What is a Provisional Driver’s Licence, and Do I Need One?

by EzLicence Last updated


Navigating the bureaucracy involved with driving on UK roads can be a challenge. With the different licence classes and requirements that need to be met before you can hit the road, it can all be a bit confusing. 

If you’re an aspiring driver, don’t stress. We have everything you need to know here about getting your provisional licence and what it entails. Just read on, and once you successfully obtain your provisional driving licence, take a look at our tips for new drivers

What is a provisional licence? 

A provisional driving licence is essentially your ‘learner's licence’. You will need a provisional driving licence before your first lesson, and also before taking your theory and practical driving tests.

It grants you permission to drive on UK roads (except for motorways) under supervision. Your supervisor needs to either be a driving instructor or someone who is at least 21 years old and has held a full driving licence for at least three years.

At the age of 16, a provisional driver's licence allows you to learn how to drive a light quad bike or motorbike. Once you are 17, you can begin supervised driving lessons in a car. When you are driving with a provisional licence, you must:

  • Be with an instructor or supervisor that meets the above criteria at all times on the road
  • Clearly display L plates on both ends of the vehicle
  • Not drive on a motorway unless with a professional instructor that has dual controls fitted in their car

How and when can I get a provisional driving licence? 

Before you consider the hows and whens of applying for your provisional driver's licence, ensure you meet the following requirements:

  • Have permission to live in Great Britain for at least 185 days 
  • Wearing glasses or contacts if you need, you are required to be able to read a number plate from at least 20m away

When to get a provisional licence

You may apply for a provisional driving licence from the age of 15 and 9 months. It won’t become valid until you are 16 years of age when you can learn on a motorbike. Then, at 17 you can learn how to drive in a car with a supervisor. 

How to get a provisional licence

You can apply for your provisional driver's licence through the Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency (DVLA) on the gov.uk website or through the mail.      

To apply for a provisional driver's licence through the DVLA you will need to provide:

  • A form of identification like a passport, or a UK certificate of naturalisation
  • All of the addresses you have lived at in the past 3 years 
  • A valid photo of your licence and signature
  • Details about any relevant medical conditions 
  • Other possible details can be asked of you, like a national insurance number

To apply through the post, you’ll need to go to a participating post office and fill out physical forms with this information before mailing it to the DVLA. 

Once you’ve completed your application, you will receive a confirmation email or letter from the DVLA, then your physical licence in the mail. 

How much is a provisional licence in the UK?

A provisional driving licence will cost you £34 if you apply online. If you are applying via mail, it will cost £43. 

You have the option to make payment using MasterCard, Visa, Electron, or Delta debit or credit cards if applying online. For mail applications, you must send a check or postal order for £43 with your application. 

How long does a provisional licence last? 

A provisional driving licence stays valid for 10 years before it expires. However, you only have two years to pass your practical driving test after passing your theory test. If you fail to do this in 2 years, you’ll need to retake the theory exam. 

If after 10 years you still haven’t attained your full licence, you can renew your provisional licence online for a fee of £14. 

Find a professional driving instructor to guide you as you learn through EzLicence

Want to fast-track your learning experience with a professional instructor while on your provisional licence? Look no further than Ezlicence. With thousands of expert driving instructors to compare and choose from, we ensure that you can find the perfect driving instructor to suit your individual needs.

Book a driving lesson with EzLicence today and put yourself on a path to independence sooner with a skilled instructor guiding you through the learning process. 

Frequently asked questions

Is a provisional driving licence a valid driving licence?

A provisional driving licence is a valid type of identification that allows you to drive a vehicle on UK roads with a supervisor or driving instructor once you have passed your theory test.

Is a learner driving licence the same as a provisional licence? 

Yes, a provisional licence is the same as a learner licence in the UK. You need a provisional driving licence to begin learning how to drive.

What age can you get a provisional licence UK?

You can apply for a provisional driver's licence in the UK at 15 years and 9 months, but it does not become valid until you are 16 years of age, and you are not able to begin lessons in a car until you are 17 years old. 

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