YOU CAN ONLY APPLY FOR A PROVISIONAL DRIVING LICENCE IF YOU...
- Are a resident of Great Britain.
- Meet the minimum age requirement (17 years of age, 16 years old for people receiving the higher rate of disability living allowance) For further information on any medical or health conditions that may affect your driving go to www.direct.gov.uk/en/Motoring.
- Meet the minimum eyesight requirements – you should be able to read a number plate from a minimum distance of 20 m. If you have any visual conditions that affect your eyes or sight, not including long/short sightedness and being colour blind, you must inform the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency).
- Are not currently prevented from driving for any reason
- Are able to pay the fee by cheque, debit or credit card (Master Card, Visa, Electron or Delta)
- Hold a valid UK passport or another form of identity and a national insurance card/letter – To find out more about identity documents visit www.direct.gov.uk/en/Motoring
- Are able to provide a current address and previous addresses for the past 3 years.
- Have a passport photo that has been signed by a reputable person who you’ve known for at least 2 years.
NOTE: You will be required to send off your original documentation confirming your identity and it’ll take approximately 3 weeks to be processed and returned from the time the DVLA receive your application (if you have any medical conditions the application can take longer to process).
APPLYING FOR A PROVISIONAL DRIVING LICENCE
You can apply for your provisional driving licence up to three months prior to your birthday. You can apply online through the DirectGov website (www.direct.gov.uk) or by sending your application in the post. Pick up a provisional driving licence application form from your local Post Office (www.postoffice.co.uk) or apply to receive the form through the DVLA online order form service - www.dvla.gov.uk/dvla/onlineservices.
LEARNING TO DRIVE
Once you’ve received your licence you can begin learning to drive. However, you must ensure that the vehicle you choose to drive is in a roadworthy condition and is correctly taxed and insured. As you only hold a provisional driving licence you must be accompanied by another driver over the age of 21 that holds a full driving licence and has done so for at least three years. You are also legally required to display learner ‘L’ plates in a noticeable position at the front and rear of your vehicle - if you live in Wales you can display ‘L’ or ‘D’ plates.
Learning to drive can be a very daunting experience, but remember to just stay calm. You should be in safe hands if you are learning with an ADI instructor (Approved Driving Instructor who has been approved by the Driving Standards Agency) as they will have taken extensive tests to gain more driving experience, knowledge and instructing abilities. Most driving instructors will have a dual control vehicle which means they’ll be able to help you with the clutch and brake whenever necessary.
You must hold a valid provisional driving licence to take both the theory and practical driving tests. You’ll be required to pass a driving theory and practical driving test in order to obtain a full driving licence. To find out current driving test fees see Direct Gov's website (www.direct.gov.uk/en/Motoring). You must pass your theory exam before you can book and sit your practical driving exam.
- To take your practical test you must hold a valid theory pass certificate
- Find your local driving test centre on www.dft.gov.uk
- The most convenient method to book your practical test is to book online which you can do at: www.driverpracticaltest.direct.gov.uk -as with the theory test you will also be able to make any alterations or cancel your booking online. To book your practical test online you'll need to have your valid provisional driving licence, your theory test certificate and credit or debit card to hand - if you wish to take your test in your driving instructor's car you'll also need your driving instructors personal reference number (their ADI number). If you wish to use your own vehicle check that your car complies with the testing rules beforehand, see these at www.direct.gov.uk/en/Motoring/LearnerAndNewDrivers/PracticalTest. The alternative options are to book over the phone by calling 0300 200 1122 or to book by post by downloading the practical test application form and sending it to this address: Driving Standards Agency, Booking Department, PO Box 381, Manchester M50 3UW, along with a cheque or postal order payable to ‘Driving Standards Agency'.
- Once your application has been accepted you will be sent an ‘application reference number', you will need this if you wish to check, re-book or cancel your booking, you can do this on Direct Gov's website: www.driverpracticaltest.direct.gov.uk/
- The test will last approximately 40 minutes.
- At the beginning of the test you will be required to do the eyesight test by reading a number plate approximately 20 metres away.
- Before you begin to drive you will be asked two vehicle safety questions - you'll incur a minor fault for any incorrect answers.
- To pass your practical driving test you will need to incur less than 15 minor faults and no serious or dangerous faults - serious and dangerous faults will result in an immediate failure. A dangerous fault is when you not only put yourself, but also your examiner and the public or a property in danger. A serious fault is a fault that could have potentially been dangerous and a minor fault is a fault that isn't potentially dangerous i.e. sitting at a junction for longer than necessary, however if you continue to repeat the same fault it could become a serious fault.
- During the test you will be required to do one manoeuvre, which could be either a reversing park (parallel or bay-park), turn in the road or reverse around a corner. These manoeuvres are put in place to test the control you have of the vehicle, and your reversing ability.
- You may be required to carry out an emergency stop - this is generally carried out in 1 out of 3 driving tests.
- Throughout the test the examiner will give you directions, you will experience different traffic and road conditions i.e. roundabouts and junctions.
- As of the 4th October 2010 an independent driving section has been in place within the practical driving test.
- For the duration of the test, the examiner will mark you on your general driving ability, marking down any faults that you may have made. At the end of the test the examiner will tell you the result and then explain any faults you've acquired if you so wish.
INDEPENDENT DRIVING SECTION
The independent driving section will last the duration of approximately 10 minutes of your overall driving test. In this section you'll be asked to follow either a series of directions on a map or follow a series of road signs - you can end up with a combination of both.
Try not to be anxious about taking the wrong direction or forgetting what direction you should take, as this can happen to the most experienced of drivers. This section is not to test your navigational skills, it has been put in place to ensure you confirm within plenty of time what direction you are taking, and that you make the correct decisions of when it is safe to proceed.
HAVE YOU PASSED OR FAILED?
If you failed the test you can easily rebook the test using the same method as before and can usually do this as soon as you finish the test however, in some cases, it can take a few hours for your test result to be processed. It is advised that you go through the faults which you incurred in the test with the examiner as this will be beneficial and you can then focus on correcting these before you take your next test - you will be given a failure slip with the faults listed. Although failing your test will be disappointing and costly, you can easily book another test and even though it is expensive you have to remember that once you do pass the test you have it for life, so look at it as an investment.
If you have passed you'll receive a pass certificate and the examiner will give you the option to have your full licence to be sent automatically, which means handing over your provisional licence there and then. On the other hand, you can send off for the full licence at a later date - click here for further details on applying for a full licence. Once you've passed you can drive straight away, you don't need to wait for your full driving licence to arrive. However, your driving instructor will drive you home from the testing centre. A high percentage of new drivers will crash within the first hour of passing their driving test, usually due to the heightened sense of achievement. Therefore please ensure that you are extra vigilant when you are new to driving independently.
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