Find a driving instructor DVSA Approved (ADI)

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How to find an Approved Driving Instructor

An easy way to find an ADI is by using the government’s online search portal for driving instructors. It will only show you instructors that have passed enhanced criminal record checks and passed their exams to be fully qualified. You’ll also see if they are taking part in Continual Professional Development courses and if they commit to abiding by the ADI Code of Practice.

Approved  (ADI) v Provisional (PDI)

An ADI (Approved Driving Instructor) is a fully qualified driving instructor registered with the DVSA. They had to take exams to become skilled and may also take Continuous Professional Development courses. They will display a blue badge on their windscreen for identification.

A PDI (Potential Driving Instructor) is a driving instructor training to be an ADI but has yet to pass their exams. They will display a pink badge on their windscreen.

We recommend choosing to learn with an ADI. A PDI has yet to prove their abilities, and it is safer to select an ADI.

What to consider when you select your driving instructor

The driving instructor you choose plays a big part in determining how quickly you pass your driving test. They’ll be with you every step of the way – so look beyond just what you’re paying per hour and think about who can motivate you to build your driving skills.

It could take a few tries before you find the right driving instructor for you. Make sure you chat with a potential instructor first to gauge your rapport. Ask them questions about issues you’re concerned about when on the road. Do you feel like they’ve put your mind at rest?

Remember, you’re probably going to be spending 40 hours plus in a car together. So this needs to be someone you feel comfortable with, who will keep things interesting, and that can motivate you if things get tough.

You and your instructor should work together with a common goal: becoming a safe and responsible driver. So, before you decide, ask yourself: is this someone I could learn to drive with?

Here’s a list of things to discuss with your potential instructor:

  • Will you be picked up from work or home?
  • What car will you be using?
  • Is the car manual or automatic?
  • Would you like daytime or evening lessons?
  • Will he support you with revision for the theory test?
  • Will you be going on the motorway during the lessons?
  • Would you like your lessons in a foreign language?
  • Are you looking for an intensive or semi-intensive course?


There are nearly 40,000 Approved Driving Instructors in the UK, of which Grade A are 35% & Grade B 65%.

Source: DVSA, 2019

Young women learner driver having driving lesson with an approved driving instructor

What happens in your first driving lesson?

We thought you might like an idea of what to expect from your first driving lesson.

While you will be getting behind the wheel, it’s unlikely your driving instructor will be taking your out on the road just yet. Instead, he’ll drive you to a quiet area, such as an empty car park, to teach you some of the basics:

  • Introducing the cockpit drill – the basic checks you should do every time you get in the car.
  • Show you around the car controls.
  • Show you clutch control.
  • Safely move and stop.

Before you head off to your first lesson, remember to bring the following:

  • Your provisional driving licence – you won’t be able to drive without it!
  • Comfy shoes (we advise against flip flops)
  • Glasses, if you need them.
  • A bottle of water.

ADI Code

When booking your driving lessons, make sure you choose an Advanced Driving Instructor, they know best how to prepare you for the driving test, and you should learn sooner.

Most Approved Driving Instructors follow the voluntary ADI Code of Practice, including personal conduct, business dealings, and conciliation. Find a driving instructor signed up to the code.

Driving instructor complaints

Unfortunately, in a minority of cases, you may want to make a complaint about your driving instructor. It would be best if you raised any concerns. You may not be able to get your money back, but you’ll be helping other learner drivers coming after you.

Don’t forget that when you receive driving lessons, a contract is in place between you and your driving instructor. If you’re not satisfied, don’t be afraid to tell them. An excellent driving instructor will know that things don’t always work out.

If you want to make a formal complaint, you can do so directly to the DVSA here.

When can you book your driving test?

You can book your car driving test as soon as you pass your theory test. It’s important not to book your test too early, as you will probably fail, costing you money and confidence. But also, don’t leave it too late as you’ll end up paying for more lessons than you need to.

It’s best to leave it up to your driving instructor, who will tell you when is the most suitable time to book your test.