How to apply for a provisional driving licence
The provisional licence is like a magic key to driving
Your provisional licence allows you to drive in the UK while learning, and you can’t take your driving test without it.
How old do I need to be to apply for a provisional driving licence?
You can apply for a provisional driving licence when you are 15 years and nine months old.
Things to bear in mind:
- You can only start driving a car when you are 17.
- At 16 you can start riding a moped or a quad bike.
- If you receive the Enhanced Rate of the Mobility Component of the Personal Insurance Payment (PIP), you can start driving a car at 16.
Do I need to have my eyesight tested before I drive?
You will be required to have your eyesight tested before you learn to drive. This will take place at the beginning of your first driving lesson. Your driving instructor will ask you to read a car number plate from 20 metres away. If you fail, you won’t be allowed to drive.
We recommend seeing an optician beforehand just in case and, if necessary, buying contact lenses or glasses to make sure you meet the right standard.
The total number of provisional driving licences registered with DVLA for the whole of Great Britain is over 8,000,000.
Source The RAC Foundation, 2019
Applying for a provisional driving licence online
The simplest, quickest and cheapest way to get a provisional licence is online. To do so, you’ll need a valid biometric UK passport (the majority of UK passports are now biometric). Luckily, you won’t need to provide a photo as they’ll use the same one from your passport.
If you don’t have a biometric passport, you will be required to send in an original form of ID by post – photocopies will not be accepted.
To apply for a provisional licence online, you’ll need:
- A debit or credit card to pay the £34 fee.
- A valid UK biometric passport or another acceptable form of ID.
- Your address history for the last three years.
- Your National Insurance Number (if you know it).
All being well, you should receive your provisional driving licence in one week.
What ID do I need to apply for a provisional licence?
If possible, you should use a UK biometric passport when applying for a provisional driving licence. It’s much quicker and will save you having to apply by post.
However, if you don’t have a biometric passport, the following forms of ID can be accepted:
- Any valid and current passport.
- BRP (Biometric residence permit).
- UK certification of naturalisation.
- European Union or European Economic Area national identity card.
- Travel document.
Be aware that, if applying by post, you must send in the original document. A photocopy will not be accepted, and your application will be rejected.
Applying for a provisional driving licence by post
Applying for a provisional driving licence by post is not as straightforward as an online application. To do so, you’ll need a D1 form, which you can pick up from most Post Office branches, or the DVLA form ordering service.
To apply for a provisional licence by post, you’ll need:
- A completed D1 form.
- A cheque or postal order, payable to the DVLA for £43.
- An original form of acceptable ID (see here for what can be accepted).
- A passport-size photo.
Once ordered, it could take up to three weeks for your provisional licence to arrive.
How much does a provisional driving licence cost?
The cost of a provisional driving licence depends on how you apply:
- An online application costs £34
- A postal application will cost £43
Just think how many novelty air fresheners you could buy with that extra £9!
Once you pass your test, you exchange your provisional for a full driving licence for free.
VIDEO: how to apply for a provisional driving licence
The DVLA has released a video on how to apply for a driving licence unfortunately, the fee they state of £50 is incorrect.
Watch out for scams!!!
Sadly, several third-party sites are offering to handle the application process for you. They often charge several times the value of the licence itself for the privilege.
As we’ve seen, applying for a provisional driving licence is not hard. So don’t waste your hard-earned cash and make sure you use the official DVLA website.
(Be warned: these sites also offer many other, mostly unnecessary, services, such as vehicle tax. Don’t be fooled into giving them your money.)
Track your provisional driving licence application online
Now comes the tricky part: waiting. If you applied for your licence online, it should take a week to get to you (three weeks if you used the post).
Thankfully, you can track the progress of your application. All you’ll need is your application reference number, and you’ll be able to find out how long it will be until you can get behind the wheel.
Don’t be fooled into paying for your theory test through a third party. There’s no benefit, and they could charge you up to three times the original price. Learning to drive is expensive enough already!
Crucial: don’t get penalty points on your licence before you’ve even received it
Nothing could be worse than ruining your shiny new provisional driving licence before it’s yet come through the letterbox.
Don’t even think of driving before you receive your provisional licence. You could be fined up to £1,000 and get three points on your new licence right from the off. It’s not worth the risk, so just don’t do it.
You could still lose your licence even if you pass your test
If a driver has six or more penalty points on their provisional licence, these carry over on to their full driving licence when they pass their test and will remain on their driving record for four years after the offence.
Also, in the first 24 months of having a full licence, if that driver gets just one more penalty point, then their licence will be revoked. If this happens, you’ll need to start the whole application process again, including applying for a provisional licence and taking a theory and practical test.
Why wait? Start revising for your theory test!
You don’t need a provisional licence to start revising for your theory test. Do yourself a favour and get a head start on your revision. We recommend the official DVSA theory test revision guides. You’ll be saying bye-bye to those L plates in no time!
EU, EEA and other foreign nationals applying for a UK Provisional Licence
If you’re from the EU, EEA or you are another foreign national, you will need to be resident in the UK to apply, and you’ll need to provide the required documentation to do so. Find out more here.