Learning to drive is an exciting time. But before you can go out on the roads, you’ll need a provisional driving licence so that you can learn to drive on UK roads.
Once you’ve received your provisional driving licence, you can buy provisional insurance if required and take driving lessons.
In this guide, we cover everything you need to know about applying for the provisional driving licence.
What is a provisional driving licence?
A provisional driving licence will allow you to learn to drive on UK roads (except motorways, unless accompanied by an approved driving instructor), under correct supervision.
Once you hold your provisional licence, you can start driving a car when you’re 17 and ride a moped or light quad bike from the age of 16.
You will need your provisional licence when you book or take both your theory and practical driving tests, as well as your first driving lesson, if it is with an approved driving instructor.
How to apply for a provisional driving licence?
To apply for a provisional licence, you must be:
- At least 15 years and 9 months of age.
- Able to read a number plate from 20 metres (with glasses or contact lenses if necessary).
You can apply for your provisional licence either online or by post.
The quickest, easiest and simplest way is to apply online. You will need to provide:
- A valid UK biometric passport (where the photo and signature are on the same page) or another form of identification.
- Your National Insurance number if you know it.
- You may also have to provide addresses where you have lived over the past three years.
You’ll receive a confirmation email from the DVLA after you’ve applied and you can also track your online application.
Always apply through the official DVLA website and not through a third-party agency. These misleading websites may charge additional fees and your application might not even be processed.
To apply by post, you will need to:
- Complete a D1 form, which you can either order online or request from your local post office.
- Post original documents that confirm your identity.
Completed postal applications should be sent to:
To apply for a provisional licence, you must meet the minimum eyesight requirements. This means that you must be able to read a car number plate (with glasses or contact lenses, if necessary) from 20 metres.
You must also have an adequate field of vision (the area that you can see without turning your head), so that you can drive safely.
If you are unable to meet these standards or if you are simply unsure, you should visit an optician before you get behind a wheel.
How much is a provisional licence?
A provisional licence in the UK costs £34 if you apply online, or £43 if you apply by post.
You can pay online by:
- Delta debit.
- Credit card.
For postal applications, the DVLA will accept a cheque or postal order, payable to the DVLA.
What ID can you use for a provisional licence?
If you have a valid UK biometric passport (where the photo and signature are on the same page), you only need to provide your 9-digit passport number as identification. You do not need to post your passport with your application, if you use the 9-digit passport number instead.
The DVLA will then be able to obtain your photo and signature (required for your provisional licence) from your passport.
UK birth or adoption certificate
You can also use your original UK birth or adoption certificate as a form of ID, if they are sent with one of the following:
- National Insurance card or a letter from the Department for Work and Pensions that shows your National Insurance number.
- P45, P60 or a pay slip.
- A photocopy of the front page of a benefits book or an original benefits claims letter.
- Marriage certificate or divorce papers.
- A gender recognition certificate.
- College or university card or PASS proof of age card.
If you do not have a UK biometric passport
If you do not have a UK biometric passport, you must send one of the following forms of identification with your application:
- A valid foreign passport.
- A travel document.
- A biometric residence permit (BRP).
You must send the original document with your provisional licence application. Photocopies or laminated certificates will not be accepted.
Avoid sending documents that you may need within the next month. For example, if you’re going to need your passport due to travel arrangements, it may be best to delay your application until you return.
When will I get my supporting documents back?
Your supporting documents will be returned separately to your driving licence, this may take longer than usual due to coronavirus. The DVLA will return your supporting documents by second-class post and cannot guarantee that your identity documents will be returned by a set date.
If you want to track when your supporting documents are posted, simply include a stamped, self-addressed special delivery or signed for envelope with your application. If your supporting documents have not been returned within three weeks of receiving your provisional licence, contact the DVLA.
Do I need my provisional photo signed?
When you apply for a provisional licence, you’ll also need to provide a valid photo and signature.
You do not need someone to sign your provisional licence photo if you have:
- Allowed the DVLA to check your identity with the HM Passport Office.
- Provided a current passport, travel document or biometric residence permit (BRP).
- Provided the DVLA with a ‘share code’ to prove your immigration status.
Otherwise, all other identification sent will require someone suitable to sign the back of your photo. This can be someone that knows you personally but is not related or living at the same address as you. Examples include a current or retired teacher, shopkeeper or lawyer.
For further information, see who can sign your photo.
How long does a provisional licence take to be delivered?
Online applications should be processed within a week but may take longer if the DVLA need to make additional checks. You can also track the progress of your online driving licence application.
Postal applications may take longer than usual due to coronavirus. Allow up to three weeks for delivery from postal applications.
How long does a provisional licence last?
A provisional driving licence is valid for ten years. You will receive a reminder to renew before your current licence expires.
Getting your provisional licence is the start of exciting times ahead. Remember to drive safely and legally by following learner driver rules.
If you’re taking private driving lessons, you’ll need to ensure that there is a valid motor insurance in place on the vehicle you’re practicing in that covers you as a learner driver. You will need a separate insurance policy in place if you’re learning to drive in your own car.
At A Choice, our provisional car insurance offers flexible short-term cover in a friend or family member’s car, or annual cover on your own car if you have one.
Also, don’t forget to start reading up on The Highway Code so that you’re familiar with the rules of the road.