United Kingdom Country Profile - Travel

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There is a good network of motorways and main roads connecting all major cities and towns in the UK. To legally drive a UK-registered vehicle, you need a valid driving licence, road tax and insurance certificate for your use. Older vehicles also need an MOT certificate.

Driving licences are issued in the UK by the DVLA, and the minimum age to drive a car is 17. Foreign nationals living in the UK may be allowed to drive on non-British licences or exchange a non-British licence for a British one.

If you take your car with you to the UK for a visit, it does not need to be registered. However, if you stay for an extended period or become a UK resident, you must register your vehicle as imported.

Taxis and minicabs

Taxis are readily available in all major UK towns and cities and are usually metered. They can be pre-booked, hailed in the street or found at taxi ranks. Minicabs – also known as private hire vehicles – must be pre-booked. Journey costs vary depending on location and time of day, but they are generally more expensive in London and the south than elsewhere in the country.


Local bus services operate in all towns and cities, offering a relatively cheap and easy way of getting around. Be aware of the timetable though – many services are less frequent on evenings, weekends and bank holidays.


A number of coach operators offer road transport between major cities across the UK. This is usually slightly cheaper than travelling by train, but journey times can be longer.


The UK rail network offers fast intercity connections between all major cities, and there are also regular local trains serving smaller cities and towns. Rail tickets are usually cheaper if bought in advance and there are a number of railcards and concessions available for discounts on rail travel. Many stations also offer car parking facilities, although costs vary quite a lot.

Trams and underground rail

Several UK cities have alternative public transport systems, the most famous being the London Underground, or the ‘Tube’ as it is known. Glasgow also has a subway system, while major cities including Manchester, Birmingham and Nottingham run light railway or tram services designed to relieve pressure on the roads.

Air travel

There are several international airports located in or near UK cities including London, Manchester, Birmingham, Cardiff, Belfast and Edinburgh. London Heathrow is among the world’s busiest airports, serving over 180 destinations in 85 countries worldwide. The large numbers of airlines operating flights within Europe mean that fares to most European destinations can be purchased relatively cheaply. Domestic flights also operate between major UK airports and are fairly inexpensive.

Planning a journey

The UK’s extensive public transport network offers various ways of getting around depending on your location. If you’re not sure what the best option will be, the Traveline website provides route planning for all modes of public transport.

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