Driving License Factsheet

The Facts:

At the age of 17, any resident of the UK is entitled to take the tests to obtain a UK driver’s license. Those who have a valid driving license within their country of origin are entitled to drive in the UK for up to 12 months before they are required to submit an application for a UK license. The information below applies to those wanting a licence for a car or motorcycle. There may be different requirements for lorries, buses, tractors or other specialist vehicles. Information can be found at: http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Motoring/index.htm.

Applying for the exchange of your foreign driving licence
If you want or need to exchange your foreign driving licence for a UK one, you must complete the application form ‘D1’ which is available through your local Post Office or by contacting the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) by going to http://forms.dvla.gov.uk/forms/ordering_forms_dg.htm. Information on the documentation and identification needed to apply for the exchange of a foreign driving licence is outlined at the bottom of this page.

Learning to drive and obtaining a driving license in the UK

Only those 17 or older can drive in the UK; the earliest date your provisional licence can become valid is on your 17th birthday.

Provisional licence
Before you start to drive you must apply for a provisional driving licence from the DVLA by filling out the application form ‘D1’ which is available through your local Post Office or by contacting the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) by going to http://forms.dvla.gov.uk/forms/ordering_forms_dg.htm. Information on the documents and identification required to apply for a provisional licence is outlined at the bottom of this page.

Theory test
Before you book your driving test you must take and pass your theory test. To take your theory test you must already hold a UK provisional licence.
The standard theory test fee, for a car or motorcycle, is £21.50 (increasing to £28.50 in September 2007).
The theory test consists of two parts: a multiple choice section and a hazard perception section. The multiple choice part is delivered using a touch screen computer and the hazard perception part records your responses through the use of a computer mouse button. If you pass one part and fail the other you'll fail the whole test, and you'll need to take both parts again.
For the multiple choice section you'll be asked 35 questions in 40 minutes and the pass mark is 30 out of 35. From 3 September 2007 you'll be asked 50 questions in 57 minutes and the pass mark will be 43 out of 50.
For the hazard perception part of the theory test the pass mark is 44 out of 75.
You can take a mock theory test by going to http://www.dsa.gov.uk/mockpaper/theoryintro.htm

You can book your theory test online at http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Motoring/Motoringtransactions/DG_066356

Or by phoning 0870 0101 372 between 8am and 4pm Mon-Sun excl bank holidays.

Driving Lessons
The cost of driving lessons varies so it’s probably a good idea to look at a number of different centres or to ask around to find one that has a good reputation and is good value for money. You can search for a driving school in your area by going to http://www.yell.com/find/ukdrivingschools.html and typing in your town.
If you want to practise your driving with an accompanying driver, the accompanying driver must be over the age of 21 and must have held (and still hold) a full licence for three years.
As a learner driver you must display 'L' plates ('L' or 'D' plates in Wales) in a conspicuous position on the front and rear of the vehicle you are driving.

Driving test

There is often a long waiting list for driving tests so it might be a good idea to book your test even before you are completely ready to take it.  You can reschedule or cancel a test up to 3 days before without charge.

Your driving test will start with an eyesight check and some vehicle safety questions. You will then start your practical driving test which will include some specific manoeuvres. The driving part of your test will last about 40 minutes. Throughout the test your examiner will be looking for an overall safe standard of driving, including when you are carrying out the set exercises. You can make up to 15 driving faults and still pass the test (16 or more results in failure). However, if you commit one serious or dangerous fault you will fail the test.

The cost of a practical driving test is £48.50 on weekdays (£60.00 for a motorcycle) and £58.00 at weekends (£70.00 for a motorcycle).
You can book your test online by going to http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Motoring/Motoringtransactions/DG_066356 or by calling 0870 0101 372 (Wales: 0870 0100 372)

Documentation and identification needed for completing ‘D1’ form
When you submit the forms, you will need to enclose enclose original documentation confirming your identity and a passport style colour photograph. The following documentation is considered acceptable for confirmation of identity:
•   full valid current passport
•   UK birth/adoption certificate
•   UK certificate of registry of birth (provided your name is present on the certificate)
•   identity card issued by a member state of the European Community/European Economic Area (EC/EEC)
•   travel documents issued by the Home Office
•   UK certificate of naturalisation
NB, only one of these documents is required to be sent.

Your photograph must be:
•   colour passport style and size (size of image 45mm x 35mm)
•   taken recently and be a true likeness, showing the full face, with no hat, helmet or sunglasses, although you may wear everyday glasses
•   taken against a plain, and evenly lit background
If you do not send a current UK, EC, EEA passport or a Home Office issued travel document with your application you will need to have the reverse of your photograph certified. The following people can certify your photograph for you:
•   a local business person or shopkeeper
•   a  librarian
•   a professionally qualified person, for example, a lawyer, teacher or engineer
•   a police officer
•   a bank or building society officer
•   a civil servant
•   a minister of religion
•   a magistrate
•   a local councillor, an MP, AM, MEP or MSP
This person must live in the UK and have known you personally for at least two years and must not be a relative.
If you have only become resident or returned to the UK within the last two years and have no one to sign your photograph you can take it with all the documents to your nearest DVLA local office. The staff there will sign your photograph and fill in section seven of the application form. Your application and original identity documents will then be sent to DVLA Swansea for further authentication.

More detailed information regarding the exchange of a foreign licence for a UK one can be found at http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Motoring/DriverLicensing/DrivingInGbOnAForeignLicence/DG_4022562


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