Applying for a driving licence

Getting a driving licence is a simple process but it can take some time. It is divided into several clear steps, keep reading and we shall take you through them.

What kind of licence do you want?

The licence for a car is not the same as a licence for a motorcycle, lorry, or bus and coach. If you want to learn how to drive a motorcycle and a car, you will need to take separate tests for each of them. You can do both at the same time.

Step 1: Are you allowed to drive?

Before you start thinking about your provisional (see the next step), you have to check whether you are eligible to drive or not. 

If you are over the age of 15 years and 9 months old, you can apply for a provisional licence. You must be able to read a number plate at 20 metres. You will not be allowed to drive anything on roads until you are 16, when you can get your moped (<50cc) licence. When you are 17, you will be able to drive a car or motorcycle. This guide shows you what you can drive. 

People who have been disqualified can learn to drive again when the courts have deemed them safe to do so.

Step 2: Apply for your provisional licence

Your provisional licence is the first step towards your licence. It currently costs £34 online and £43 by post. You will need an identity document (the easiest choice is a valid UK passport), be able to show where you have lived for the last 3 years, and have your National Insurance number to show them (most people get this around their 16th birthday). 

To apply online, you will need a Government Gateway ID. It is easy to get one of these but it can take a while, so factor some extra time in if you need to get one. 

To apply by post, it costs £43. You can find the form and information here.

Step 3: Practice and lessons

You know all about this part of the process: find an instructor and learn how to drive. We have more in depth guides on this site, so check them out before you start looking. You need your provisional licence before you learn how to drive.

Step 4: Theory test

Now you have learned how to drive, or are feeling confident enough that you can take the theory test, it is time to take the next step. 

The theory test has two parts: a multiple choice exam and a hazard perception test. You can practice them online very easily. The multiple choice tests on three areas: the Highway Code, traffic signs, and the essential skills of driving. Test your progress here

For the hazard perception test, you need to be able to identify hazardous or potentially hazardous situations. This can be more difficult for some people, so practice your skills here

Booking your theory test is easy, just look on the government site. Make sure you have everything you need for the test before you arrive.

Step 5: Driving test

The final stage in the process is to get pass your driving test. This is the bit that scares most people, but remember that fully 47 per cent of people pass first time. A lot get it wrong, but a lot get it right too. Book your test here

When you have passed your driving test, you will be issued with your driving licence (once you have paid for it). It will say which types of vehicles you are legally allowed to drive, and you must have it when you are driving.

What else can your driving licence do?

A provisional licence is a valid form of identification in the UK. So is your final licence. A provisional is substantially cheaper than a passport, so it could be worth applying for just for that. It will last 2 years. 

Many employers specify that they want people with driving licences, so once you have your licence a whole new world of employment opportunities opens up to you. Drive safe and responsibly.