Right Driver

How to get a driving licence in the UK

Whether you want to drive a car or ride a motorbike there are two stages you need to go through for your licence:

  1. Provisional Licence
  2. Full Licence

1. Getting a Provisional Licence

Before getting a licence, it is essential to know and understand the conditions that come with it.

A provisional licence falls under the following conditions:

  • You must at all times be supervised by a driving instructor or another driver over 21 years old who has held a full driver licence for a at least three years
  • You are not allowed to drive on motorways
  • You must display ‘L’ plates on both the front and rear of the vehicle whenever you drive. These can be either ‘L’ or ‘D’ plates in Wales

Who can apply for a provisional licence?

You must be at least 16 years and 10 months old and a resident of Great Britain to be able to apply for a provisional licence. You don’t need to own a car or motorbike, but you will need one for which you are insured and permitted to drive in order to practice driving.

How to apply for  a provisional licence?

  • Go to a DVLA office or a post office nearest to you and fill out a D1 application form (use black ink and write in full capital letters). You may also book online or call 0300 790 6801 to contact DVLA for enquiries
  • You must meet the minimum eyesight requirement
  • Bring a valid UK passport or other form of identity
  • Provide proof of addresses where you’ve lived for the last 3 years
  • Have your photo be taken and signed by someone who is not a relative but has known you for at least 2 years
  • Pay £50 by cheque or postal order or via MasterCard, VIsa, Electron, Maestro or Delta debit or credit card
  • Note: unlike some other countries, you don’t need to pass a theory exam before you are allowed to drive. Once you have your provisional licence, you can drive as long as you adhere to the conditions mentioned above.

It usually takes around three weeks for your licence to be created and be delivered once your licence application is received by the DVLA.

2. Getting a Full Licence

There are no required hours of driving practice or driving lessons for you to become eligible to apply for a full licence. After getting a provisional licence you can take the driving test anytime you feel ready to do so. To obtain a full licence you’ll need to pass both the driving theory test and the driving practical test.

The driving theory test

In order for you to take the practical driving test you will have to take and pass the theory test first (for cars or motorbikes).

The theory test is divided into two parts:
  1. multiple choice
  2. hazard perception

You need to pass both the multiple choice and the hazard perception tests for you to be given a theory test pass certificate (required when booking for a practical test).

You can practice the multiple choice Highway Code question tests by clicking on the links at the top of this page (Car, Motorbike, Lorry or Bus)

Below are the things you’ll need to bring to take the driving theory test:
  • both parts of your driving licence (photocard and paper counterpart)
  • your signed driving licence and a valid passport (applicable if you have an old-style paper licence)

Note: You are not required to take the theory test if (1) you hold a full moped licence issued after the first day of July 1996, and if (2) you hold a B1 licence (three- or four-wheeled light vehicle)

The practical driving test

The practical driving test will determine if you are ready to drive safely in different road conditions and if you are already well-versed with the HIghway Code that will be demonstrated through your driving.

Below are the things you’ll need to bring to take the practical driving test:
  • Your theory test pass certificate or confirmation number (unless if you are already exempted from taking the theory test)
  • both parts of your driving licence (photocard and paper counterpart)
  • your signed driving licence and a valid passport (applicable if you have an old-style paper licence)

Note: You can start driving right away as a full licence holder right after passing the driving test even if you are still waiting for your full licence to be issued. If you took your driving test using an automatic car then you will be allowed to drive automatic cars only.

Cars or light vans categories (with and without trailers)

Below are the cars and light vans (with or without trailers) categories. Driving vehicles from any one of these categories will depend on your driver licence category.

B – motor vehicle (requires 17 years of age)

  • MAM (Maximum Authorised Mass) of 3,500kg with or without a trailer
  • 8 passenger seats

B96 – combination of trailer and motor vehicle  (requires 17 years of age)

  • MAM of more than 3,500kg and below 4,250kg
  • Tractor vehicle is in category B

B+E – combination of a trailer or semi-trailer (category B tractor vehicle) and a motor vehicle  (requires 17 years of age)

  • MAM of the motor vehicle does not exceed 3,500kg
  • MAM of the trailer or semi-trailer does not exceed 3,500kg
  • MAM of the combination of the two does not exceed 7,000kg

Motorcycle and moped categories

Below are the moped and motorbike categories and riding anyone of these categories depends on your motorbike licence category.

AM – moped with 2 or 3 wheel vehicles or light quadricycles (requires 16 years of age to apply)

  • 50cc
  • 45 kph

A1 – small motorcycle (requires 17 years of age)

  • 125cc engine size
  • 11kW power output
  • 0,1kW/kg power to weight ratio

A2 – medium-sized motorcycle (requires 19 year of age)

  • 35kW power output
  • 0.2kW/kg power to weight ratio

A – large motorcycle (requires 24 years of age and 21 years of age via Progressive Access)

  • Bikes with or without a sidecar having boundless size and power

It’s not a requirement that you go through all the categories A1 and A2 before getting a category A licence. You can directly apply for a category A2 licence if you are already 19 years old and a category A licence if you are already 24 years old (21 via Progressive Access).

Note: Before riding a motorcycle or a moped you’ll have to complete a Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) course first even if you already have a car licence.

You can’t drive Large Goods Vehicles (LGVs) or Passenger Carrying Vehicles (PCVs) on a car licence.

Darren has owned several companies in the automotive, advertising and education industries. He has run driving theory educational websites since 2010.

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Posted in Advice, Car, Heavy Vehicle, Motorbike, Passenger Vehicle

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