To meet the criteria for a full UK driving license you normally have to be resident in the UK. Nevertheless, particular regulations for the exchange of foreign licenses and for driving in the UK as a visitor or new resident do actually exist. These regulations differ and are dependent on the country that issued the license.
Unless you are a normally resident (a normal residence is the place where you normally live and the place where you have personal and professional attachments) in the United Kingdom, you will not be provided with a full GB license. If you were a permanent resident in another state of the EC/EEA, you are required to have been normally resident or if you are student you are required to have been studying in the UK for 6 months in the preceding 12 months prior to your submission for a driving test or provisional license. Be aware, that you might have to provide proof or evidence of this.
You will not be able to replace licenses from countries other than EC/EEA countries but you can drive here using your existing non GB license or International Driving Permit for up to one year. If you do not have a driving license but you meet the criteria of a normal resident, and you want to start driving lessons in order to take your test you will need to apply for a GB provisional license using application form D1. These can be obtained online, or at your local post office.
Below is the list of countries that you can use your license to drive in the UK for up to one year:
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Liechtenstein, Iceland, Norway.
You can also exchange a full valid car license issued from any of the following countries:
Australia, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland, Zimbabwe.