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Start with a provisional driving licence

To legally learn to drive a car on a public road in the UK, you need to be at least 17 years old although, you can also drive if you 16 years of age and receive mobility allowance.  You can apply for your provisional driving licence three months before your 17th birthday, although it doesn't become valid until the age of 17. 

Don't worry if you're older than this as many people are learning to drive for the first time, even though they are sometimes well into their more mature years. 

A provisional driving Licence

Before you can start learning to drive, you need to obtain a provisional driving licence from the Driving and Vehicle Licensing Authority DVLA.  To apply (3 months before birthday) for a provisional driving Licence, complete forms D1, available from any Post Office or you can apply online

You will need to enclose two passport-size colour photographs, proof of your identity and a fee of £34* when applying online and the DVLA will aim to deliver your licence within 1 week.  Alternatively, the fee is £43 by post.  More details will be with the application form.  Different rules apply for individuals that are EU citizens or live outside the EU.  Check with the DVLA

When applying for your provisional driving licence you should inform the DVLA if any of the following apply:

  • Any visual condition which affects both eyes (not including short or long sight or colour blindness)
  • Any visual condition which affects sight (not including short or long sight or colour blindness), for example, if you have sight in one eye only. 


If you have had sight correction surgery you should declare this when you apply for your provisional licence.  This will not stop you from learning to drive, but it is necessary information. 

Check your driving licence information

The paper counterpart to the photocard driving licence included information about a driver's penalty points along with details of what vehicles they could drive.  It has now been replaced by an online service. 

These details can now be viewed online and it's very easy to view and share your driving record with who need to see your details (such as an driving instructor).  Just go to share driving licence information and search for 'view driving licence'.  You can view your information electronically and generate a check code which you can then share with your driving instructor. 

Eyesight

Before you are legally able to drive you MUST be able to read a number plate on a vehicle.  If it's one with an old-style number plate the required distance is 20.5 meters (about 67 feet).  Number plates with a narrower font, such as the new-style number plates introduced in 2001, need to be read from a distance of 20 meters (66 feet) and are easily identifiable, they start with two letters e.g.  AB51 ABC.  If you wear glasses or contact lenses to do this, you'll be expected to keep them on during the test. 

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