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Driving in the United Kingdom (UK)

1. Requirements to drive in the UK

Your eligibility for driving in the UK includes:

  • You must be at least 15 years and 9 months old
  • You must have good eyesight, that is, you should be able to read a car plate number from 20 meters away (with or without glasses)
  • You must have the right to stay in the UK for at least 185 days

2. Apply for a UK provisional driving licence.

The first thing to do to drive in the UK is to get a provisional license. Even if you do not intend to drive, it is advisable to get one as it can be used as a really strong ID document. You can either apply at the post office or online. I applied online and found it quite seamless and would advise the same. At the time of my application, there were significant backlogs and applications were taking upwards of eight weeks. Therefore, I applied through the critical care worker route and got my license in under ten days. The link to apply for the provisional UK driving license is – GOV.UK – Before you start ( If you do not have a British passport, the website will redirect you to apply with the old service.

After filling out the online form above and paying thirty-four pounds, you should get a document (D801 form) and envelope in the post within five to ten working days. Follow the instructions on this document to process your provisional license. Sign the document and attach a passport photograph. Next, post the completed D801 form, your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP), and an empty envelope addressed to yourself with a first-class stamp (So your BRP is returned on time). Also, add a letter explaining that you are a critical care worker.

Sending an empty envelope is voluntary as the DVLA does not ask for it. All things equal, you should get your provisional license and BRP within seven working days.

See below a screenshot from a Facebook post describing who to address your documents to as a critical worker and a sample of a letter the author of the post sent to DVLA.

Sample UK Provisional Driving Licence

3. Theory Test

As soon as you get the provisional UK driving license, the next thing to do is to attempt the theory test. You can only register for the theory test after getting the provisional license. Booking your theory test is done online and make sure you go through the UK government official site. Booking your theory test costs twenty-three pounds. After receiving your provisional license, you can also start driving under supervision (with a driving instructor or someone with UK driving experience of at least three years).

There are several apps on the Android and iOS stores to adequately prepare you for the theory test and I can not recommend them enough. A very popular one, with good success rates, is the Theory 4 in 1 App – it costs 5 pounds and is worth every pound. I used it and also referred all my friends to it, who all passed on their first attempt.

4. Driving Lessons

Depending on your driving experience, you decide how many hours of lessons you need. For those with little to no driving experience, at least twenty to thirty hours of driving is needed to get you up to speed to pass the test. It is highly advised that you book the practice sessions en bloc. This will help you easily consolidate your lessons. Spacing out the lessons will not be the best use of your money, as you will forget things and will need a few repeat lessons of what you have previously learned – costing you more money. A useful technique will be to take about two weeks off work to have back-to-back lessons and then aim to do the practical test at the end of these intensive lessons.

For people with significant driving experience (of at least three years) from outside the UK, you could look at doing five to ten hours of driving lessons to brush up on the road signs and get in some practical driving test mocks. Being a very experienced driver from outside the UK can cost you the test because the examiner will expect you to exaggerate every maneuver. You will pick up the technique to navigate this during your sessions with an instructor or an experienced friend. Currently, driving lessons cost about thirty to forty pounds per session. As soon as you feel confident enough, go in for your practical test.

5. The Practical Test

The practical test costs sixty-two pounds and the dates are usually very difficult to get. It is advised that you book for any date in any driving test centre and then look out for earlier cancellations on the driving test website to reschedule your test. You will almost always see a cancellation, especially if you employ the help of cancellation apps. The practical test lasts for forty minutes and aims to see you demonstrate safe driving, expected of a learner driver.

There are two sections in the UK driving test; independent driving and non-independent driving (where you drive with the examiner directing you at each turn). The independent driving can either be you following a satellite navigation system or road signs to a destination. As part of the test, you will have to demonstrate a general basic knowledge of cars through the show-me, tell-me questions. You will also need to carry out a few maneuvers during the test and will be marked on every one of them.

To pass the test, you must not make any serious faults and your minor faults must be under fifteen. To prepare for the driving test, many resources are available on the internet, especially on YouTube where you can watch thousands of mock driving tests of other candidates with experienced driving instructors. Two YouTube channels that came in very handy for me were DGN driving and Conquer Driving and I can not recommend them enough.

6. Drive away!

Congratulation! You have now passed your driving test and are liberated from those unnecessary lengthy bus rides. Kindly share this article with friends and loved ones. All the best with your driving.

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