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How do I apply for a provisional driving licence in the UK?

All learner drivers need to have a provisional driving licence in order to drive legally on UK roads.

Car insurance for provisional drivers - how much does it cost?

If you are raring to get on the roads the first thing you need to do is get a provisional driving licence. The next thing you need to do is get insured, we explain more about this later.

Before you get behind the wheel, whether for a professional driving lesson or practicing in a friend’s or relative’s car, you must have a provisional driving licence

You’ll also need a provisional licence before you book your theory, hazard perception, or practical driving test.

When can I apply for a provisional licence? 

You can apply for a provisional licence as early as three months before you turn 16, but will need to wait until your 17th birthday before you can drive on public highways.

But not just anyone can take to the roads, the law requires potential drivers meet certain standards before they can have a UK provisional licence.

Before you apply for a provisional licence:

  • You must be a resident of Great Britain or Northern Ireland

  • You must be at least 15 years and 9 months of age at the time of applying for your provisional licence

  • You must be able to read a standard licence plate from a distance of 20 metres (with glasses or contact lenses if necessary

Get a quote for provisional driver's insurance

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How to apply for a provisional driving licence

To apply for your provisional driving licence, either fill out a form from the Post Office or apply on the DVLA website. 

When submitting your provisional licence application, you’ll need to inform the DVLA of the following:

  • All addresses you’ve lived at over the last three years

  • A colour passport-style photo

  • A valid form of ID such as a current passport, a biometric residence permit, or a UK certificate of naturalisation

Can I apply for a UK provisional licence if I don’t have a passport?

If you don’t have any of the above documents you can send your birth or adoption certificate along with one of the following:

  • Proof of your National Insurance number 

  • Benefits claim letter or a photocopy of the front page of a benefits book

  • A photocopy of your P45, P60 or a recent pay slip

  • Marriage certificate or divorce papers

  • College or university union card

  • School record or PASS Citizen Card

How much does a provisional driving licence cost?

You should be wary of unofficial sites that offer to process your licence application, as they often charge a hefty admin fee on top of the cost of your licence.  By going direct to the DVLA online you’ll pay £34 or £43 if you apply by post.

How long does it take to get a provisional licence?

Postal applications can take up to three weeks, whereas online applications should be processed within a week.

How long is a provisional licence valid for?

A provisional licence, as with a full UK driving licence, lasts until the day of your 70th birthday. 

As with a full driving licence you need to renew it every 10 years and you must let the DVLA know every time you change address, or you face a fine of up to £1,000.

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Do I need car insurance if I have a UK provisional licence?

No one can take to the roads without holding valid car insurance. There are three levels of cover in the UK: 

  • Third party only - which pays out if you damage another person’s vehicle or property, and injure passengers, other drivers or pedestrians

  • Third party, fire and theft - this covers the above, plus damage or loss to the insured’s vehicle following a fire, theft or attempted theft

  • Comprehensive insurance  - will pay out if damage or injury is incurred to others, their property or the insured or their car

If you are only learning in a registered instructor’s car, then their insurance will cover you. However, if you are learning in a private vehicle - be it a friend’s, family member's or even your own - then you will need insurance to drive it on public roads.

Get a quote for provisional driver's insurance

See a range of car insurance quotes in just a few minutes when you compare with Uswitch