Monday 26 June 2023


THE United Kingdom is refusing to recognise metal driver’s licences for Zimbabweans living in that country after government introduced new plastic licence discs early this month.

Government unveiled the Southern African Development Community (Sadc)-compliant plastic driver’s licences to replace the metal discs.

According to authorities, the new licence has 13 categories which conform to the requirement of the United Nations Convention on Road Traffic International Organisation for Standardisation and International Electro Technical Commission.

The changes have, however, brought new challenges to Zimbabwean immigrants in the UK who are failing to get their metal licences converted for use in that country.

NewsDay established that the UK’s Driver’s Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) is refusing to convert the licences saying the old metal licences no longer meet the criteria set by the Central Vehicle Registry (CVR) in Zimbabwe.

“The application is returned to you for the following reason/s:  “Your Zimbabwe licence does not meet the required criteria set by the CVR in Zimbabwe and we are experiencing difficulties in obtaining driving licence entitlement confirmation from Zimbabwe.

“To process your application, you need to obtain an original ‘Certificate of Competency’ before an exchange can be considered,” a response seen by NewsDay read.

A certificate of competency is a temporary licence valid for 30 days which is issued to drivers who have passed the practical test.

“Affected are a lot of care workers who have to drive from client to client providing their services. Also affected are Zimbabwean drivers in the UK who had been using their licences temporarily before converting,” a Zimbabwean living in the UK told NewsDay.

Transport and Infrastructural Development minister Felix Mhona did not respond to questions sent to him by NewsDay.

The Zimbabwean embassy in the UK, however, said it was privy to the situation and was in consultation with that country’s authorities over the matter.

“The embassy has been consulting with DVLA and they have specified that for purposes of converting a licence they will only accept the Certificate of Competency (Blue paper issued by CVR to a person who has completed their driving test in Zimbabwe) and without it they are not prepared to convert," consular officer for ambassador Tendai Chimbandi advised Zimbabweans in an email after they sought the embassy’s assistance.

“Regrettably, most people discard this document upon issuance of the metal disc.

“Without the Certificate of Competency, UK DVLA has insisted that to drive in the UK, an applicant will have to complete the practical and theory tests.”

Government says the licence discs  enable Zimbabweans to drive in Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Libya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia. Newsday


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