Getting a Driving Licence in the UK
Information on driving permits in Great Britain: details on applying for a learner’s licence and registering for a driving licence in England, Scotland and Wales. Getting a Driving Licence in the UK. To drive legally in the UK, a driver must be the minimum age of 17 years, hold the appropriate driving licence for the vehicle and meet the legal eyesight standards. Visitors of 17 years and older, with a valid permit issued elsewhere in the world, may drive in the UK for up to 12 months. After 12 months, some foreign licences remain valid for use in the UK for a limited period; some may be exchanged for a UK licence; some cease to be valid and a full driving test must be taken, for a British licence to be issued.
To find out which licences may be used and for how long, and which must be exchanged, see the Guide Exchanging a Foreign Driving Licence in the UK
Types of Driving Licences
The minimum age for driving a car is 17 years. For mopeds it is 16 and for motorcycles, depending on the power of the bike, it may be from 17 to 21 years. There are two types of licence: Getting a Driving Licence in the UK
- Provisional Driving Licence
- Full Driving Licence
Provisional licences are for drivers who:
- Have never had a full licence
- Are not able to show they are entitled to a full driving licence
There are certain restrictions for holders of a provisional licence, both for car and motorcycle drivers:
- Car drivers must be accompanied by a front-seat passenger seat who is over 21 and has had a full driving licence for at least three years
- Motorcyclists must not drive a motorbike that is above 125cc, in Northern Ireland, or a motorbike that is above 14.6bhp.
- In England, Wales and Scotland, a motorcyclist must not drive a motorbike on a public road unless they are taking a compulsory basic training course
- Motorcyclists must not carry a passenger on the motorbike
- L-plates (D-plates in Wales) must be displayed on the front and back of the vehicle
A full licence is issued to a driver that has passed a driving test in the UK, within the previous two years.
How to get a Driving Licence in Great Britain
In order to qualify for a driving licence for a vehicle or motorbike, candidates must pass both a theory and hazard perception test followed by a supervised driving test.
Enrolment at a driving school is not mandatory, although learner drivers must be accompanied by a driver aged at least 21, and with a minimum of three years’ driving experience. Buy full UK driving licence online
Learner plates ‘L’ plates (‘D’ plates in Wales) must be fixed to the front and back of the car.
Driving instructors must be registered and approved by the Driving Standards Agency before they can charge a fee for lessons.
Legal obligations of drivers
Third party insurance is obligatory in the UK. In addition to the minimum insurance requirements, all vehicles must be registered with the Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency (DVLA), have a valid tax disc and an MOT test certificate, if applicable, before being taken on the road.
A Valid MOT test certificate is required on any vehicle that is 3 or more years old.
- GOV.UK has further information on MOTs and vehicle insurance
The DVLA must be informed of any medical condition that may affect a person’s ability to drive. Check if a medical condition must be reported to the DVLA
Applying for a Driving Licence
Before learning to drive a motor car, moped or motorcycle, the learner must have a provisional driving licence. This can be applied for in person, by completing a D1 form at a post office and sending it to the DVLA or by completing the form online. Buy full UK driving licence online
A provisional driving licence can be applied for at 15 years and 9 months old. The provisional license states when the applicant can begin driving different vehicles. Applicants have to wait until their 17th birthday to drive a car. Those who have applied for, or receive the enhanced rate of the mobility component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP), can apply for a provisional licence and take the driving test at 16 years old. Getting a Driving Licence in the UK
- Gov.UK has more information on applying and the documents required
- The same site also has more information on vehicles that can be driven and the minimum age
An application for a driving license can be made as soon as the applicant has passed the practical driving test. The driving licence is issued by the DVLA in England, Wales and Scotland. In Northern Ireland driving licences are issued by the Driver and Vehicle Agency.
The licence is the size of a credit card, and bears a photograph with details of the category of vehicles the holder is entitled to drive. As of June 2015 the paper counterpart document setting out any valid endorsements including penalty points is no longer issued or valid. New penalty points are to be recorded electronically and the information held on the on the on the DVLA’s driver record. This record can be viewed online, by phone or post. Getting a Driving Licence in the UK
- Note: The new rule does not apply to photocard licences issued in Northern Ireland
- Vehicles you can drive
- Driving licence categories
- Driving a van
- Driving a minibus
- Driving a motorhome
- Driving licence codes
- Penalty points (endorsements)
- Compare old and new driving licence categories
- Vehicle weights explained
- Buy full UK driving licence online