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A driving license in the UK is your ticket to the road, a way to get around and see the world. If you already have a license from your home country, it is valid to drive on for 1 year, after which you will need to apply for a UK license. The first step is applying for a provisional driver's license.
How to get a provisional driving license in the UK
- The application is online
Head over to the Official Gov UK site to apply for provisional driving license.
- You will to provide some information
You’ll need to provide:
a) An identity document unless you have a valid UK passport
b) Addresses where you’ve lived over the last 3 years
c) Your National Insurance number
- The payment for the application
It costs £34 to apply for a provisional driving license in the UK.
- Confirmation and sending documents
You’ll get a confirmation email from DVLA after you’ve applied, and you should get your license within a week of applying. If you don't have a UK passport, one of the following ORIGINAL documents needs to be provided:
a) a current and valid foreign passport
b) a valid BRP
c) a valid EU/EEA national identity card
d) a travel document
You'll need to then send your identification document and a passport sized photo to the DVLA to complete the process. After you get your provisional license, you can start working towards getting a full license.
Preparing for the tests
The UK driving license exam has a theory and practical portion, and there are many different ways to prepare for the them. For the theory portion, most often suggested is the book The Official Highway Code or The Official DVSA Theory Test Kit app.
For the practical portion, you can look into local driving schools to help you get acquainted to the road of the UK. It's up to you how many classes you wish to take, but definitely take as many as you think you need to feel comfortable. It's important to ensure you are taught by approved driving instructors. You can find an instructor near you here. After you pass your exam, you must apply for a full driver's license.
Booking the test
It's best to book your theory and practical test via the GOV.UK website as the costs may be higher if you book elsewhere.
You can then complete the online application to apply for the tests. Keep in mind that if you intend on driving a manual transmission car, you will need to take your practical test on a manual or else you can only legally drive an automatic transmission.
Frequently Asked Questions
How soon do I have to apply for my full license after passing the test?
You must send your driving test pass certificate and documents to the DVLA within 2 years of passing your driving test or you’ll have to take it again.
How long will it take me to get my full UK driver's license?
Typically you should get it within 3 weeks of applying.
I suffer from "a disease". Do I need to inform the DVLA?
You can go through the extensive list on the DVLA website to find out if your health condition needs to be mentioned to the DVLA.
I've heard that I can be exempt from taking the driver's test in the UK. Is this true?
Yes, if you hold a driver's license to certain countries that the UK has exchange agreements with, you can exchange your driver's license for a UK one and will not need to take a driving test.
Good luck for your driving test and safe driving!