If you want to learn to drive, whether it’s a car, a motorbike or a moped, first you’ll need a provisional driving licence.
What Is A Provisional Licence?
A provisional driving licence is legally required not just for driving lessons, but also for theory tests, hazard perception tests, and your practical driving test.
What Does A Provisional Licence Allow You to Do?
A provisional licence doesn’t give you free rein to drive anywhere you want! It comes with some restrictions:
- You cannot drive unsupervised – you can only drive if accompanied by someone over 21 who’s had aFull UK licence or a licence from the European Union or European Economic Area for at least three years.
- This person must sit in the front passenger seat, and they must abide by the same rules as drivers. That means you can’t give a drunk friend a lift home from the pub and they can’t just sit texting on their phone!
- You can’t drive on the motorway unless you’re accompanied by an approved driving instructor and in a car which is fitted with dual controls.
- You must display L plates on the front and back of your vehicle – or if you are driving in Wales you can use L plates or D plates.
You are allowed to carry passengers, but only so long as the responsible qualified driver supervising you sits in the front seat. This rule does not apply if you’re learning to ride mopeds or motorbikes!
How Long Does A Provisional Licence Last?
Technically, your provisional licence does not expire until your 70th birthday. However, you’ll have to renew your provisional licence photocard every 10 years, just to ensure that the photo still looks like you.
When you pass your test the test centre will apply to the DVLA for your full licence. And once you’ve passed your driving test, all of the restrictions imposed on your provisional licence are immediately lifted – even if you haven’t yet received your full licence. Just remember to let your insurer know that you have passed as well.
When Can I Apply for my Provisional Licence?
To apply for a provisional driving licence, you have to be at least 15 years and 9 months old. You also have to be able to read a number plate from 20 metres away.
But if you’re younger than 17, you’ll only be able to use your provisional licence to learn to ride a moped. You’ll have to wait until you’re 17 before you can start driving a car.
You can apply for your first provisional driving licence on the Government’s website. It costs £34 online, or £43 by post.
What Else Do I Need if I Want to Learn to Drive?
You can’t learn to drive without a provisional driving licence. But equally important is learner driver insurance.
If you learn to drive with a professional driving school, insurance is usually taken care of. However, the DVSA recommends you get up to 20 hours of private practice on top of your driving lessons. These driving sessions won’t necessarily be covered by your driving school’s insurance.
It’s illegal for any driver to drive uninsured, and learners are no exception. You don’t want to get points on a licence you haven’t even got yet!