Ready to get behind the wheel? Not so fast, as you’ll need to get yourself a UK driving licence before you can hit the roads.
In this guide, we’ll show you exactly what you need to do to get your licence. This includes getting your provisional driving licence, passing your theory test and the big one – passing your driving test. We’ll also touch on how to renew your licence, and replace a lost photocard licence. How to get a UK driving licence
There are a few steps you’ll need to follow to get your UK driving licence. In a nutshell, these are:
How to get a UK driving licence
Apply for your provisional licence
Book and pass your theory test
Book and pass your practical driving test.
And of course, there’s driving lessons and studying for your theory test. Let’s look at each of the steps in turn.
Step 1 – Apply for your provisional driving licence in the UK
If you’re at least 15 years and 9 months old¹, you can apply for your provisional driving licence from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).
This is the easiest part of the whole process, as it simply involves applying online and paying the fees. You’ll need to have your passport or some valid ID to hand, along with your address and National Insurance number. Your new provisional licence should arrive in the post within a week.
Once you have your provisional licence, you can start learning to drive. But if you’re under a certain age, you can only have lessons on public roads with a full licence holder over the age of 21 in the car with you.
Step 2 – Take driving lessons and book your theory test
Once your provisional licence arrives, you can find a driving instructor and start taking driving lessons.
At the same time as doing this, you’ll need to study for your theory test. You can also take practice tests, where questions are based on three essential driver training handbooks just like the real test. These books are.
How to get a UK driving licence
The Highway Code
Know your traffic signs
Driving – the essential skills.
The test involves a number of multiple choice questions, followed by a Hazard Perception test.
You can book your theory test as soon as you’re ready, but you must have a provisional licence to do so.
However, you’ll need to have lived in England, Wales or Scotland for at least 185 days in the last year to be eligible
Step 3 – Book your driving test
If both you and your driving instructor are confident that you’ve had enough lessons and have a good chance of passing your practical driving test, you can book it. You’ll also need to have passed your theory test before you can book a driving test.
When you’re ready, you can book a test online. You’ll need your provisional driving licence number and a credit or debit card to pay the fee. You can also provide your driving instructor’s personal reference number if you want to check that they’re available on the day.
You can book your driving test up to 18 weeks in advance. And just like with the theory test, you’ll need to have lived in England, Wales or Scotland for 185 days in the last year to be eligible. If you live in Northern Ireland, there’s a different process to follow. All details are available here on our website.
If you pass your test, you can start driving right away. You’ll get a pass certificate on the spot, and your full driving licence will be sent through the post.
How to renew your driving licence in the UK⁷
When you get your full driving licence, you’ll notice it has an expiry date on it. UK photocard driving licences last for 10 years, and you’ll need to renew it before it expires.
Here’s how to renew your driving licence:
Apply online to renew your licence – this is only for drivers in England, Wales and Scotland. There’s a different process in Northern Ireland.
You’ll need your UK passport, addresses for the last 3 years, your current driving licence and your National Insurance number.
Once you receive your new licence, you’ll need to post the old one back to the DVLA.
What do I do about a lost driving licence in the UK?
If you lose your UK driving licence, don’t panic. You no longer need the paper counterpart (as of June 2015) and the photocard can be replaced.
You can apply online to replace a lost or stolen driving licence, using your driving licence number, National Insurance number and passport details if you know them.