The Uk Provisional Driving Licence

If you want to legally drive a car in the UK you need a full driving licence which can be obtained by either exchanging your foreign licence if it is on the DVLA list of acceptable countries or learning to drive on a provisional licence if you don't have one or have no previous driving experience.

You can apply for a provisional licence 2 months before your 17th birthday or 16th if you are on higher rate of disability benefit. You are not allowed to drive on the public roads until your provisional licence arrives (unless you have an international driving permit) and you reach your 17th birthday (if under 17).

To apply for a provisional licence, you need a D1 application form which is available from most UK post offices, and the current application fee (Nov 2008) is £50. A few of the following documents will be required to complete your licence application form.

A current full passport

An identity card issued by a member state of the European Union (EU) with the exception of Sweden.

Appropriate travel documents issued by the Home Office

A UK certificate of naturalisation

If using your birth certificate, you will need one of the following in addition:

NI card or letter from Department for Work and Pensions containing your NI number

photocopy of front page of a benefits book or an original benefits claim letter

P45, P60 or pay slip

marriage certificate or divorce papers (decree nisi or absolute)

College or University union card or school record

Certified passport sized photograph.

The D1 application form will let you know how many of the above you need to enclose when applying for your provisional licence.

Digital UK passports owners can apply for their provisional licence online at the DVLA Website.

Once you've received your provisional licence, you can start learning to drive either with a professional instructor, a family member or a friend.

Make sure you read and understand the terms and conditions attached to your provisional licence, as you need to abide by the law, and don't get penalty points on your licence as these will drive up insurance premiums for you, and any points on your provisional licence will transfered to your full driving licence once you pass the driving test.

On your first driving lesson, your driving instructor will check both parts of your provisional licence (photocard and counterpart), so make sure you take good care of these documents. You also will need to produce both parts of your licence when you take your theory and practical tests.

Conditions of Provisional Licence

It is important as a provisional driving license holder that you are fully aware of the law governing how you learn to drive in the UK, and the terms of your license.

As a provisional license holder, you can not drive a car unsupervised. The terms of your license state that you must be accompanied by a full license holder who is over 21 and has held their license for 3 years or more.

If you are caught driving unsupervised as a provisional licence holder, you could be fined, and have penalty points added on your license.

A foreign license holder with an international driving permit can drive unsupervised provided your car is not displaying 'L' plates and are driving within the first 12 months of their first arrival in the UK<

If you only have a provisional driving license, you must display 'L' plates when driving a car in the UK. It is a condition of your being a learner that you MUST display regulation sized 'L' plates when driving a car, the 'L' plates must be clearly visible from both the front and rear of the car you are driving.

You must be insured to drive the car you are learning in as a provisional licencee. This is not usually a problem if you are learning to drive with a professional Driving Instructor (ADI), but make sure that your instructor's registration has not expired, and if in doubt you should ask for proof. It is YOUR responsibility as the driver to know that the car is insured, as in the case of an accident, the 3rd party will pursue you in the first instance as the driver in charge of the car, though your supervisor or instructor could be seen as an accomplice.

As a provisional license holder, you also need to make sure the car you are driving is road worthy, this is not limited to having a current MOT, but includes the tyres being legal, all lights in working order, and the exhaust system working properly, the police will stop any car they suspect is not fully worthy to be driven on the public roads.

Ignorance is no excuse in the sight of the law, so make sure you are fully read the conditions of your provisional license.

Provisional Licence, Points and the DSA driving test

If you've been unfortunate and have penalty points on your provisional licence, then the information below would be of help to you.

You should be aware that if you are supervising a learner driver, and he/she breaks the law, that you could also be prosecuted for aiding and abetting.

1. Any points added to your provisional licence will stay on for a minimum of 4 years.