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Getting Started

Applying for Your Licence

You must be at least 17 years old to drive a car. As an exception, if you receive Disability Living Allowance at the higher rate, you're allowed to start driving at 16. You must have a valid provisional driving licence before you can drive on the road.

Driving licences are issued by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). Application forms D1 and D750 can be obtained from any Post Office. In Northern Ireland the issuing authority is Driver and Vehicle Agency (Licensing) Northern Ireland and the form is a DL1.

The forms should be sent to the appropriate office, which is shown on the form. You must enclose the required passport-type photographs, as all provisional licences now issued are photocard licences.

When you receive your provisional licence, check that all details are correct before you drive on the road.

If you need to contact DVLA, their telephone number is +44 (0)870 240 0009. (DVA is tel: 02870 341 469).

You will need to show both parts of your provisional licence when you take your theory test.

Residency Requirements

You cannot take a test or obtain a full licence unless you are normally resident in this country. Normal residence means the place where you reside because of personal or occupational ties. However, if you moved to the United Kingdom (UK) having recently been permanently resident in another state of the EC/EEA (European Economic Area), you must have been normally resident in the UK for 185 days in the 12 months prior to your application for a driving test or full driving licence.

If you are looking to become a UK citizen you will need to take the Citizenship Test (also known as the Life in the UK test). TSO publish a range official Home Office publications to help candidates pass the test first time, including the Life in the United Kingdom: A Journey to Citizenship Handbook, Life in the United Kingdom: Official Citizenship Test Study Guide and a brand new publication Passing the Life in the UK Test: Official Practice Questions and Answers.

These are essential for those taking the Citizenship test, wanting to apply for British citizenship or settlement; or teaching English or basic skills to prospective applicants for British citizenship or settlement.

Choosing an Instructor

DSA in Great Britain, and DVA in Northern Ireland, approve instructors who are then able to teach learner drivers in return for payment. These instructors have their standards checked regularly.

Approved Driving Instructors (ADIs) and Motorcycle Trainers must:

  • Pass a series of difficult examinations
  • Reach a high standard of instruction
  • Be registered with DSA or DVA
  • Display an Approved Driving Instructor's certificate (except in Northern Ireland).

These professional instructors will give you guidance on:

  • Your practical skills
  • How to study and practise, including which books and/or software to use to prepare for your driving and motorcycle tests
  • When you are ready for your tests
  • Further training after passing your practical test under the 'PASS PLUS' and 'ENHANCED RIDER' (ERS) schemes.

DSA and DVA regulate ADIs and both organisations place great emphasis on professional standards and business ethics. A code of practice has been created, setting a framework within which all instructors should operate. Details of this can be obtained from DSA (tel: +44(0) 115 901 2500).