Roy Beggs had written to Minister for Infrastructure, Nichola Mallon to urge for a change in regulations.
Roy Beggs, East Antrim UUP Assembly candidate said, “Following the outbreak of war in Ukraine, and the exodus of millions of refugees, the UK Government has sought expressions of interest from residents who wish to house Ukrainian refugees. Commendably, to date tens of thousands of people have responded to this call. In Northern Ireland, it has been brought to my attention that clarity was needed related to driving in NI utilising Ukrainian driver licences. If licensing arrangements are not changed, then Ukrainian driver licenses may not be adequate to enable those fleeing War to drive within NI.”
A new designation Order was to be introduced by the end of 2021, but Northern Ireland has failed to even complete the preparatory work required for this to happen. The rest of the UK has implemented the new changes but unfortunately NI is lagging behind. The Ulster Unionist East Antrim candidate had asked the Minister to urgently investigated the issue and ensure the required changes are implemented.
Jeremy Logan, CEO of the Driver and Vehicle Agency replied on behalf of the Minister, stating “ At present, Ukrainian driving licenses cannot be exchanged for Northern Ireland licenses as Ukraine is not currently designated for license exchange purposes. However, the holder of a Ukrainian driving license is authorised to drive small vehicles (such as cars and motorcycles) for a period of up to 12 months from the date the person becomes residents in Northern Ireland. To continue driving beyond this 12 month period, the person must first obtain a Northern Ireland provisional driving license and pass both theory and practical driving tests. However, the Department intends to introduce a new Designation Order to allow for the exchange of Ukrainian driving licenses. Preparatory work for the amending legislation is underway and it is planned that the new Designation Order will be brought into operation at the earliest opportunity during the new Assembly mandate.”
Roy Beggs said “It is welcome news that Ukrainian refugees will be able to drive cars and motorcycles for up to 12 months, once they become residents of NI. I welcome this clarification from the Department and I look forward to the new Designation Order being introduced in the next Assembly mandate so that Licences can be exchanges and Ukrainians would not face undue delays and unnecessary expense.”