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Learning to drive

How to apply for a provisional licence

Before you can start your driving lessons or take your theory or practical tests, you’ll need a provisional driving licence.

You'll need to send an application to the DVLA (Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency) any time from 3 months before your 17th birthday.

Top tip: You'll have to wait for your licence to arrive before starting any lessons.

Just follow these 5 steps:

  1. Sort out your ID

    To start with, you'll need to produce a valid form of ID, either a passport or birth certificate from the options below.

  2. UK passport

    If you have a standard UK passport you’ll need to post it to the DVLA with your application. Be warned, they don’t accept photocopies, so make sure you send the original document. But, if your passport has a camera symbol on the front - good news! - you have one of the newer digital passports and you won’t need to send your passport to the DVLA after all. You’ll just need to fill in your 9-digit passport number in the relevant section on the application.

    Birth and adoption certificates

    You can also use your original birth or adoption certificate as a form of ID, just as long as you also send in any one of the following:

    1. National Insurance card or a letter from the Department for Work and Pensions showing your National Insurance number
    2. P45, P60 or pay slip
    3. A photocopy of the front page of a benefits book or an original benefits claim letter
    4. College or university union card or school record
  3. Get yourself a passport photo

    Never the most flattering pictures, we know, but with your application, you'll need to include a colour passport-style photo that has been certified.

    It’s easy to get your photo certified - you’ll just need a person from a recognised profession i.e. doctor, teacher, police officer, MP or librarian, who has known you for more than two years, to sign the back of your photo and complete a small section of the application form.

  4. Fill out the application

    Once you’ve got your ID and photo sorted, you’re ready to complete the application form. There are two ways to apply; via the official government website or by post.

    Applying online is quick and you’ll only need to wait about 10 working days for your licence to arrive.

    To apply by post you can either order the D1 application form direct from the DVLA or pick one up from the Post Office.

    To complete your application, you'll need to:

    • Be a resident of Great Britain - there’s a different service in Northern Ireland
    • Meet the minimum age requirement - that's 16 for mopeds / motorbikes and 17 for cars
    • Meet the minimum eyesight requirement
    • Not be prevented from driving for any reason
    • Pay £34 by MasterCard, Visa, Electron, Maestro or Delta debit or credit card
    • Have a valid UK passport or other form of identity
    • Have your National Insurance number if known
    • Provide addresses where you’ve lived over the last 3 years
    Top Tip: Smaller Post Office branches don’t always stock provisional driving licence applications, so check the Post Offices’ online Branch Finder before making a special trip
  5. Track your progress

    Once you’ve submitted your application, you can keep an eye on its progress via the official government website. Depending on how you applied, your licence can take between two and three weeks to arrive, but if it’s taking longer, this tool will give you an idea of what's going on.

  6. Take to the road

    Once your provisional driving licence hits the front door mat you’re ready to grab your L-plates and get behind the wheel! Well providing you’re 17, under supervision and insured, of course.

    You can now start your driving lessons and, when you’re ready, book your driving theory test.

young and learner insurance

young and learner insurance


2 Responses

  1. cammie says:

    Thanks for inforamation. I was reading on line certain other conditions here which you have not covered like:

    -Your eyesight should meet the standard criteria set by DVLA.

    -A fee of £50 will be charged for provisional licence.

    – To make a licence for your moped or motorbike, your age should be at least 16 years.

    – Provide addresses where you lived for the past three years.

    – Resident of Great Britain.

    -You should have a valid “national insurance number” with you.

    Let me clear on these points also.

    • ingenie says:

      Hi Cammie,

      That page you’re looking out is definitely out of date. This one is the official page: I’ve added some clearer bits into our page about the application process so you can check there too.

      1. Yes, you’ll need to read a number plate from 20 metres in your driving test
      2. The provisional licence costs £34
      3. Yes, and 17 for car
      4. Yes
      5. Yes – Northern Ireland has their own service
      6. If you have one, yes

      Hope that helps,