Transport & Travel

all you need for relocation to scotland: edinburgh

Roads & Driving in Scotland

Who can drive in Scotland? | Driving rules | Driving age | Speed limitSpeeding | roads designation | Traffic signs | Motorways | Mileage chart 

Who can drive in Scotland and the UK?

If you are only visiting Scotland (and the UK) and you did obtain your driving licence in one of the EU/EEA countries then you are allowed to drive the vehicle for which you hold your licence for a period of up to 12 months after entering the UK.

If you are a resident in the UK and you hold a EU/EEA licence, you are allowed to drive the vehicle for which you hold your licence until aged 70 or for three years after becoming resident, whichever is the longer period, if your vehicle is a car or a motorcycle. 

practical-info.png Practical info!

EU/EEA countries are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Republic of Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Portugal, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain and Sweden.

If you are 70 years old or older and you want to continue driving in the UK, you are required to swap your licence for a British driver's licence (you will not have to take a UK driving test).

The following link will explain what you need to do to exchange your foreign driving licence.

If you did not obtain your driving licence in one of the EU/EEA countries, then please check whether you can drive in the UK and for how long.

Driving Rules

warning-32.png The first rule to know when you are travelling to the UK with your vehicle from abroad is that you must drive on the left hand side of the road.

It is not as difficult as you might think to switch from left to right. The hardest thing to remember is to use your left hand to change gears. Your feet behave quite normally in comparison as clutch is left, brake is middle and gas is right.

practical-info.png  Practical info!

If you have just arrived in Edinburgh and are planning to drive soon for the first time, one good tip is to get on a double decker bus, sit at the top on the front seat (right hand side if possible) and watch the traffic. You will see everything from the driver's perspective. It feels like driving without actually driving.

Driving age

•17 years old for cars or motorcycles

•18 years old for medium-sized vehicles

•21 years old for lorries and buses

Speed limits

The UK has launched a consultation to decide whether or not to raise the speed limit on the country's motorways from 70 mph to 80 mph (roughly 113 kph to 130 kph). But how does that compare with our European neighbours?


If you are caught speeding by the police, they may enforce the following:

• Give you only a verbal warning

• Issue a Fixed Penalty Notice (a speeding ticket), with a fine of £60 and 3 penalty points

• Prosecute you for speeding

This will mean you will have to go to court, and could face a fine of up to £1,000 (£2,500 if you were speeding on the motorway), between 3 and 6 penalty points on your driving license, and a possible driving disqualification.

Roads designation

UK roads names UK speed limit France

M - Motorway e.g. M8

70 mph (110 kph)


A - Primary road e.g. A985

A roads are the best and most-used all-purpose roads in the UK

Single carriageway

Dual carriageway



60 mph (95 km/h)

70 mph (110 km/h)

Route Nationale

B - Secondary road e.g. B1106

They are second-class roads whose number is prefixed with the letter 'B'. Less wide-ranging than other classes of road, B-roads tend to be either minor country roads connecting villages, or town and city streets. B-road numbers are only ever three or four digits long.

60 mph (95 km/h)

Route Departementale

Know your traffic signs

Check this link to familiarize yourself with traffic signs for:




•Traffic calming

•parking signs

•road markings.


Motorways in the UK are free.

warning-32.png Remember that should you have a breakdown on a British motorway you should drive your vehicle onto the hard shoulder and park it as far to the left as possible, near an emergency roadside phone if you can. Turn on your vehicle's hazard warning lights.

Motorway services areas (service stations)

Motorway services areas (also called service stations) are located either between junctions (on-line sites), having their own entry and exit slip roads with a different site for each direction of travel or at junction sites. They are usually located at 30-mile (48 kms) intervals.

The following link opens a map showing where service stations are located throughout the UK.

Motorway services areas must provide the following facilities 24/24, 365 days a year:

• 2 hours free parking

 Access to all facilities for disabled people

 Free toilets and baby-changing facilities

 A free picnic and children's play area

• Fuel

• Snacks and hot drinks. Services are prohibited from selling alcohol as this might encourage drink driving. However, many now have video game areas and gambling areas with fruit machines and other electronic devices.

In 2007 an AA survey concluded that service areas had improved in the previous three years, but cleanliness and pricing were still major issues.

Motorway rest areas (lay-bys)

Motorway rest areas (also called lay-bys) are like motorway service areas, except that they do not provide fuel or food.

They can vary in size from a simple parking bay alongside the carriageway sufficient for one or two cars only, to substantial areas that are separated from the carriageway by verges and can accommodate dozens of vehicles. Rest areas can be found on motorways and major roads.

Motorway rest areas must provide the following facilities 24/24, 365 days a year:

• Free parking for up to two hours for all types of vehicle, including those making repairs

• Free toilets and hand-washing facilities for all road users

• Access to all facilities for disabled people

• Parent/carer and child facilities containing baby-changing amenities

 Access to a signed, free, private breastfeeding area

 Access to a cash-operated telephone

 A free picnic area, with at least 10 tables with seats for six

 Free play area for children.

Mileage chart

The link to VisitScotland has a useful mileage chart to  help you plot distances between Scotland and major towns and cities in England and Wales.

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