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How to Start

Most people can start learning to drive when they’re 17.
You must do several things before you drive a car or ride a motorcycle. These include getting a driving licence.

You must:

  • have the correct driving licence
  • be the minimum driving or riding age
  • meet the minimum eyesight rules

You must:

  • have the correct driving licence
  • be the minimum driving or riding age
  • meet the minimum eyesight rules

Apply for your first provisional driving licence

Get your first provisional driving licence for a moped, motorbike and car from DVLA online. To apply you must:

  • be at least 15 years and 9 months old
  • be able to read a number plate from 20 metres away

Other ways to apply

You can apply by post. Fill in form D1 available from the DVLA form ordering service and certain Post Office branches.

It costs £43 to apply by post. Make your cheque or postal order payable to DVLA (do not send cash). Damaged or altered cheques will not be accepted.

You’ll also need to include:

  • an identity document unless you have a valid UK biometric passport
  • a colour passport-style photograph

You must send original documents.

Send your application and payment to:

  • DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1AD - if all your documents are from the UK
  • DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1AF - if any of your documents are from outside the UK

Your provisional licence should arrive within 3 weeks. Contact DVLA if it has not arrived by then.

Taking driving lessons

Anyone you pay to teach you to drive must be either:

  • a qualified and approved driving instructor (ADI)
  • a trainee driving instructor

Check your instructor’s badge

Instructors have to display a badge in their windscreen to prove they’re registered with the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA). They display:

  • a green badge if they’re a qualified driving instructor
  • a pink badge if they’re a trainee

Practising with family or friends

Anyone you practise your driving with (without paying them) must:

  • be over 21
  • be qualified to drive the type of vehicle you want to learn in, eg they must
  • have a manual car licence if they’re supervising you in a manual car
  • have had their full driving licence for 3 years (from countries in
  • the European Union or European Economic Area)


You need your own insurance as a learner driver if you’re practising in a car you own. Your family member or friend will usually be covered on this.

If you’re practising in someone else’s car, you need to make sure their insurance policy covers you as a learner driver.

Some insurance companies require the person supervising you to be over 25 years old.

You can get an unlimited fine, be banned from driving and get up to 8 penalty points for driving without insurance.

Before you start

It costs £34 to apply online. You can pay by MasterCard, Visa, Electron or Delta debit or credit card.

You’ll need to provide:

  • an identity document unless you have a valid UK biometric passport
  • addresses where you’ve lived over the last 3 years
  • your National Insurance number if you know it

You’ll get a confirmation email from DVLA after you’ve applied. You might be asked to take part in research by email, but you can opt out. Your licence should arrive within one week if you apply online. It may take longer if DVLA

need to make additional checks.

Rules for learning to drive

You must have a provisional driving licence for Great Britain or Northern Ireland when you’re learning to drive or ride.

You must be supervised when you’re learning to drive a car. This can be by a driving instructor or someone else who meets the rules, for example family or friends.

The car you learn in must display ‘L’ plates.

You can drive at any time, day and night.

You can only drive on motorways if all of the following apply:

  • you’re driving in England, Scotland or Wales
  • you’re with an approved driving instructor
  • the car is fitted with dual controls

You can be fined up to £1,000 and get up to 6 penalty points on your provisional licence if you drive without the right supervision.

You can drive with as many passengers as the vehicle can legally hold.

It’s illegal for your friend or family member to use a mobile phone while supervising you.

Using 'L' and & 'P' plates

You must put an L plate on the front and back of your vehicle so they can be seen easily.

In Wales, you can use a D plate instead.

An L plate or D plate must:

  • have a red L or D on a white background
  • be the right size

You can get up to 6 penalty points if you don’t display an L plate or if it isn’t the right size.

You should take L plates off your vehicle when it’s not being used by a learner.

'P' Plates

You can display green ‘probationary’ P plates to show that you’ve just passed your driving test. You don’t have to display them. You can leave them on your vehicle for as long as you like.