The warning comes from AA Business Services, which believes with increased international mobility and economic migration, the problem could get worse.
An AA spokesman said many fleet managers struggle to identify whether the licences they are presented with are legal documents and call the DVLA or AA International Motoring Services for advice. There are more than 110 different models of licence across the EU.
Among enquiries received on foreign driving licences, the AA found that several of the non-EU motorists were driving on a foreign licence that had become invalid. These included licences from Kenya, Swaziland, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Albania, Zimbabwe, the Philippines, Brazil, Pakistan, Turkey, South Africa and Croatia.
The AA discovered that one driver from Croatia had been behind the wheel of his car for almost 15 years without a valid licence. Of the enquiries received, 30% were business users working for UK companies who would be vicariously liable for their drivers’ actions in the event of an accident.
Paul Holmes, head of risk management at AA Business Services, said: ‘This is the tip of a very worrying iceberg as the EU continues to enlarge. If you are a fleet manager, how do you know if the licence you have been provided with is legal? It may look bona fide, but you have no immediate way of telling without reference to another body such as ourselves. We get a lot of requests from drivers and even the police.’
People coming to the United Kingdom from outside the EU are not legally required to possess an International Driving Permit, but it is required by some UK insurance companies in order for the policy to be valid.
The permit needs to be obtained from driver’s country of origin, normally prior to arrival in the UK. Valid for a year, the document is to verify translation of the existing overseas licence entitlement and validate the insurance cover. This is dictated by the International Road Traffic Convention of which the UK is a co-signatory.