Everything you need to know about the provisional driving licence

March 17, 2016

Before you can start to learn to drive you need to apply for a provisional licence.

In fact you need a provisional licence before you can even take your theory test.

Read our guide below to learn everything you need to know about the provisional driving licence.

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Getting Your Provisional Licence

Under normal circumstances you need to be 17 to start driving a car (16 for a moped) but you can apply for your provisional licence up to three months before you intend to start driving. The exception is that if you are in receipt of the higher rate mobility element of the Disability Living Allowance you can start to drive at 16.

The provisional driving licence costs £50 and it covers the driver for cars, motorcycles and mopeds. You can either apply for your provisional licence online or through the post (using form D1).

If you apply online your provisional licence is usually returned to you within a week but through the post it can take up to three weeks. To be able to apply online you must meet the following criteria;

  • Be a resident of Great Britain (different application rules apply to Northern Ireland)
  • Meet the minimum eyesight requirements
  • Not be prevented from driving for any reason
  • Pay £50 by an accepted credit or debit card
  • Have either a valid UK passport or other acceptable form of identity
  • Have your NI number (if known)
  • Provide addresses where you have lived for the past three years

What The Provisional Licence Allows You to Do

Once you have passed the theory test your UK provisional driving licence allows you to drive a car but with the following restrictions;

  • You are accompanied by a driver aged 21 or over
  • The driver who accompanies you has a licence in the category of vehicle you are driving
  • They must have held that licence for at least three years.
  • The driver accompanying you must be in a fit state to drive.
  • You must always display “L” plates (or “D” plates in Wales), which also must be of the correct size.
  • You cannot drive on motorways.

Once you have passed your test you can drive without these restrictions even if you have yet to receive your full licence.

Car Insurance and Learning to Drive on Your Provisional Driving Licence

OK, so you have your provisional driving licence, have passed you theory test so now it’s time to take to the road. Before you can legally take to the road with your provisional licence you must ensure that you are adequately insured. If a relative is teaching you to drive in their car (or possibly your own car) then you must be on the policy, usually as a named driver. It may be worth considering the cost of driving lessons as the cost of the insurance which is considerable for new drivers, is included in the lessons.

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