So if you’re 17 and thinking, I wouldn’t mind an extra little bit of freedom, then learning how to drive, both safely and with proper instruction, can be extremely rewarding. Of course driving, at any age, is a great skill to learn. In the UK, while you have to be at least 17 years old to learn how to drive, you can start the whole process from the age of 16. So here is everything you need to know about how to get a driver licence in the UK.
Before you start the process there are a few things you need to know and have to hand.
What you need to apply for a UK driving licence
- As stated above you must meet the minimum age requirement.
- You must be a resident of Great Britain and you will be required to show proof of your address for the past three years.
- You must meet the minimum eyesight requirement. Often this requires a test especially if you previously wore glasses and now no longer do.
- Have a valid UK passport.
- Provide your National Insurance number (if you know it).
- A colour passport sized photo.
- Have a payment of £34. This can be paid electronically with MasterCard, Visa, Electron, Maestro or Delta debit or credit card. Like most things these days you can apply for your licence online but if you’re old school and want to apply for your licence by post then your fee rises to the hefty sum of £43.
Once you have all of the above you are ready to go. So here begins the process of getting a drivers licence in the UK.
The process of getting a UK driving licence
The first step, which may feel a little strange seeing as you complete it without ever sitting behind the wheel of a car, is to apply for a provisional licence. This piece of paper permits you to then apply for your real licence. Without it you can’t sit your theory test or your perception hazard tests or even any driving lessons. Applying for the provisional licence is quite straightforward. Simply meet the above requirements and gather all the relevant documents and you can apply online on this UK government site.
Once you have the provisional licence in your, I’m sure, very excited hands you can book in for some driving lessons. Be sure to choose a reputable company to practise with as learning to drive on main roads is not for the faint hearted. Learning to drive from someone who is patient, understanding and really knows what to teach you to help you pass that test and become a safe road user is essential.
With your twelve or more lessons under you belt, you may now be ready to sit your driving test. In the UK you have to pass three tests to get your licence.
The theory test
This test consists of approximately 140 questions to ensure you understand all the rules of the road. From the highway code, to recognising the meaning of traffic signs to learning the essential skills of driving, the test seeks to ensure a wide understanding of the rules of the road. You can read more about the theory test and how to prepare for it and also try some practise test runs.
The hazard perception test
This is more of a visual test to see how good you are at understanding and perceiving known hazards as you drive on the roads. There are several practice tests you can take as well as a mock test before you need to apply for the real thing.
The actual driving test
Only once you have received your provisional licence and passed the two tests can you then apply for your driving licence. You can book your test online and you will need to give your provisional driving licence number and an email address. The test itself costs £31.
Things to note when applying for a UK driving licence
- Your provisional licence is valid for 10 years. However, once you have passed your theory test you have two years to sit your driving test. Otherwise you must sit your theory test again once this time has passed.
- With a provisional driving licence you are restricted to what you can drive. Mainly certain types of vehicles such as mopeds, motorbikes and cars.
- You can’t drive alone on a provisional license. You must be accompanied by someone who is 21 and over and has held their licence for at least 3 years.
- The accompanying person must sit in the front seat and be compus mentus. In other words, being the designated driver for your drunken pals, as nice as that it is. It doesn’t cover you.
- You must display L plates on the front and back of your vehicle.
- You are not permitted to drive on the motorway, unless you’re accompanied by a driving instructor and are driving one of those dual assisted cars. Which, let’s face it, you won’t be so don’t risk it. The motorway is a scary place if you don’t know what you’re doing.
- When you finally have your full driving licence, you must have an insurance policy that allows you to drive without supervision.
Now that you’re armed with all the right information, go forth and drive safely!