questions ( uk), it has also responded to AFF’s request to answer some frequently asked questions about the process for taking second-hand vehicles overseas, concerns over addresses on UK driving licences, and renewing and relinquishing UK licences when overseas.


There are no special dispensations for serving personnel and their accompanying family – they are subject to the usual DVLA requirements.

If you plan to take a used vehicle (duty paid) overseas on assignment for more than 12 months, you need to ‘export’ the vehicle by sending in the export slip, which is section 5 of the V5C logbook, making sure to fill in the date of export and the country you are going to. This slip is used to update the vehicle record and generate any refund of vehicle tax if any is due.

If this isn’t done, the vehicle won’t have an export marker against it, so there will be no refund of vehicle tax, and reminder letters will continue to be sent out. Insurance issues may also be raised, as the vehicle will usually be insured at the new posting, rather than in the UK.


You should update the address on your driving licence every time you move – you can use a British Forces Post Office (BFPO) address. If this isn’t done and there is an incident, and the information is found to be incorrect, the driver could face a fine of up to £1,000.


AFF has reported to DVLA that some BFPO locations don’t appear as options on the online renewal system – this is currently being looked into. In the interim you should complete a D1 application and send it to DVLA by post.

You need to change the address for both your vehicle and driving licence, as the DVLA systems for each of these are not linked.

Failure to do this could lead to fines being sent to the wrong address and subsequent delays could mean more fines or offences being added.

You can sign up to view your driving licence and vehicle details in one place at


If you need a local driving licence overseas, then this should mean your UK driving licence is surrendered to that country’s driving authority. This would result in a marker being put on your record in the UK when the DVLA has been told that the exchange has taken place. When you return to the UK you can apply to exchange the local licence to a UK one. As long as it is a country that the UK has an exchange agreement with, this is free of charge. There would be a fee if the photo needs to be updated, however, and this cannot be done online.

The full DVLA FAQs can be found at General overseas postings -Driving and further information is also on

Maddi’s story

AFF has been a lifeline to me through one of the most stressful years I have experienced. We had been assigned to our first overseas assignment in October 2021 and I took my vehicle to Naples, thinking it was a great idea as we would have immediate transport. Plus, as we were expecting our firstborn by the end of the year, it meant we didn’t have to stress about transport in case of an emergency.

On arrival I transferred ownership of the vehicle to my husband as instructed and he completed the registration of the vehicle onto the Armed Forces Italy system. In January 2023 I received a phone call from an enforcement officer telling me that I had been taken to court, without my knowledge, for owning a vehicle in the UK without insurance and now owed a £600 fine or faced a warrant for my arrest.

I was left distressed and felt backed into a corner to pay the fine after threats to take possessions from my mother’s home as this was the last registered address of the vehicle. I provided the officer with my passport, visa, entry and exit stamps to and from the UK, as well as the assignment order, to state I no longer lived in the UK.

I was told I could appeal after explaining I had no knowledge of the offence and that the car was registered in Italy and that this was all one big misunderstanding.

After a few weeks of trying to appeal on my own, I found a British solicitor who was in Italy, spent numerous hours on the phone to various government departments and court systems and, with a 30-day time limit quickly slipping away, I talked to our Head of the NSE (National Support Element) who put me in contact with AFF.

From that point on, my seemingly impossible task suddenly felt achievable. Overseas Manager Esther supported me through the process, helping me with documents that I needed to provide, contacting the DVLA on my behalf and putting my case across that this unfortunate set of events was an admin error. This was such a relief. Without the help of AFF, I believe the outcome of my case could’ve been different.

Thanks to AFF’s hard work, my case was swiftly reviewed and ultimately decided that this was an admin error, we were simply not aware that we had missed some vital steps in fully transferring the car onto the system in Naples.

My advice is to do your own research beforehand, contact your NSE and ask questions if you need clarification on where you can find the relevant information.

Main photo: Maddi and baby


If you have any queries or comments on taking and driving a vehicle when posted overseas, email

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