In the U.K., you need to possess a full driving license in order to drive most types of vehicles on public roads. There are quite a few steps to go through in order to get your license, but they’re pretty simple and the independence it gives you is always worth the effort in the end.
Step 1: Apply For A Provisional Driving License
The first step is to get your hands on a provisional license, which is a per-requisite for all of the next steps.
You can apply for a provisional license up to three months before your 17th birthday; but you won’t be able to use it until you are at least 17 years old. However, if you are receiving Personal Independence Payments, special rules may apply that allow you to apply for a provisional license earlier.
When you’re ready to apply for your provisional license, fill out the provisional license application form (Form D1) and pay the relevant fee either by mail or at your local post office.
To be eligible for any kind of driving license in the U.K. (including a provisional license), you have to be a UK Resident. You also need to comply with the minimum age requirement detailed above.
Step 2: Find a Driving Instructor
After getting the provisional driving license, you can start learning to drive on the public roads. However, you can drive only if a full driving license holder who is over 21 years old and qualified to drive the same vehicle accompanies you all the times. Moreover, the accompanying person should have held their license for at least three years. You are also required to display L-plates on the front and back of any vehicle you are driving, and to avoid motorways.
However, there is a near-universal consensus that it is always best to have a fully qualified Approved Driving Instructor (ADI) teach you how to drive, as the quality of their training will far surpass anything a family member or a friend will be capable of. South London Driving School has helped over 1,000 students pass their driving tests, and would certainly be worth consideration if you live on the south side of the capital.
Step 3: Pass The Theory Test
The theory test consists of 50 multiple-choice questions related to the Highway Code, which is the official list of all of the rules of the road in the UK.
As part of the theory test, you will also take a separate hazard perception test, where you will have to watch 14 video clips related to road scenes and identify the hazards in the scene. On passing the theory test and hazard perception test, you will be given a certificate.
Anyone who has received a Safer Road User Award from the UK government is also eligible to take a shorter version of the theory test. In this case, you are required to answer only 35 questions, but you still have to complete the hazard perception test.
The ideal time to take your theory test is after you have completed at least ten driving lessons, so that you have some practical experience on the road that you can apply to the theory you have been learning. However, you can book your theory test anytime on the Gov.uk website.
You can book your theory test either online or via telephone. You will have to visit the test center in-person in order to take the test. If you fail in the theory test, you will need to wait for a minimum of three working days prior to taking it again.
Step 4: Pass The Practical Test
As your driving lessons progress, your driving instructor will inform you when they believe you are ready to take your practical driving test. At South London Driving School, we also help our students book their driving test, and can even help bring a student’s test date forward if the test centre is overbooked.
The practical test begins with an eyesight test, which involves reading the number plate of a car that is 20 meters away. This is followed by two “show me and tell me” type questions related to vehicle safety.
Then, the examiner ask you to drive on the road and ask you to perform various maneouvers in order to test your driving ability. Typically, it includes a hill start and emergency braking, and may also require you to complete a reverse parallel park or reverse around a corner maneouver. This will be followed by independent driving for 10 minutes wherein you will be required follow all traffic signs or directions without breaking the rules of the road.
Step 5: Applying for the Full Driving License
If the number of driving faults you committed in your practical driving test is less than 15 and there are no serious faults, you should pass the test. After giving you the certificate, the examiner will ask you if you would want the full license to be sent by post. You are not required to wait until you receive the license to start driving all by yourself.
In case you fail in the practical test, you will need to wait for a minimum of 10 working days before to taking the test once again.